Cotswold stone roofs
It may be some time before I am able to report on further progress on the layout itself, so I thought I would share with you some notes and photos I compiled on Cotswold stone roofs, of which I shall have to tackle more than a few on the layout in the not-too-distant future.
Cotswold stone ‘slates’ (aka ‘tiles’) are made from the same material as the stone used for the walls – Oolitic limestone. The roof slates are made from stone that has been split by winter frost. There are two types – ‘Presents’, which are quarried from deposits near the surface, and which have been naturally split by the frost while they are in the ground; and ‘Pendles’, which are cut from deeper deposits, and which have then been left out over a winter so that the frost will split them. Pendles tend to be noticeably thinner than Presents, and have a smoother surface.
The best known Pendles are ‘Stonesfield slates’, which came from quarries in the neighbourhood of the village of that name (in Oxfordshire, some distance to the east of the Cotswolds), but they were also produced at various quarries within the Cotswolds. In Burford itself, one can find examples of both Presents and Pendles, although they are not mixed on the same roof. However, I have gained the impression that the majority of the buildings in Burford seem to have been roofed with locally sourced Presents. The two types of slate are not easy to tell apart when they on a roof, except by their relative size. (Large slates near the eaves probably indicate that this is a roof laid with Pendles.) The second photo below was taken at Naunton, a village about 3½ miles NW of Bourton-on-the-Water, and appears to show Pendles.
Where roofs in the Cotswolds are laid with Pendles, the slates nearest the eaves can be sometimes be very large indeed, with a very noticeable diminution in the size of successive rows of slates. There are at least 30 recognised sizes (with names such as ‘cussoms’, muffities’, ‘wivetts’, ‘batchelors’ and’ tants’ or ‘farewells’, among others) although no more than a dozen sizes would generally be used on the same roof. However, the width of slates is variable. This first shot (above) somewhere in the same area as Naunton (but I forgot to note the location) also shows a roof laid with Pendles.
(Sorry I got these two shots in the wrong order when posting this item, and have failed to transpose them when attempting to edit this post.)
The remaining photos show roofs in Burford itself. The thicker and rougher nature of the Presents can be detected in a number of cases. It is also noticeable that, whilst there is a diminution of slate sizes further up the roof, when a roof is slated with Presents those at the eaves are not all that much larger than the others, and certainly not as big as those laid near the eaves on roofs that consist of Pendles.
This next shot seems to show another roof laid with Pendles
This roof too looks as though it is laid with Pendles
The stone roofs I have modelled so far are at or near the back of the layout, and I have restricted myself to creating ‘an artist’s impression’ by applying a watercolour wash to hand-made rag paper on which slate courses have then be marked by indenting them freehand with a hard pencil (as described and illustrated in recent posts in this thread). For the roofs of buildings standing further forward on the layout, I did consider laying separate strips of slates. Plain paper or card about 6-thou thick might be used for Pendles, but for a roof comprising Presents, a rougher material about 15-thou thick will be required. However, the small size of the slates (especially in 4mm scale) convinced me that this would simply not be practicable where roofs are laid with ‘Presents’.
I will leave it to you to decide whether this next roof has Pendles or Presents on it. ( I did say they are difficult to tell apart.)
[By the way, look at the first floor windows. Are they vertical, square and all in line? Are they, heck!]
The tails (bottom edge) of the slates are reasonably straight (but certainly not perfectly straight), and the visible sides of the slates are roughly at right-angles to the tail, usually with slightly rounded corners. The slates are not altogether smooth and so they do not always sit flat on the roof. [Nor do Pendles, despite their slightly smoother texture.] The top of the slates (unseen) is roughly rounded off, but if modelling slates individually, it would no doubt be more convenient to make the slates roughly rectangular.
I think the next roof consists of Presents. And who can resist that window as a subject for a model?! (Windows as wonky as this are not so uncommon as you might suppose.)
Further down the hill in Burford, and more Pendles, I think.
It was sometimes the practice to reduce the angle of the lowest rows of slates to help throw rainwater clear of the walls. This was arranged by adding a wedge-shaped ‘sprocket’ to the lower end of each rafter. However, there are plenty of photos that seem to show no change of angle in the roof slope near the eaves. An example of a change in angle of the roof slope near the eaves can be seen in the old malt kiln from Garne’s Brewery in Burford. (See photos of both the model and the prototype in an earlier post).
Again, your guess is as good as mine as to whether the slates in these next two photos are Pendles or Presents
The colour of Cotswold stone roofs starts off roughly the same as the walls. I once saw a newly slated roof in Bibury, which looked distinctly odd, but the stone weathers rapidly – far more so than the walls, so that it can go quite a dark grey/brown colour in some cases. I think these colour photos, taken in bright sunshine give a fair idea of the colours that are seen, although their appearance under a cloudy sky is a rather darker shade of grey.
There’s a lot more that could be said about these roofs, but I’ll leave it there for now.
Last edited by martin goodall
on Fri Aug 07, 2020 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.