masonry walls, since it requires a fairly wide base to
accommodate both the rafters’ feet and the ashlars’ feet. One
solution, not adopted at Fawkham or Shoreham, was to cant the ashlars
inwards.26 In the two porches, however, they are
vertical, and to give increased width at the base two plates are provided
— a wall-plate proper at the head of the wall and, above the wall-plate
and partly overlapping it, a separate ashlars’ plate (Figs. 3, 5 detail
at A). At Shoreham the combined width of the two plates is sufficient, but
at the smaller Fawkham porch yet further width has been obtained by
mortising short sole-pieces into the backs of the ashlars’ plates (Fig.
2); the sole-pieces are also housed in trenches cut from the top faces of
the wall-plates; they are cantilevered out about 5 in., and the
rafters’ feet are extended about 5 in. and receive the rafters in
similar fashion. The result is a complex, and decidedly fiddling, piece of
carpentry, and one cannot help wondering whether the game was really worth
At Kemsing the rafters’ ends are slightly thickened in lieu
of sprockets, though at Shoreham there is a full complement of top
sprockets. At Fawkham there are none at all, presumably because of the
wide eaves resulting from the use of extended tie-beams and sole-pieces.
The methods of fixing the rafters at their lower ends differ, too: at
Shoreham they are notched
and housed in V-notches cut from the upper faces
of the wall-plates (Fig. 3, detail at A); at Kemsing they are simply housed in through-trenches
cut diagonally across the upper and outer arrises of the wall-plates;
here, too, they are pegged from within the porch (Fig.
section at A); at Fawkham they are chase-tenoned into the upper faces of
the sole-pieces or, in the two end ‘trusses’, into the upper faces
of the extended tie-beam (Figs. 2, 3).
Both Kemsing and Shoreham have rafter-holes close to the
feet of the rafters, though Fawkham has none. The purpose of these has
been disputed.27 In some cases they were used for
fixing side-sprockets, but as a general explanation this is
unconvincing, and does not apply to the buildings considered here:
Shoreham has top sprockets which are surely primary, whilst Kemsing has
terminal thickenings - of the rafters’ feet rendering any form of
sprockets unnecessary. Recently, John McCann has convincingly argued
26 Cf., e.g., Hewett, 1974, fig.
45. 64: church porch at South Benfleet. Essex.
27 27 R.T. Mason, Framed
Buildings of England, Horsham, n.d. but 1973, 56-7:
28 F.W.B. Charles, ‘Scotches,
Lever Sockets and Rafter Holes’, Vernacular Archit., v (1974),
29 Cf. K.W.E.
Gravett, ‘Rafter Holes’, Letter to the Editor, Vernacular Archit.,
vii (1977), 840.