Missed Detail In the Cotswold

Oct 6th, 2007, 06:19 AM
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Missed Detail In the Cotswold

Hello all,

My wife and I were recently in the UK. We spent about four days in the Cotswold. Great area to tour and relax. One of the things I notice on a lot of my pictures, but forgot to ask while there are homes with metal "X" or "S" on the front of the house. Does anyone know what those letters/symbols represent? I've been Googling all morning, and my head's about to explode.

MDLinDC is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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Hi, MD --

They're most likely iron tie-rods, which are used to stabilize parallel exterior walls in older buildings.

You'll see them in 18th and 19th-century structures here in the US, too.

Often, builders put iron X's, S's, the homeowner's initials, or even stars on the outside of the tie, where they're visible to the eye.

Hope this helps!

NanBug is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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They're not really letters.

Inevitably, over the years walls start to move out of true. And our reasonably well-drained clayey soil doesn't help. because it tends to go through cycles of getting soggy then going very dry, which creates some movement in the ground. This further causes walls on poor foundations (ie all of them) to move to one side or another - usually outwards.

A traditional solution is to put a long bar through the house. An S or X (or often H) shaped extrusion is then attached at either end, outside the wall. The bar's heated, and the letter shapes screwed in tighter, till there's a bit of bar sticking out.

As the bar cools, it contracts and the letter-shaped extrusion puts pressure on the wall to revert to true. The sticking out bit of bar is sawn off, leaving the letters forcing the wall to stay straight.

It's not a Cotswold peculiarity - indeed I don't think I've never seen it here - but common throughout Britain, and is very common in the ironstone country immediately north of the Cotswolds. The principles of expansion and contraction in basic schools physics lessons are generally explained (or at any rate were when we had a proper system of education) by reference to this process.

No doubt these days, the poor kids are asked to write an essay on how the house feels to have a rod stuck throught it.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 07:18 AM
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Incidentally, I'm no structural engineer, but a brief glance at neighbouring houses confirms my puzzlement about your question.

Those tie bars really are very rare round here. They're common north and east of the Cotswolds, I think because walls there are made of brick or very regularly shaped big stone blocks. Few Cotswold houses are built like that: they're made of irregularly shaped stone - which seem to bow outwards more rarely than brick does - and I can't imagine the tie bars would work on rough Cotswold stone in the way they do with regularly-shaped brick or ironstone anyway. Surely the stresses the contraction would create would weaken our walls?

Are you sure you saw these tie bars here? Or are your observations based on
the mansions of the rich? They could have afforded the kind of big, regular stone generally used only for churches and Oxford colleges, but might well have had poor engineering advice.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 07:27 AM
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Thanks NanBug and FlannerUK.

FlannerUK: We drove around Chipping Norton and saw those "X" and "S" shapes on many different homes and buildings. I thought we also some the shapes on homes in, or near, Lower Slaughter. I don't recall seeing them in Stow on the Wold. Maybe I am being too expansive in my description of the Cotswold--including Chipping Norton.
MDLinDC is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 07:34 AM
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Oh...during our stay in the Cotswold, we were hosed by a friend with a cottage in Blockley. Beautiful!
MDLinDC is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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>>during our stay in the Cotswold, we were hosed by a friend <<

Why, what had you been rolling in ?
PatrickLondon is online now  
Oct 6th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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There were those iron rods/letter shaped "thingies" in the village I lived in - but it is a bit ENE of the Cotswolds. I've also seen them in lots of other places like just north in Warwickshire. But don't remember seeing them on any Cotswold stone bldgs. Can't swear 100% but since flanner lives right there, I'm pretty sure we can defer to him.

BTW - just a comment. You keep saying "the Cotswold". No such place. You can say "the Cotswolds" meaning the general area. Or "the Cotswold Hills" - again meaning hills in the region.

"Cotswold village" - fine as an adjective. But "the Cotswold" - nope.
janisj is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 11:08 PM
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Ignore him. The Boss is blathering again.

If he spent less time stopping me from eating nice things I find on the ground or reminding the local cats who's in charge, and a bit more time looking at where the other humans live, he'd see there are lots of these X and H thingies all over the place.

It's just that they're usually on houses built by people less skinflint about the quality of the stone they use than the scrooges who first built the place the Boss lives in.

The houses round the flannerpad were all built by people just as mean as the Boss. But when I dragged him a few miles from that bloody computer of his yesterday, every second house seemed to have one of them.

Self, self, self. All he ever thinks about. If he spent more time taking me where all those pheasants are...
TheFlannerpooch is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 04:45 AM
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Thanks again for the replies. (The constructive ones at least.) I started to look up more based on many replies about the iron tie rods. Interesting.

Duly noted about the Cotswolds reference.
MDLinDC is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 04:53 AM
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I'm steering clear of the commenting on the Flanner divide.
MDLinDC is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 07:31 AM
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Flanner, as one dog-lover to another, I take back every nasty thought I ever had about you. That last post of yours is priceless!

Cimbrone is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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I am so jealous. My dog can't even type. Or is there some sort of voice activated gadget involved? But then we'd need a translation program...
tuscanlifeedit is offline  

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