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Dundee University - The Urban Conservation Glossary
Category: Architecture and Buildings > Urban conservation
Date & country: 16/01/2008, UK
Words: 876


Fish ponds and stew ponds
traditionally not associated with the garden or ornamental water, these were for the raising or temporary storing of caught fish for the kitchens. Often located some distance from the house and garden (see Moats).

Fissibility
the ease with which a stone can be split along or against, its natural bed. See riven.

Flange
basically, a flattened edge, mainly used to describe the flat mass of metal at the top and/or bottom of a metal joist, or the disc cast or welded at the end of a pipe to enable a joint to be formed.

Flashing
a protective sheet metal detail, usually of lead or copper covering a joint or surface which may be exposed to rain penetration. Where a horizontal meets a vertical surface, flashings are often in two parts, an upstand which turns up the vertical surface with a cover or counter flashing, sec...

Flaunching
a mortar fillet applied around the base of chimney pots to hold them in place and to prevent water penetrating the top of the stack.

Fleche
spirelet of timber, lead, cast iron etc rising from a roof ridge rather than a tower, and often acting as a ventilator.

Flemish bond
a bond where the courses consist of alternate headers and stretchers. See brick/brickwork.

Flint
a pure form of silica found in clay, but most frequently in the chalk deposits of south east England. Very hard and easily split, it has long been used as a building material, only dying out as brick became more widely available. A product of glacial action, flints are usually small and roun...

Flitch beam
a timber beam which has been strengthened by the insertion of a metal plate (flitch plate).

Float
a name for any straight-edged board drawn over plaster or render to produce a smooth (floated) surface. A floating coat is a base coat of plaster or render usually keyed to take a second coat. Sometimes the type of keying for example, diamond pattern, is specified.

Flock
wallpaper in which powdered wool is stuck to the paper to give a pile effect.

Florence Charter
registered by ICOMOS in December 1982 as an addendum to the Venice Charter covering the specific field of historic gardens. It was an acknowledgement that historic gardens were monuments in their own right, and not just 'sites'. Read it

Fluctuations
increases or decreases in costs of labour and materials. see contract.

Flushwork
Sometimes flint is used with dressed stone to form patterns or inscriptions, the result of which is known as flushwork.

Fluting - Channelling
a series of shallow concave grooves, vertical on the shaft of a column. Sometimes referred to rather simplistically as 'channelling'. See classical architecture.

Flying stair
a stair cantilevered from the wall of the stairwell without a newel.

Flyover
stair or platt bridged over a sunken area. (Illustration)

Focus on Kellie Castle, Fife
Kellie castle in Fife, one of the oldest and finest in Scotland. Restored by Sir Robert Lorimer in the 1880s as the family home, it is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. Note the scarcement, (supporting an unhealthy level of plant growth) (Detail) the stair tower in the ...

Foil
leaf shape formed by cusping of a circle in tracery.

Foliated
carved with leaf ornamentation. eg foliated tympanum or pediment, foliated cusps. Can also refer to the beating of metal into thin sheets ie copper, or the separation of mineralogical material into different layers.

Foliation
The separation of a material into separate layers.

Folly
usually costly, often fantastic, and mostly useless structures, which can be as diverse as sham castles, grottos, bridges, pagodas, temples etc many of which were built to appear as ruins. It is easy to be dismissive of them, but in fact they are interesting for a number of reasons. Mostly...

Forestair
(Scottish) an external stair, in stone, sometimes timber, usually to first floor level, but can be higher. Associated mainly with houses of the 18th century, they can be earlier and indeed, can feature in much more modern architecture.

Formwork-Shuttering
braced timber or metal into which tempered earth is rammed or concrete is poured, usually for structural purpose, texture of material eg board shape, is often left on concrete.

Fortification
the whole purpose of fortification is to enable smaller numbers to resist more powerful attacking forces. The three basic elements when defending a site were walls, towers and gates. Defence is a natural reaction and most people are able to identify personally with defensive structures amongst...

Frass
outer layers of timber, usually confined to sapwood, which have been destroyed by insect infestation. Seldom affects structure of older, usually oversized, timbers, but does have some fire risk.

