Monday, 16 November 2015


LOCATION: Field Cottage, Moorby.

PRESENT : Jill Cousins, Alison Cousins, Ben Gadsby, Julian Millhouse, Tony Bonham, Nicholas Sherratt, Kelly Scott, Mike Summer, Richard Sivill. Stella Sivill, Derek Lane, Neil Cook, Eleanor Harris, Trevor Oliver, Marcin Kolakowski, Catherine Wilson, Graham Beaumont, Bernard Martin, Ann Marecombe, Robin Brittain, Erica Mallory-Blythe, Andrew Mallory-Blythe and David Glew.

APOLOGIES: John Hurd, Arthur Fox, Jane Pow, Chris Healy and Robert Walker.

ABSENT FRIEND: This was the first EMESS meeting since the sudden death of the chairman Rodney Cousins. The location was at the cottage where Rodney had been arranging a meeting which had to be cancelled because of his sudden illness. This was an opportunity for members to reflect on Rodney's contribution to the current knowledge of earthen buildings.

David started by remembering that Rodney had provided the location for the first EMESS meeting, at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, 21 years previous, which was attended by John Hurd, Keith Dean, Adrian Moody, Rodney and David. Rodeny became the organiser of meetings and latterly chairman.

Julian remembered Rodney as a very hands-on person. Tony recalled his great enthusiasm and said how much he would be missed. Mike and Kelly had met Rodney when they were repairing the very mud-and-stud cottage we were sitting in. Richard and Stella had met him through talks on family history, and remembered his famous quizzes when he brought old agricultural implements from the museum. Derek met him when repairing his own mud-and-stud cottage, which led to him joining EMESS. Through his work as a surveyor, Neil had met Rodney, joined EMESS and became its treasurer. Eleanor remembered Rodney's enthusiasm from the repair days at the barn at Tumby Moorside. Trevor thought EMESS was like a group of friends who carried out repairs and met for discussions; and that EMESS would not still be here if it were not for Rodney. Marcin shared Rodney's interest in conservation works and remembered his enthusiasm. He had met a number of cottage owners recently all of whom recalled Rodney's help.

Catherine was the person who actually appointed Rodney to the job as curator of the museum. His imagination and sense of humour shone through. It was Rodney who persuaded the local authority to save the Withern Cottage, which became the centrepiece of the museum at Skegness, and from which all the subsequent interest in mud-and-stud cottages has come. Graham felt as though he had known Rodney all his life (and it was 40 years actually), and recalled being welcomed at Tumby to talk to visitors. Bernard knew Rodney through Scouting originally, but then found Rodney was involved in so many parts of life in Newark. Ann, also, knew Rodney through various interests – EMESS, basket-making, Civic Trust, and the chapel at Spital-in-the-Street.

Robin was probably the most recent person to meet Rodney, and, through their shared interest in earth buildings, they were in the process of co-operating over the map of mud-and-stud cottages in Lincolnshire. Erica and Andrew had been in this cottage for over two years when Rodney turned up out of the blue, signed their copy of his book, and arranged the meeting here.

On behalf of Jill and Alison, Ben said the family had not known a great deal about Rodney's work with EMESS, but it had been fascinating to hear what everyone had said.

TALK : Mike explained the alterations he had carried out to the cottage to make it habitable. Not only were walls rebuilt in mud-and-stud, but the low internal first floor and vertical internal partitions had to be removed to make it feasible to walk about inside. Erica and Andrew are now building a straw bale extension.

TOUR : As so many people had come to the meeting, Erica showed them round in two groups, during the refreshments interval. She was very generous with her hospitality.

FUTURE OF EMESS : Like Rodney, Erica explained she was enthusiastic about earth buildings, and therefore she hoped the society which was a forum for these interests would be able to continue. Trevor commented that, as EMESS had done much repair and investigation work on historic earth buildings, one major area to consider will be building new earth buildings. As a representative of the national Earth Buildings in UK and Ireland organisation, Robin wanted to help regional groups with this interest. In this respect, EMESS stands beside other regional groups such as DEBA, EARTHA and HADES, and so help from EBUKI could be forthcoming. Marcin thought the national links should be maintained, but also thought that other natural and sustainable materials should be included, such as straw bales. He agreed about the past interest in historic buildings, but the future would need to include new buildings. David commented that the repair of old buildings (such as the barn at Tumby) would give students and builders the chance to learn the relevant skills before working on new buildings (like the shelter built at Hill Holt Wood, or the various substantial new extensions which have been built on existing cottages).


