Ideal for a cosy retreat, an unusual office, an inspiring studio or appealing extra accommodation – the Butterfield Shepherd’s Hut can be all these things and more
Heritage Shepherds Huts
My aim has always been to produce an authentic Shepherds Hut of the period. It all started when I restored an old Lott & Walne (iron founders in Dorchester) Shepherd’s Hut many years ago. Little did I know what a fascinating project it would become and to what extent it would affect my life.
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I remember reading the faded writing on the old penny farthing boards where the old shepherd had calculated his flock numbers. There were no computers or emails then, just a message for the farmer written on the door in large letters BACK 3rd DEC. In amongst the accumulated fertiliser bags, old rolls of barbed wire and other farmer’s treasure were a set of old branding irons and the stains of a spilt tin of blue Raddle that used to mark the chest of the Ram.
I remember jacking up the axles to lift the wheels out of the mud and being astounded that they still turned after standing for fifty-odd years. Old Shepherds Huts have a wonderful ‘feel’ to them and are steeped in history. As one old farmhand once said to me, “You would give your right arm to know what went on in here over the years”.
So, having studied many original Shepherd Huts and with my blacksmithing and restoration background, I set about producing my own, worthy of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the original makers.
The Merit of Owning a Butterfield Shepherd Hut
Many Shepherd’s Hut makers have sprung up over recent times, so why choose me? When considering the purchase of your Shepherd’s Hut, you may wish to ask yourself if it will have the right feel to it. Do you want a modern box or something with character, a correctly made period piece?
I can offer you a genuine craftsman-made Shepherd’s Hut made by someone who really does make them with the same tools and techniques of the period and cares deeply about the impact on the environment and the preservation of our woodland.
To spend an evening with family and friends in a traditional old Shepherd’s Hut enjoying views across the countryside, perhaps sharing a glass of wine with the old stove going, is a relaxing almost magical experience.
Authentic original nails
Making my own nails, in the traditional way, adds to the authenticity of my Shepherds Huts. Nails are made in my forge or restored from those that I find.
Making my own beeswax polish
Beeswax collected from local hives, carefully blended on the forge with linseed oil and a drop of turpentine, makes a fine polish .
(Smells fantastic too!)
I keep as much of the old axle hardware as possible for my restorations. Where new has to be used, it’s handmade in my forge, or cast from original patterns. if the timber has to be replaced, all items are made by me using local timber, often converted from logs in my own steam sawmill.
Traditional wood-burning stoves are a feature of many of my huts, and while I do make new stoves, I prefer to renovate old cast iron items where possible. You can’t beat sitting awhile in front of a warming stove pondering on days gone by, or what’s to come.
The History of the Shepherd Hut
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the shepherd’s life was often solitary and harsh, particularly during lambing time, when he would have to attend closely to his flock day and night during the cold months of winter and early spring.
The shepherd’s hut was introduced so that he could live in the pasture for extended periods of time and was a haven of warmth and comparative comfort. Such huts were widely used throughout England and Wales and followed a similar basic design with a curved corrugated iron roof and stable door, small, high windows and cast-iron wheels.
The interior was usually simply furnished and was warmed by a small cast iron stove. Most huts were built by small agricultural engineering firms (whose cast iron nameplates are now collectable items in their own right). Some huts were constructed on the farm out of locally sourced materials, but all were built using blacksmith-made forged components such as chains, axles and drawbars.
I believe in using traditional tools wherever possible. Working in time honoured fashion and in turn keeping our carbon footprint as low as possible
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