Belton Church by Limecraft Tuition

History of Flintwork


Flint is a fine-grained silica, very hard, impervious and occurring typically as small, irregular nodules. When freshly extracted from chalk, these are black with a white crust, but weathered flints – from fields, river-beds, beaches or gravel pits – can vary in colour from blue and grey to yellow, brown and orange. Flint has been employed for a wide range of building types in southern and eastern England since Roman times. It has been used for thick, rubble-cored walls and, from the 19th century, facing skins on backings of brick or other stone. Walls can be approximately dated by their coursing, mortar composition and whether flints are used whole, fractured or knapped.

Knapped flints are nodules split to achieve a deliberate aesthetic effect rather than those simply fractured, ie broken naturally or crudely severed to reduce them to a convenient size. Knapping involves breaking the flint into workable pieces (‘quartering’) and, with finer work, chipping away (‘flaking’) to even the surface and square the end. ‘Flushwork’ comprises knapped flint set on the same plane (ie flush) as the face of dressed stone. It may be either flint infillings between stone slabs motared onto a wall (creating, for example, chequer patterns and bands) or inlays of flint fitted into small, carefully-shaped recesses in stone slabs (to form trefoil-headed panels or heraldic shields, etc). Flushwork tracery reached its apogee during the 15th century on East Anglian churches.


The popularity of the material can be traced to the revival of brick-making in eastern England in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. This was a direct result of lack of local stone, an increasing shortage of good timber, and the influence of Europe where brickwork was used extensively....more (external site)


Pargeting derives from the word 'parget', a Middle English term that is probably derived from the Old French pargeter or parjeter, to throw about, or porgeter, to roughcast a wall. However, the term is more usually applied only to the decoration in relief of the plastering between the studwork on the outside of half-timber houses, or sometimes covering the whole wall.

Lime Rendering

Dense, cement-rich mortars shrink on drying, and fine capillary cracks develop that admit water and cause dampness internally. This can accelerate decay and possibly lead to structural failure in a wall. Lime-based mortars give the best results. Their porous nature allows walls to ‘breathe’, moisture to evaporate and fine cracks to ‘heal’. While a non-hydraulic lime may be appropriate for repointing flintwork, a mix with a faster and harder set is likely to be desirable for rebedding flints and copings, or filling cracks. This can be achieved by adding pozzolans (materials such as dust from soft and low-fired bricks) or using a natural hydraulic lime (strong hydraulic limes, however, should be avoided).

Local Places To See

St Olaves Priory, St Olaves. This small Augustinian priory was founded by Roger FitzOsbert in about 1216....more (external site)

Castle Acre Priory, Castle Acre. This important Norfolk visitor attraction is one of the largest and best preserved monastic sites in England dating back to 1090....more (external site)

Burgh Castle, Burgh Castle. The imposing stone walls, with added towers for catapults, of a Roman 3rd century 'Saxon Shore' fort.....more (external site)



Lynda was able to carry out simple pargetting of a squirrel and mouse in lime mortar and thoroughly enjoyed her time with us as did Bob her husband who laid bricks and was speedy with the flintwork.

Lynda & Bob

May 2016

Christine and Peter worked together raised a red brick pillar with adjoining flint work and brought their friends over to view their achievement

Christine & Peter

June 2016