The notes noted above confirmed there is a future for EMESS, and so the following officers were agreed :

Chairman : Trevor Oliver (conservation builder from Welton le Marsh)
Treasurer : Neil Cook (building surveyor in Lincoln)
Secretary : vacant
Blog master : Eleanor Harris (student at School of Architecture in Lincoln)
Events organiser : Trevor Oliver
Planning consultations : Bernard Martin (private architect in Newark)
Contact for Vernacular Architecture Group (VAG) visit : David Glew (retired architect from Nocton)
Archives : Trevor Oliver


On the question of public liability insurance, two enquiries would be made :
Robin would check if the existing EBUKI insurance could cover EMESS events, if EMESS were to become a regional group of EBUKI.
David would find out if the VAG visit to Tumby (to be arranged by EMESS for next year) would be covered by VAG's own insurance.

It was agreed that EMESS subscriptions would be £10 per annum, and that those subs collected that evening would cover the rest of 2015 and the whole of 2016.

Fresh membership and contact lists would be compiled by Neil and Eleanor using information passed on to them by David. This might also take the form of current members, and past members.


Provisionally, the first meeting of 2016 would take place at the university. There had been previous annual lectures there, and this arrangement would continue. Rodney's family were pleased with the suggestion that these would be called “The Rodney Cousins Memorial Lectures”. It was suggested that the date would be Tuesday 8 March, which would be a nice commemoration of what would have been Rodney's 72nd birthday on 6 March. The proposed speaker was Erica, and the subject would be Health Benefits of Earth Buildings.

Other suggestions for meetings later in the year might include a practical repair day on the occasion of the visit to Tumby Moorside by the VAG, which will be on Friday 1 April. Erica offered to host a repair day on one of the buildings at Field Cottage. Visits could take place in the villages of Stickney and Burgh-le-Marsh. The Butterwick Cottage (which EMESS took down) and which has been rebuilt as Captain's Cottage in Elsham Country Park, could be visited. What is now called The Village, but was previously Church Farm Museum, might be having some new mud-and-stud construction, and so EMESS could be involved in that.


Members would be informed when the first meeting of 2016 was confirmed.


Everyone was very grateful for the generous hospitality provided by Erica and Andrew, and Erica responded by thanking everyone for coming. Robin said that help from EBUKI was available to EMESS. Julian commented that Rodney would be pleased to see the enthusiasm for a healthy EMESS to go forward into the future.

Erica finished the meeting with a toast to all the good works, through enthusiasm and dedication, which Rodney had accomplished in his life.

Monday, 2 November 2015


In 1994, while he was at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Rodney held the first meeting for the founding of the East Midlands Earth Structure Society. This is a group of conservationists, architects, builders and house holders who are interested in buildings made from earth. These structures include Lincolnshire's mud-and-stud cottages. It is appropriate that the short name for a society which enjoys working with wet, sticky mud, is EMESS - in other words!

Rodney wrote a unique and informative book about mud-and-stud buildings in Lincolnshire. This followed his project to move an unwanted mud-and-stud cottage from the village of Withern to the Church Farm Museum in Skegness. With EMESS members, he attended the international conference on earthen buildings called Tera 2000 in Torquay, and sold lots of copies of his book there!

Over the years since, in EMESS and as its chairman, Rodney gave talks himself and organised talks by others. He organised walkabouts around villages where there were mud-and-stud cottages. He also arranged practical demonstrations of mud-and-stud building techniques. Most recently, these have focused on the repair of a barn at Tumby Moorside, which is a listed building. He was there on the 10th and 11th September this year, showing people around, for the National Heritage Open Days, and that was his last activity for EMESS.

Within EMESS, Rodney was an enthusiastic erson who was full of life, giving his all to everything in which he was involved. The members of EMESS will feel this loss greatly, both as a friend and as an advocate for earth buildings.

Saturday, 24 October 2015


          EMESS will be holding it's Open Evening

                 Tuesday 10th November 2015

               Field Cottage, Moorby.

