William Pewter BSc MRICS, the senior partner and a period property specialist at the Pewter Partnership, discusses Pargetting.
Pargetting or pargeting is a decorative plaster finish applied to the external walls of buildings, usually Listed and timber-framed buildings. It is a traditional art of ornamental plastering, utilising lime-based plaster. It can also be used internally to walls, chimney breasts and ceilings.
The use of lime-based products on period properties is considered advantageous in that it allows the buildings to breathe, which is particularly important with timber-framed buildings. It also allows moisture to dissipate ensuring rot and deterioration does not occur to the timber elements of a building.
Utilising hair or fibre chalk renders, which form part of the vernacular heritage of East Anglian finishes, to match the curves, movement and wayward elevations of timber-framed buildings.
Designs are traditionally combed, incised, stamped, moulded or can even be created freehand. Simple geometrical designs abounded, with flowers and birds introduced and the more intricate finishes seen on the famous Sun Inn in Saffron Walden, photographed below.
Although the term pargetting is associated predominantly with East Anglia, it is also often seen in Kent. Historical documentation states there is evidence of pargetting as far away as the West Country and York.
Plasterwork became increasingly elaborate during the 16th Century and became more opulent, for example, the Sun Inn, Saffron Walden, pictured below, which is a fine example of a Grade 1 Listed building, where it is rumoured Oliver Cromwell had his headquarters.
The now famous and elaborate pargetting on this historical building is believed to date back to the 17th century.
Records state that the craft has been carried out since the reign of Henry VIII in the 15th century and reached its pinnacle in the 17th century.
A fine example of pargetting seen in Essex.
Photographs courtesy of Julian Carder