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My Take on the Shepherd’s Hut

Hut in Woods.jpg

A traditional Shepherd’s hut is a beautiful thing, however, my Shepherd’s hut breaks away from tradition and here’s why.

The Shepherd’s hut was a practical solution to a problem: keeping the Shepherd warm on a chilly night whilst out minding the flock up on Salisbury Plain; maybe keeping a rejected lamb, or two, warm at the same time. It was more of a wind break than a room. The roof of ‘wriggly tin’ would have done more to block out the view than the cold, in fact as the breath of the shepherd and animals condensed on the cold metal water would drip back down onto the bed. I have it on good authority that the best way to keep warm at night was with two sheep dogs, one for your feet and one in your arms. If you kept the fire on through the night the condensation dripping from the roof would keep you awake. The sides of the hut were made of pine boards, tongue and groove would have been a luxury, the outside was usually clad in more wriggly tin. A tiny window let in a little light but was so high you had to stand up to see out of it. Only the pot belly stove kept life and soul together as the cold crept and the rain lashed and the wind howled (we are talking English summers here).

We look at a Shepherd’s hut now and see only the romance. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. The cast iron wheels, the curved roof and stable door. Even that funny little window is considered ‘quirky’. This is part of our heritage and so, the old huts have been saved and lovingly restored and rightly so. These much loved relics now sit in pride of place in idyllic surroundings on gravelled plinths. I love to see a hut fully restored to its former splendour but still retaining evidence of its former trials and tribulations. The battered galvanised steel acts as a reminder of its rough handling as it was dragged along muddy tracks and contrasts perfectly against the now perfect backdrop of manicured lawn or nurtured meadow flowers.

The huts are so iconic that they are often created from scratch, brand new in every way; every detail as authentic as possible using local materials and ancient processes. Again: brilliant. Trades fascinate me; as a teacher of design I love to know how things are made. One of my favourite memories is of standing in a wood watching a blacksmith light a fire to heat a metal tyre before fixing it onto the wooden wheel we had made. It is vital that we cherish and preserve these skills.

Hut in Woods.jpg

A traditional Shepherd’s hut is a beautiful thing, however, my Shepherd’s hut breaks away from tradition and here’s why.

The Shepherd’s hut was a practical solution to a problem: keeping the Shepherd warm on a chilly night whilst out minding the flock up on Salisbury Plain; maybe keeping a rejected lamb, or two, warm at the same time. It was more of a wind break than a room. The roof of ‘wriggly tin’ would have done more to block out the view than the cold, in fact as the breath of the shepherd and animals condensed on the cold metal water would drip back down onto the bed. I have it on good authority that the best way to keep warm at night was with two sheep dogs, one for your feet and one in your arms. If you kept the fire on through the night the condensation dripping from the roof would keep you awake. The sides of the hut were made of pine boards, tongue and groove would have been a luxury, the outside was usually clad in more wriggly tin. A tiny window let in a little light but was so high you had to stand up to see out of it. Only the pot belly stove kept life and soul together as the cold crept and the rain lashed and the wind howled (we are talking English summers here).

We look at a Shepherd’s hut now and see only the romance. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. The cast iron wheels, the curved roof and stable door. Even that funny little window is considered ‘quirky’. This is part of our heritage and so, the old huts have been saved and lovingly restored and rightly so. These much loved relics now sit in pride of place in idyllic surroundings on gravelled plinths. I love to see a hut fully restored to its former splendour but still retaining evidence of its former trials and tribulations. The battered galvanised steel acts as a reminder of its rough handling as it was dragged along muddy tracks and contrasts perfectly against the now perfect backdrop of manicured lawn or nurtured meadow flowers.

The huts are so iconic that they are often created from scratch, brand new in every way; every detail as authentic as possible using local materials and ancient processes. Again: brilliant. Trades fascinate me; as a teacher of design I love to know how things are made. One of my favourite memories is of standing in a wood watching a blacksmith light a fire to heat a metal tyre before fixing it onto the wooden wheel we had made. It is vital that we cherish and preserve these skills.

Even so, I wondered… would it be possible for the Shepherd’s hut to evolve? How about a fully insulated hut that allowed you to use it (comfortably) all year around. Could it be light and airy? Could it be contemporary? This idea grew wings and I am pleased to be able to offer to you another alternative to the traditional Shepherd’s hut. This hut is so well insulated that you only need a candle to heat it. That’s all well and good but we can’t do without the stove can we? I think not, so you will find the stove outside on the veranda.

The idea for the veranda came from an original design but I have added a glazed wall. Now we have light inside the hut and a view. The glazing slides back out of the way to open up the room on a fine day and closes up to keep you snug on a rainy day, Have you ever sat in an old ridge tent in a sleeping bag peering out at the rain? I love that feeling of being warm and snug and looking out at bad weather. As for contemporary I felt that it was important to keep the traditional look to a great extent, and so, we have cast iron wheels; one small pair and one large (I much prefer that to them all being the same size don’t you?), and a wriggly tin roof. The windows are not so traditional being double glazed with powder coated aluminium frames (just like on my house) but they sit beautifully with the cedar cladding, neither of which need maintenance.

Inside the feel is very different. The windows allow the light in and frame the view; the walls are a contemporary take on the traditional tongue and groove look and are constructed in such a way that fixtures and fittings can be placed pretty much anywhere. I have opted for a feature wall, just to demonstrate the potential of this small space and to break away from the traditional. You may choose a quieter option.

Even so, I wondered… would it be possible for the Shepherd’s hut to evolve? How about a fully insulated hut that allowed you to use it (comfortably) all year around. Could it be light and airy? Could it be contemporary? This idea grew wings and I am pleased to be able to offer to you another alternative to the traditional Shepherd’s hut. This hut is so well insulated that you only need a candle to heat it. That’s all well and good but we can’t do without the stove can we? I think not, so you will find the stove outside on the veranda.

The idea for the veranda came from an original design but I have added a glazed wall. Now we have light inside the hut and a view. The glazing slides back out of the way to open up the room on a fine day and closes up to keep you snug on a rainy day, Have you ever sat in an old ridge tent in a sleeping bag peering out at the rain? I love that feeling of being warm and snug and looking out at bad weather. As for contemporary I felt that it was important to keep the traditional look to a great extent, and so, we have cast iron wheels; one small pair and one large (I much prefer that to them all being the same size don’t you?), and a wriggly tin roof. The windows are not so traditional being double glazed with powder coated aluminium frames (just like on my house) but they sit beautifully with the cedar cladding, neither of which need maintenance.

Inside the feel is very different. The windows allow the light in and frame the view; the walls are a contemporary take on the traditional tongue and groove look and are constructed in such a way that fixtures and fittings can be placed pretty much anywhere. I have opted for a feature wall, just to demonstrate the potential of this small space and to break away from the traditional. You may choose a quieter option.

What you do with your space is limited only by your imagination! We all know it could be a guest room or and office but what about a place to do the crossword or tie fishing flies to play on the flight sim or to make jewellery? I love my Shepherd’s hut and I hope you do too.