Situated a few miles South of Horncastle on the
B1183 Horncastle to Revesby Road.

By kind permissions of the owners -
      Andrew and Erica Mallory-Blythe

Off road parking is available next to Field Cottage.

Refreshments - Normal charge of £2 per head.

Special opportunity to view Field Cottage and recent developments.

The meeting will be tribute the the late Rodney Cousins, who recently passed away, so any memories of him that members are willing to share are appreciated.

Monday, 21 September 2015


EMESS made a contribution to this year's national Heritage Open Days.  The on-going repairs to the mud and stud barn at Tumby Moorside, near Coningsby, Lincs, were open to the public on Thursday and Friday 10th, 11th September.  About 18 people made visits on the Thursday, and about 25 on the Friday.  They were all people with an interest in the heritage of this country, which is the purpose behind the annual Heritage Open Days - namely to have buildings of historic interest open to the public.  The grand ones are open at no charge, and the modest ones (like Tumby) are open when otherwise they would be inaccessible.

The weather was warm and sunny on both days.  There were displays of photos, plans, artefacts and various records, under cover.  Then the building itself, and the various repairs which have been carried out to it over the last 20 years could be seen and discussed.  There were many complimentary observations, which will encourage EMESS and its members to continue with this conservation work. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015


EMESS are taking part in Heritage Lincolnshire Open days on:

Thursday 10th and Friday 11th September 2015

10am to 4pm

The Barn(High House Barn), Tumby Moorside, Coningsby, Lincolnshire, PE22 7ST

-------------------THIS EVENT IS FREE!!----------------------

Experience Mud and Stud - almost unique to Lincolnshire. See renovation work to this Rare 18th century Mud and Stud Barn by EMESS.

Plus exhibition of photographs and information on Mud and Studs in Lincolnshire.

Rodney Cousins and David Glew will be leading these days.

All members and non-members are welcome!

In other news, The Cabin finally has a new owner, and the property is no longer on the market.

Sunday, 31 May 2015


 'THE CABIN' is a 17th Century Grade II listed mud and stud cottage in Thimbleby, Lincolnshire.

It is looking for a caring owner, who understands the needs of mud and stud cottages.

It is a double bedroomed home, inclusive of a vaulted reception room with a mezzanine, kitchen, bathroom and off road parking with attractive gardens laid to lawn.

Could this home be for you?
 Guide Price is £159,950 but is negotiable.

You can find this property on rightmove and 'on the market' with JH Walter, Lincoln below!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


The next EMESS Meeting will take place in June (date to be agreed), where a walkabout in the village of Moorby was proposed by Rodney Cousins.

Following that, during the National Heritage Open Days, the Barn at Tumby will be on display on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th september 2015, when Rodney Cousins and David Glew will be in attendance. Other members are welcome.


EMESS held its  most recent meeting on Saturday the 4th April 2015 at the barn at Tumby Moorside, Lincolnshire. This is a Grade II listed building which the society is gradually repairing, by carrying out the work on a like for like basis. Those who attended were: Rodney Cousins, Trevor Oliver, Eleanor Harris, Tony Bonham and David Glew.

The work carried out this time including mixing and applying mud repairs to the original mud and stud walling, to maintain it's structural integrity. In addition the base of a length of the south wall was stabilised by laying salvaged bricks in mud mortar, to continue repairs which were started a few years ago. The French drain along the south wall was also repaired, by excavating and sieving gravel, and putting it back inside the line of bricks, to reduce the volume of rising damp within the walls. Finally, limewash was applied to previous mud repairs on the north and south walls, to help protect the walls in the future.

During a short business meeting, Eleanor Harris was welcomed as the new blog-master and all information on future meetings and news will be published by information from David Glew.
Rodney Cousins has expressed a concern at both the current and active members of the society, and the society's limited income. Any suggestions on these matters are welcome, email David Glew,

University of Lincoln Architecture Students are invited back if they want to carry out the repairs on the barn in October, anyone who is interested please email David Glew.

Finally, our internationalist group member,Trevor Oliver has reported on his experience researching and experiencing rammed earth in Austrailia, as well as Straw-bale constrcution plastered in mud. He has also recently returned from his annual visit to Romania, where he has been working on and repairing mud buildings.