House of Wessex newsletter, May 2019

Welcome to our new-look Newsletter.

The House of Wessex project is really flying, and we hope you will join us on an amazing journey over the next few months. Read on to hear about progress to date, the development of The Kingdom of Wessex trail, plus opportunities to get involved in the climax of the project over the summer months. Yes, that's right, we're looking for volunteers and people to join our courses, plus news of another Public Open Weekend.


Lesley Best, Project Manager

A technical note: after a successful Artweeks at the Sylva Wood Centre in May, after which we have welcomed many new friends interested in the House of Wessex project, now seemed to be a good time to transition to a new Newsletter platform. We've been made aware that some friends were not receiving these newsletters, or were discovering them in their spam folders, and that some browsers/email clients were rendering the contents as goobledegook. Hopefully, we have now solved all three of these issues.
We'd love to know what you think!

So far we have . . .

  • brought together timber framing specialists, archaeologists, Anglo-Saxon historians, local history groups, and volunteers across a huge range of interests.
  • converted 30 tonnes of roundwood — donated by Blenheim Palace and shaped with wegdes and axes by dozens of volunteers from Carpenters Fellowship — into posts, purlins and beams for the timber frame which will be raised in July.
  • developed and walked the Kingdom of Wessex Trail, and now drafting leaflets and a webpage ready for the its launch in the summer.
  • visited schools, in partnership with Dorchester Abbey, to teach years 5/6 about local Anglo-Saxon history and the House of Wessex.
  • provided talks to local historical and community groups across Oxfordshire.
  • held Public Open Days to get people involved and learn about the rich Anglo-Saxon history we have all round us.
  • prepared the way for archaeologists to start laying out the site in advance of digging the foundations trench in early June.

Next steps . . .

The next phase of the building starts in earnest this Friday. The site will be marked out accurately, and designated formally as an archaeological working site, with fences erected.

A foundation trench will be dug in early June, with archaeologists keeping a close professional working eye on everything.

Also in early June, The Carpenters Fellowship are returning to the Sylva Wood Centre with a cadre of experienced volunteers to finish preparing the wood by hand with hand tools; a task known as treewrighting.

Raising of the timber frame will being on 3rd July, with a public open weekend planned for Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June.

Kingdom of Wessex Trail

The Wulfheodenas lead off from the site of the House of Wessex, to explore the new Kingdom of Wessex Trail.

A trail leaflet, complete with links to a downloadable GPS route, is being prepared ready for launch later in the year.

Get involved

Public Open Weekend  ~  July: 6, 7.
Come and enjoy our second Public Open Weekend. Watch the raising of the building, while the Carpenters Fellowship use a variety of traditional techniques. Meet the Wulfheodenas and learn Anglo-Saxon crafts, play traditional games, learn about bone-carving, cookery skills and much more. Our thatcher will be providing demonstrations of traditional thatching skills. It will be a great family friendly weekend and a major milestone in the project. No booking necessary, free parking, and no entry charge.
OPEN Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm.

Help construct the timber frame  ~  July: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
The Carpenters’ Fellowship return in June to prepare for the exciting final stage in July for raising the timber frame. We have great plans for the July session - we have been discussing gin poles, derricks and rope lifting techniques which will be spectacular fun and provide good opportunities for everyone to join in. We still have places available for you to come and be a part of installing the timber frame on its original location.  You will be involved in setting earth-fast posts, jointing and fitting wall frames in situ, and rearing and assembling the roof frame.  It's a major milestone for the project and it will be a very exciting week on site. It will be a fantastic atmosphere, lots of activity, great food and plenty of exercise! Click on the button below to read more and sign up.
Read more and Sign Up
Help thatch Anglo-Saxon style  ~  August: 10, 12, 13, 14.
Alan Jones, our expert in historic thatching skills and techniques, will teach you sustainable and early thatching methods on the House of Wessex. We have four days on offer and you can take part in a single day course, or really master your skills and enjoy all four. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn a craft in a beautiful setting on a live build.

Click on the button below to read more and sign up.

The funds from these payable courses go directly to the funding of the project and also to start and create a legacy fund for the long term use and maintenance of the building.
Read more and Sign Up
Volunteer help needed
There will be opportunities for volunteering both now and in the future. We will welcome help at the Open Weekend to set everything up, have people on an Information Tent, and supporting the organisations on site. In August we will be daubing and would love to open this up to children and families so help will be needed to organise this. Do email Lesley at if you are interested.
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