Traditional terracotta from Norfolk Pamments Ltd
Published: Sunday, April 30, 2017
Here, Director Annie Leigh explains their work:
Our pamments (or pammets) are traditional terracotta floor tiles which are individually made by hand from raw regional clays. They were widely used not just for churches, but also for secular buildings. These days they are much in demand for conservation and renovation projects.
Although new, with their natural earth colours and imperfections, they have a time weathered look. No two tiles are identical. Each bears the characteristics of one of the three tilemakers who made it. Take a look at the slideshow at the bottom of the page to see the pamments being made.
We take great pride in being able to contribute to the conservation of many unique and beautiful churches. We were delighted to supply pamments for St. Mary’s Church, Puttenham, where they fulfill a remedial function as well as restoring the floor appropriately.
St Mary's Church, Puttenham
There has been a Christian community on the site of St Mary's, Puttenham, in Hertfordshire, since AD 673 and the village is listed in the Domesday Book of 1087. St Mary's would originally have been a wattle and daub building but it and the village to the north of the church, was wiped out at the time of the Black Death.
We know there has been a medieval church on the site, although the present day St Mary's dates mainly from the 14th century. It was extended in prosperous times, when the de Puttenhams, after whom the village was named, lived here in the mid-14th century.
St Mary's has also seen times of neglect and decay, then in the mid-20th century, was returned to a beautiful and usable church, thanks to the dedication, drive and determination of Miss Joan Newman over a period of 40 years.
Norfolk Pamment's work at St Mary's
It has long been an ambition of the parishioners of Puttenham to raise the level of the floor in the church and, while doing so, to install underfloor heating. However, being located on the Vale of Aylesbury, the church has been affected by the high water table there and the dampness in the lower walls and the floor.
In 2013, an innovative drainage system, of a type used on flatlands since before the church was built, was installed to divert rainwater from the ground and the roofs into one of the adjacent drainage ditches that drain the Vale. This has reduced the dampness in the fabric of the church to acceptable levels for an ancient and historic building of its age.
It was important that the substructure of the new floor and the finish chosen would allow the building to 'breathe' and not trap moisture below modern damp-proof membranes, so a specialised sub-base was installed and all of the slab and screed construction used lime based materials.
It was decided to use Norfolk Pamment tiles to provide the traditional image needed, knowing that they would allow any moisture to pass through the tiles and the pointing and contribute towards protecting the fabric of the church for future generations.
Find out more about Norfolk Pamments Ltd on their website.
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