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Horses Tucked Up in Bruton Place

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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Horses Tucked Up in Bruton Place

Above the entrance to Bellamy's Restaurant, in the former mews of Bruton Place, are these carved brick horse's heads.




They are a fine example of carving in brick and also a good example of Tuck Pointing. Now until recently I had no idea what tuck pointing was, a friend explained it to me and now I see examples everywhere. Nearby in Berkeley Square the whole frontage of number 55 is tuck pointed.


The expensive technique of tuck pointing developed in the late 17th Century and became common throughout the 18th and early 19th Centuries. The aim was to give the illusion of perfect brickwork, or sometimes to disguise inferior quality work and materials.


In tuck pointing a regular wall, built with lime mortar, such as the one above is first smoothed. Then a v-shaped groove is cut between the joints. Finally a ribbon of lime putty is placed into the grooves and cut with precision to make all the joints appear perfectly regular. Such a laborious process was reserved for the fa├žades of the most prestigious addresses.

There are numerous examples of tuck pointing throughout London but there are very few specialist companies able to maintain or restore such  facades using this traditional technique. One such expert is Dr Gerard Lynch aka The Red Mason! His website has a lot more detail on this interesting technique. There is also an excellent guide from Historic Brick Pointing available as a pdf here.

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2 Comments:

At 2 August 2011 at 16:25 , Anonymous LondonRemembers said...

Tuck pointing can also look totally out of place. 18 months ago I saw some work being done to a house in Danbury Street, N1, Islington, in a charming terrace of early Georgian style houses with 2 floors, attic and basement. They are not mansions. And one of them was suffering the indignity of tuck pointing. The bricks had already been cleaned back to a sandy colour and polished smooth. As I, astonished, took my photos, the owner appeared and entered into a strange conversation during which he insisted that all the houses had originally been tuck-pointed. I left before it became nasty - the conversation that is, it was too late for the house.

 
At 3 August 2011 at 05:54 , Blogger Peter Berthoud said...

Thank you very much for this. Inappropriate tuck pointing isn't something I have seen for myself, it sounds awful, like stone-cladding!

I believe there are only a handful of specialist firms capable of undertaking tuck pointing nowadays, so with luck this won't become widespread.

Next time I am in N1 I will pop over to Danbury Street for a look.

 

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