The tree-ring dating of Wymering Manor
Tree ring dating or dendrochronology is used to to find out when a tree was cut down. The pattern of tree rings visible in a sample from a timber beam is compared to the sequence for the area, where each ring is dated to a particular season and year. When there is a match between the sample and the sequence, it reveals the date when the tree was cut down (and the tree stopped growing).
Hampshire's Historic Buildings Survey Group commissioned the dendro-dating of Wymering Manor. The survey was paid for jointly by them and the Friends of Old Wymering. We are grateful to the Historic Buildings Survey Group for their help.
Dr. Martin Bridge from the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory visited Wymering Manor on Monday 25 February 2008. He took seven timber core samples of some of the beams in Wymering Manor and was very pleased that some still had the outermost layers of tree rings. These are valuable for dating as they show clearly when the tree stopped growing and so the year it was cut down.
Dr Bridge was able to match the tree rings in the Wymering Manor samples against the pattern of tree rings from other sites. His initial findings are that the trees used for timber at Wymering Manor were most probably felled in the spring of 1581. This makes construction of the original part of the present house most likely in 1581 or within a year or two of this date, while the wood was still green and easily worked. This makes the existing house of late 16th century origin rather than early 17th century as previously thought. The existing house was, therefore, first occupied during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and just a few years before the Spanish Armada.
Because the Manor House dates from the fourth quarter of the 16th century, a period poorly represented by buildings in Hampshire, the Hampshire Historic Buildings Survey Group have expressed interest in paying further visits to the Manor. They wish to study the building in greater detail.