As an interior design material, high quality timber is simply unrivalled in terms of historical use, with some woods being used in construction as far back as Roman Britain. What is it that makes these timbers so suitable for construction and interior works in homes across the country?
Perhaps the most renowned and popular hardwood used in construction in Britain and the countries regal emblem. English oak is a beautiful hard wood that is perfect for all kinds of household furniture and used for interior purposes and construction. Oak has been used in construction throughout the centuries due to its remarkable durability. Even when subjected to the elements in its natural environment, the Oak is able to withstand wind, rain, sleet and snow with ease.
This resilience has made Oak an extremely popular timber for all manner of things including ship-building. It was the timber of choice for all ships in the Elizabethan ‘Golden Age’. From the body of the ships themselves to the beams, masts and roof shingles, Oak was used for almost every aspect. Although the Oak is the strong symbol of Britain, it is not only Britain that have been using this wonderful timber for hundreds of years. Europe has also worked out the incredible benefits of building with Oak, and there is still churches in Scandinavia that were built from an original Oak construction that are thousands of years old.
Sycamore was first brought into Britain in the middle ages, its beautiful pale shades became immediately popular amongst those responsible for construction. Easily cut in almost any direction, the Sycamore is a timber that is extremely easy to work with and possibly another reason why it became so popular, so quickly.
Fine and detailed trinket boxes would be fashioned from the Sycamore, and it was (and still is) a popular timber amongst musicians due to its unique density. Its ability to help notes resonate has meant that it is still widely used for making acoustic guitars to this day.
The wood has a beautiful and natural ripple pattern that gives it a unique style and makes it very popular in areas where food is prepared. The fresh, pale appearance is perfect for modern kitchen table tops and butchers blocks, bread-boards and rolling pins. All in all, the Sycamore is a stunning timber that has been used for all manner of items throughout the years, and I am sure will be used for hundreds of years more.
Less renowned amongst the general population than Oak and Sycamore, but Lime timber is perhaps the oldest known construction wood within the UK. In Roman Britain it was known as the ‘tree with a thousand uses’, and native to England, Scotland and Wales, it was used in everything from agricultural implements to shields used in battle. Even the under-bark used to create a coarse fibre that was ideal for things like rough clothing, fish nets and strong rope.
This diverse timber has also been popular amongst carvers, as it has a natural stability but is still soft enough to be carved relatively easily. Like the Sycamore, its stability has made it popular amongst instrument builders throughout the centuries, with perhaps the most common use in piano boards.
All three timbers have carved their place throughout not only Britain’s history, but the rest of the world. What made them so popular centuries ago, are still the same reasons we use them today. Long live Oak, Sycamore and Lime!
Stephen MacVica is the Director for the quality solid wood flooring specialists- Mojo Flooring. Stephen has always taken a strong interest in the timbers used throughout the centuries and finds in fascinating just how durable and beautiful these trees are.