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Outbuilding of the Week: Plankbridge Shepherd’s Huts

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Outbuilding of the Week: Plankbridge Shepherd’s Huts

March 17, 2017

In England’s bucolic south west, the rolling hills, moors, and woodlands will be forever associated with the 19th century novelist Thomas Hardy. And at Plankbridge, which produces hand-crafted shepherd’s huts, a little bit of Hardy’s own time lives on.

Richard Lee, who trained as a furniture designer, and Jane Dennison discovered an ancient hut near Thomas Hardy’s cottage in Dorset and then set about making their own. Now the couple and their team of artisans make huts that start at £19,800 for the Simply Classic, with bespoke huts starting at £22,225 and a new larger Living Hut around £35,000. Let’s take a closer look:

Photography courtesy of Plankbridge.

 Shepherd’s huts have dotted the landscape in parts of rural England for hundreds of years, when they were pulled out into the hills to provide shelter for shepherds: in Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy described Gabriel Oak nursing a lamb in his shepherd’s hut.
Above: Shepherd’s huts have dotted the landscape in parts of rural England for hundreds of years, when they were pulled out into the hills to provide shelter for shepherds: in Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy described Gabriel Oak nursing a lamb in his shepherd’s hut.
Plankbridge stays true to the traditional Victorian design of Hardy’s time with a curved corrugated metal roof (in other parts of the country peaked roofs are used), while sides can either be in traditional corrugated panels or in any type of timber including oak or larch.
Above: Plankbridge stays true to the traditional Victorian design of Hardy’s time with a curved corrugated metal roof (in other parts of the country peaked roofs are used), while sides can either be in traditional corrugated panels or in any type of timber including oak or larch.

At Plankbridge, staying true to the tradition of the original shepherd’s huts is not hard, as the firm acquired copies of the original blueprints from local Dorchester foundry Lott and Walne, established in 1899. The huts today are still made with a metal chassis and four sturdy cast iron wheels.

The company has built huts to be used as writers and artist’s studios, extra living accommodation, and even a gardener’s hut fitted out with potting benches, tools, extra windows, and a parquet floor.
Above: The company has built huts to be used as writers and artist’s studios, extra living accommodation, and even a gardener’s hut fitted out with potting benches, tools, extra windows, and a parquet floor.

The beauty of the shepherd’s hut is that it blends into any landscape. Prince Charles has a Plankbridge hut at his Gloucestershire home, Highgrove. The huts are also used at The Pig on the Beach and at National Trust properties too.

 The larger Living Hut, has been introduced after customers asked for more livable spaces; it can be fitted with a kitchen and bathroom and is cozy year round with double glazed oak windows, an oak stable door, and a 3-kilowatt woodburning stove.
Above: The larger Living Hut, has been introduced after customers asked for more livable spaces; it can be fitted with a kitchen and bathroom and is cozy year round with double glazed oak windows, an oak stable door, and a 3-kilowatt woodburning stove.
In the regular sized huts there’s still room for a cozy double bed.
Above: In the regular sized huts there’s still room for a cozy double bed.

N.B.: For more shepherd’s huts, see Camping in the Lake District: Shepherd’s Huts in Greystoke Forest.

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