Past meets present: Online crowdfunding helps build Saxon house

Past meets present: Online crowdfunding helps build Saxon house

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Steve and Judith Jones built a Saxon house in their back garden using ancient methods. They used green oak wood for the structure which was built on land behind…

Steve and Judith outside of their Saxon house
Steve and Judith Jones built a Saxon house in their back garden using ancient methods

Retired teachers Steve, 64, and Judith Jones, 65, spent two decades painstakingly creating the ancient property in their back garden.

They used green oak wood for the structure which was built on land behind their home in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire using traditional tools and methods.

The walls were then coated with daub - which is made up from mud, hair, lime and horse manure - and the house was then thatched.

Realistic Saxon axes and shields line the inside with a small bed made out of wood and rope as well as a cauldron hanging from a beam above a fire in the middle.

The thatched roof of the house
The couple raised £3,00, via a Kickstarter campaign to repair their thatched roof

Mr and Mrs Jones, who have both retired, now use the Saxon house to teach youngsters from a nearby school for children with learning or behavioural problems.

Other groups, including the University of the Third Age, also regularly visit to learn about the way people lived in the seventh century.

But in January this year the married couple, who have two sons and two grandchildren, realised part of the thatched roof was in need of repair.

They decided to turn to 21st century technology to help fix the problem and launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the £3,000 they needed.

And last weekend they reached their target meaning the roof can now be re-thatched to stop rain water flooding in to the house.

The inside of the house with a daubed wall
The walls are coated with a traditional mixture of mud, hair, lime and horse manure
Mrs Jones using the cauldron in the house
The house features a cauldron hanging from the ceiling

Mrs Jones, who used to teach English and Drama, said: "We had someone come out and have a look at the roof and they were surprised how well it had weathered.

"But a little bit of rain was coming in so we knew it needed to be fixed.

"We were very concerned about the thatching and wondered how we would find the money.

"We felt we couldn't raise the money and got it fixed just by bartering like they would have done in the Saxon days.

"Our sons are very savvy about this type of thing and they suggested starting a Kickstarter campaign.

"We have never done anything like it before. I felt a bit rude because of the generation I am from but it didn't put any pressure on anybody.

"We were delighted when we reached the target because if was a type of campaign that meant you either got all of the money by a set date or you didn't get any."

The couple first started building the house around 20 years ago in the mid-1990s while they were still full-time teachers.

It was finished after four years but they have continued to add to it over the last two decades.

They live normal 21st century lives in their home but dress up as Saxons when people are visiting them.

The interior of the Saxon house
Despite the house being inhabitable, the couple live in their modern home next door

Former art teacher Mr Jones said: "When we first moved in I was itching to do something and always wanted to build something like this.

"We have tried to make it as real as it can be, we want people to walk in and look see what is in and make sense of how it would have been used and how they survived.

"We want to keep the link with school going because it allows them to learn about all this out of the classroom.

"It gets them socialising and doing different activities they are not used to doing."

Mrs Jones in Saxon dress
Mr and Mrs Jones dress in traditional Saxon gear when they have visitors

Mrs Jones added: "It is possible to live in it but we don't because we are 21st century people. We have slept in there and cooked in there as a camping experience just for fun quite a few times.

"As a woman it is an interesting era because women had a great deal of autonomy.

"They were allowed to own property and had rights to their own children.

"This self-determination was then lost for hundreds of years and was not back until the start of the 20th century."

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