Free stuff
timber with no knots or other imperfections.

Freestone - Liver rock
a stone in which the beds are strongly bonded, making it relatively easy to work in either direction, and durable, suitable for balusters etc. (The better class of mason who would have worked freestones were probably the original freemasons). Freestones are sometimes referred to as liver r...

French Roof
see mansard roof. More generous attic space in later Victorian times.

French window
side hung casements, which are carried down to floor level and open as doors.

Fresco - Secco
painting carried out on wet plaster, a process which has given us some of the world`s great art. Often loosley used to describe any mural painting. Where the plaster is allowed to dry before paint is applied, the process is called 'secco', which is not so durable as fresco.

Fret - Greek Key
ornamental patterns consisting of continuous bands of fillets interlocking at right angles in key shaped patterns. The fillets can be incised, in relief, or painted. Sometimes referred to as 'Greek Key'.

Friends of Friendless churches
formed 1967 to save churches and chapels of architectural and historic interest under threat. Sister organization - Ancient Monuments Society

Frieze
a decorated band on an internal wall below a cornice or the middle division of the entablature, usually heavily decorated. See Classical Architecture.

Frog
the indentation in the face of a brick, which makes it both easy to handle and bed into mortar.

Frost work
the tooling of stone to resemble icicles. Similar to vermiculated.

Fruiting body
see dry rot.

Fungi
curious growths which have a bad press with anyone involved in old buildings who will immediately begin to think of dry rot. They are in fact very important organisms that feed not as plants do through photosynthesis, but absorbs their food externally by breaking down dead organic matter and i...

Gabion
an oblong basket in wire or interlaced metal strips filled with earth stone etc which can be used for reinforcement of anything from river banks to foundations.

Gablet
a small gable used as a decorative feature.

Gait
(gate) Scots word for street which would have originally had a gait or port on it. The name is usually indicitative of its original function eg marketgait, cowgait, along which cows would be driven to common pasture.

Galvanised
a process, available from the mid 1800's (first patented in 1837) , where iron is coated with zinc to protect it from rusting, eg galvanised roofing nails. If not done particularly well, can start to deteriorate after approx 25 years.

Gambrel
a ridged roof finishing at each end on a small vertical gable below which the roof slopes to meet the gable wall. The shape is often described as resembling a horses hind leg

Garden front
of the two main elevations of a house, the garden front is the one which is the more secluded and usually more intimately scaled.

Garden History Society
founded to encourage the study of the history of gardening and horticulture and to promote and advise on the protection and conservation of all historic landscapes, for which purpose, the society employs a number of case officers across the country.

Garden Houses
developed from arbours and banqueting houses. Built for shade in a wide variety of forms (see Pavilions, Pagodas, Root houses, Gazebo).

Garden Orchard
an area of the garden planted with fruit trees. When incorporated in a pleasure garden, the trees are usually grafted onto a dwarfing root stock and the surrounding ground is grassed over and often sown with bulbs.

Garderobe
safe store, but more usually a privy, very often to be found in thickness of a castle wall.

Gargoyle
a projecting water spout, usually grotesquely carved in the form of an animal or human figure.

Gatehouse(s)
building(s) at the entrance to an estate. Early medieval examples are usually partially fortified, later the design became more ornate. Usually served as the home of the gatekeeper (see Lodge).

Gauge
several meanings, all basically relating to size - can be thickness ie of sheet metal, can be the addition of a substance such as PFA to lime mortar to achieve a harder set (gauging) or it can refer to the part of a slate or tile below the lap.

Gauged brickwork
very precisely made bricks laid with fine joints.

Gazebo
tower or lantern but usually a summerhouse or pavilion with a view of the landscape. see belvedere

Geddes, Patrick (1854-1932)
trained as a biologist, Geddes was Professor of Botany at Dundee from 1889-1919 after which he became Professor of Sociology at Bombay University 1920-1923. From 1904 onwards, Geddes began to become actively involved in town planning, a founder member of the RTPI, publication of City Developm...

