Shingles and Shakes!
Anyone passing along the A465 between Hereford and Bromyard will have noticed scaffolding on the steeple of St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church at Stoke Lacy, and the new golden shingle cladding emerging as the protective covering has been removed. You may, like us, wonder exactly what shingles are and where they came from.
The church steeple had been re-clad 30 years ago with cedar shingles. With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund these, now worn out, are being replaced with oak which should last up to 90 years. Happily, through one of the church wardens, a local man, Maurice Clother, was able to supply.
Maurice, with a BSc in Forestry, has a workshop in an old barn at Hill House Farm, on the National Trust Brockhampton Estate, just outside Bromyard. He has used seasoned oak from the Brockhampton wood. Shingles, or in this case, more properly known as shakes, are all hand-made. The woodman has a block with a groove to hold the cut wood and using a froe (the blade to split the wood) and a maul (a special wooden mallet) the shakes are split to the right thickness to make a wooden ‘tile’ which is ideally suited to hanging vertically on a wall or a very steep roof like a steeple. (Shingles are similar to shakes but sawn through not split along the grain of the wood.)