Of the landscape and for the landscape

Speckled Wood was the first timber frame building to be constructed at Swan Barn Farm using locally grown, sustainable materials from surrounding woods and specialist green wood work and carpentry skills. This sweet chestnut cruck frame building, Co designed by Ben Law (Featured on Grand designs, Channel 4) and David Elliott (Head Ranger, National Trust) it provides accommodation for long-term volunteers working on the local landscape which provided the materials for the building.

Local materials

The majority of the construction materials were sourced from sustainably managed woodlands or farmland within a two mile radius.  Naturally durable timber from wildlife rich woodlands has lent the building a unique character which is intimately associated and connected with the local landscape.

Raising of Speckled woods cruck frames
Frame raise of a round wood cruck frame building

Foundations are of local stone and recycled concrete, the roundwood cruck-frame is made from coppice sweet chestnut with walls of straw bale or lath and lime plaster and floors made from oak produced on the farm.

A Ranger milling timber for building project
A Ranger milling timber for building project

Sheep’s wool was used for insulation and the roof is covered with over 14,000 wooden tiles (or shingles) which were handmade by volunteer groups in local coppice woodland. The construction of Speckled Wood from coppiced timber enhances local woodland management, habitats and visitor enjoyment of the area. 

Part of the community and landscape

Speckled Wood provides free accommodation for up to three people who, in return for accommodation, volunteer on the countryside managing local landscapes, learning new skills and embarking on a career in conservation and environmental education.  

Having long-term volunteers living on-site has enabled us to:
•    Install a log fired biomass boiler to heat the residential buildings
•    Put in place small chicken run and flock
•    Create a vegetable garden
•    Install and look after a beehive. 
•    Plant an orchard of heritage fruit varieties

Local breed Chickens on a frosty morning
Chickens drinking on a frosty morning

The products of these endeavours provide a demonstration of sustainable living and land management which we hope will inspire all those who visit.

Since the successful construction of Speckled Wood, the Ranger team have been busy across the estate using their new skills to build the Orchard House, a great new space for our events.

You may of also spotted the Rangers busy in the fields at Shottermill, revamping the field shelter in time for next year’s calves. Tours of the timber frame buildings are often given during our events at Swan Barn Farm. 

Orchard house, a cruck frame roundwood barn at Swan Barn Farm
Orchard house, a cruck frame roundwood barn

Sound like something you might want to get involved with? When you volunteer, donate or visit National Trust sites, your support helps us to look after special places like Swan Barn Farm and Black Down for ever, for everyone.