Geometric
a flying stair whose inner edge is curved.

Georgian
the period from the accession of King George I in 1714 to the death of King George IV in 1830, including therefore the first ten years of the Regency period, which became characterised by the bow front. Initially influenced by Roman antiquity, as Greece became ac...

Georgian Group
founded 1937. Planning authorities are legally obliged to consult on all matters relating to Georgian buildings, (England only). Group has strong interest in all aspects of Georgian built environment, and wherever possible, stimulates knowledge of the period. Publishes excellent advice note...

Gesso
a gypsum compound, or a mixture of chalk and size, which provides a smooth white, absorbent surface, much used in early 19th century for adding ornament to woodwork.

Gibbs surround
treatment of door or window surround where blocks of stone are inserted into the architrave. Used by James Gibbs 1682-1754. Born in Aberdeen, Gibbs followed from Wren as the most influential architect of his day. Influenced by the Baroque, his most notable buildings are St Martins-in-theF...

Gilding
generally taken to mean the covering of furniture, decoration etc with gold leaf, but can also be undertaken in silver and a number of alloys. There are two methods of guilding, oil guilding and water guilding which refers to the manner in which the surface was treated prior to the leaf bein...

Glacis
sloping ground on the attackers side of the covered way, cleared of all obstacles and therefore exposed to defensive fire. See fortification.

Glass
known to man since at least 4000BC, the basic ingredients are sand and a flux to reduce the melting point, such as soda. Ideal ingredients are basically, soda ash, lime and pure white silica sand, which are then fused together at high temperature. The Romans used glass in windows, after wh...

Glasshouse cone
feature of early 19th century glassworks. A giant furnace chimney, big enough for the glassworkers to work inside. Only one left in Scotland at Alloa (Four in Britain). See glass.

Glazing
the cutting of glass and fitting it into sashes or cames, also, the ornamentation of windows with stained glass. A glazing bar is a wood or metal bar supporting, and therefore dividing the glass of a window, can be horizontal or vertical (see astragal). - see Focus on Miln's Buildings ...

Glover
the open cupola which frequently sit on top of doocots, allowing access and providing a place for the birds to sit and preen.

Goad's Insurance plans
started by Charles Goad in 1885. Now available for larger towns and cities throughout the whole United Kingdom, and some mainland European Countries. Originally they were compiled to illustrate the degree of fire risk of various premises. They detailed the use, c...

Golden Section
proportion of approximately 5:8 first used by Greeks, very satisfying to the eye. Far more widely used than many would imagine, many window openings on our older buildings have a width to height ratio which complies, or comes close to the golden section. Read more abou...

Gorge
the rear face of an exterior defensive work. See fortification.

Gothic
a style of architecture which predominated throughout Europe from 12th to early 16th centuries. Evolved from the Romanesque, it is characterised by the pointed arch, ribbed vaults and elaborate traceried window openings. Gothic architecture in England is usually broken down into three phas...

Gothic revival
Gothic architecture never died, but it was only from the early 1800s that it began to re-emerge in a serious fashion. Gothic revival is noticeably different from its medieval predecessor, partly due to standards of craftsmanship etc, but also different building types were involved, ie hotel...

Gothic ruins
artificial ruins of towers, battlements, castles etc erected in gardens and landscapes from C18th onwards. Usually well made in traditional manner using traditional materials, but sometimes also of canvas, wood (also see Sham Castles).

Grade
classification of materials ie grade of plywood, or the slope of a piece of ground.

Grain
the direction of the fibres which make up the wood in relation to the trunk. In straight grained wood the elements lie parallel to each other and to the trunk, as a result of which the wood is easliy split. It is usual to work timber with the grain, ie plane or adze the timber so t...

Graining-Scrumbling-Mottler
a technique of painting lesser quality woodwork in imitation of a better quality wood eg pine to represent seasoned oak. Also known as scrumbling. At its crudest it involves working a semi-transparent coat applied over a base coat with a comb, brush or rag to simulate the grain of the more...

Grange
originally, a farm associated with a monastery.

