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. Though I've no evidence for it - I bet the brickies charged extra!!!
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!
Here's an interesting fact which was first passed into my grey cells from B.B.C.'s 'POINTLESS'. The correct name for this specific brick pattern is Diaper - yes, that's right - Diaper, as in the American nappy! This isn't an implied slur on the bricky's skill level rather there is actually a logical explanation, in that for some time the earliest diapers were made from material which had a similar pattern!!!
March, 2023, I received an email from architect Mark Staples, pointing out that both the pattern and its label predate the American diaper industry by several centuries, Lincoln Cathedral interior [14th century] being a case in point. During a Victorian era revival, the leading architect A.W.N. Pugin actually incorporated 'diaper' within the embellishments of his own home!
I don't want to be accused of jumping on bandwagons, but it would seem to be possible, indeed more likely, that the 'diaper' name sharing actually happened in the opposite direction.
However, cynical old so-and-so that I am, I'll take a lot of convincing that the middle-aged, middle-ages brickies weren't savvy enough to make a premium groat out of a burnt offering! However, I think we're firmly marooned in “Chicken and Egg” territory as far as availability of any actual proof is concerned!
Thanks to Mark Staples, for taking the time to share this information.
For a more authoritative position on many aspects of the above, Mark proffered the following link…
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Latest update - March 11, 2023
The BAYKO name and Logo are the Registered Trade Mark of Transport of Delight.