Giving dignity back to Loedolff House, Malmesbury – a good memory

 

loedoeff house article (1)

 

Giving dignity back to Loedolff House, Malmesbury
David Glennie
Loedolff House was built in the early 19th century and has a rectangular plan with an older flat-roofed wing at the back. For a description ol the house, see Hans Fransen’s The old Buildings of the Cape (2004: 322) where he says: “this is one of the most interesting houses in Malmesbury”. The house was purchased to save it from destruction and the restoration will give the house’ as Hans Fransen says, a “… winged and pedimented gable of the Malmesbury type modeled accurately on an Elliott photograph” It would seem likely that at. some time in the second half of the l9th century Loedolff House required re-thatching and that the owner decided to replace the perished thatch with corrugated iron. Whatever the cause or the date of the decision the original roof was removed and the gables either clipped or demolished, the height of the external walls was increased to provide openings to ventilate the roof space and a low pitched corrugated iron roof was built complete with eaves and barge boards. In a word, Loedolff House ‘i,as demeaned and stripped of its charm. The remainder of the house was not so radically mauled and retains much original woodwork in its windows, ceilings and beams, etc. in additional to original tiled floors. All of which, I suppose, contributed to the decision by Len Raymond to purchase and restore the building which had been in a state of ruin for a long time. During the ‘Vernacs’ walking tour of Malmesbury, which was lead by Len Raymond and Julie Streicher in November 2001,I saw the beginning of the restoration work. This was a new and fascinating experience for me, particularly the work in the solder (loft), so I got Len,s permission to visit the site from time to time to watch and photograph the working p.ogi”rr. The wide solder (loft) caused by the two-room-deep plan of the rouse results in a iighter roof ridge than would be found on an older one-room-deep itun. The height and width call for two collar beams, called hanebalke (cock perch) in Afrikaans because in the oldest houses, without ceilings, the fowls would perch on the collar beam. In accordance with one of the traditional ways of building, the replaced roof structure has been built of the un-sawn wood of the Poplar tree. The structure consists of kapbene (principal rafters), kaplatte (purlins), hanebalke (collar beams), kapspawe (common iaftersl) deklatte (battens) and dekriet (thatch) (Fig. t). The process of reconstructing the destroyed earlier roof intrigued me more and more as I watched the progress of the work over a period of months. The siriple present-day tools used by the artisans and the effective but informal way they worked struck me as being as close to the way those things would have been done about two centuries ago as I am ever likely to see.

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