LITTLE KNOWN ARCHITECTURAL FACT #273
BURNT BRICKS

If you haven’t noticed them before, the next time you visit an early English brick-built property, take a moment to admire the different coloured decorative brick inserts which are widely used on such homes.  What inspired such brickwork?  What artisanal tricks were used to create hand-made bricks of different colours?  Were these exceptional bricks much more valuable and expensive?
  Elizabethan brickwork - burnt bricks pattern
According to the information cards at the National Trust’s Sutton House in East London, all those questions are too wide of the mark to warrant an answer.  Apart from being of architectural interest, I also see a parallel here with BAYKO’s ‘Oak’ bricks, where a cheaper ingredient, sawdust, was used to generate a premium product.  Five hundred years or so ago, brick firing was not a perfectly executed science like it is today.  There were hot spots in the kilns where some of the bricks were overcooked, often resulting in them being ‘burnt’ to a significantly darker shade than the bulk of the batch.
 
Bricks were far too expensive to discard in those days, even if they were discoloured, so the entrepreneurial craftsmen set them aside, and made a premium product out of the discolouration, using them for the decorative brick patterns!
 
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