Granite
a coarse-grained igneous rock cooled and consolidated at depth in the earth's crust. Three essential minerals must be present; feldspar, mica and quartz. (Illustration) It can be very smooth faced, ie axed, fine axed, double axed or polished. The first Aberdeen granite masters actually went ...

GRC
glass reinforced concrete , much used to reproduce large areas of stonework.

Green bricks
are newly cast, wet but firm bricks, which are put into a drying shed or hack to harden up before being transferred to the kiln. See brick/brickwork

Greenhouse
detached structures built in glass and iron or wood for growing plants which need a warmer environment, either due to their exotic nature or in order to force flowers, fruit or vegetables (see Conservatory, Stove House, Orangery, Orchard House).

Greenhouse Corridors
long glass covered walks forming an indoor arbour, predominantly used for growing climbing plants and creepers.

Grid-iron - Organic planning
sometimes simply referred to as the grid or checkerboard planning. The commonest, and the most rational, pattern for planning urban development. Virtually every town and village if not originally planned on a grid has a gridded addition. Grids are all too often p...

Groin
sharp edges where surfaces meet in a groin vault, not covered by ribs. See vault.

Grotto
a simulated natural cave, dug into the earth or built up out of rock and lined with collections of zoological and geological specimens eg stalagmites, shells, bones, altars etc. Usually very atmospheric and often designed to 'disquiet'.

Ground glass
obscure glass formed by grinding one face, usually with sand.

Grout
any mortar containing a considerable amount of liquid which can be either pumped or gravity fed into voids. This sounds a very simple process but is one which requires a great deal of skill and specialist advice.

GRP
glass reinforced plastic. Easily moulded, often used to reproduce decorative cast-iron.

Gunter`s chain
the basic measuring tool for land surveying until the change to metrication was the surveyors chain or 'Gunter`s chain' after Edmund Gunter (1581-1626). 66 feet or 22 yards it is the length of a cricket pitch. One chain square is one - tenth of an acre. The chain has 100 links and every ten l...

Guttae
small projections under the triglyphs in a doric frieze. Said to represent pegs used in the original timber construction. See Classical Architecture.

Gypsum plaster
is basically, calcium sulphate, the raw material for fine plaster, used for finishing the interior surfaces (walls and ceilings) of a building, which sets rapidly on addition of water. Most gypsum is mined, but it is also available as an industrial by-product. Gypsum plaster is not suitable ...

Ha-Ha
a trench, with one side vertical, the other gently sloping, a method of containing livestock, which would be invisible from beyond the vertical side. Often found around the great houses where the occupants wanted an uninterupted view of their property.

Haa Houses
a remarkable series of two and three storey symetrical laird's or merchant's houses found on the Shetland Isles.

Half-hipped
a ridged roof finishing at a gable of which a small section of the top part is angled or hipped, the rest vertical. In effect the opposite of gambrel. See jerkin head

Hammer beam
a hammerbeam is a horizontal timber projecting at wall head level towards the centre of the roofspace, like a tie beam without a central section. Supported on corbels, they carry a vertical timber, the hammer post, which supports a purlin, and is usually braced to a collar beam. ...

Hammer Dressed \ bull-faced
stonework, hammered to a projecting rock-faced finish, sometimes also known as bull-faced.

Hanging chimney \ smoking chimney
a large canopy chimney, in which meat, fish or other foodstuffs were hung to smoke. Also called a smoking chimney.

Harl \ harling
(Scottish) a form of roughcast widely used throughout Scotland and the north of England, in which a mixture of an aggregate (usually small even-sized pebbles) and a binding material (traditionally sand and lime, latterly portland cement) is dashed, or hurled (harled) on to a masonry wall. ...

Haunch
one side or the shoulder of the broad base to a wallhead chimney; also the side of an arch between its crown and its pier. (Illustration)

Head
top edge of a slate. Slate Terminology Diagam

Head lap
the distance the leading edge of a slate overlaps the nail hole of the slate two courses below. Slate Terminology Diagam

Header
a brick or stone with its longer length set at right angles to the face of the wall, so that only its end appears on the face of the wall.