Visiting Speckled Wood at National Trust’s Swan Barn Farm in Haslemere


During the second phase of our renovation project in Haslemere, our clients took us out to visit the straw bale, roundwood timber-framed building used for accommodation for long term volunteers on this National Trust estate.

Speckled Wood is an inspirational building which was constructed by the National Trust in association and collaboration with the local community. The building is constructed from materials sustainably sourced from local woodlands and is designed to echo surrounding landscapes (—building-design-guide.pdf).

We built Speckled Wood entirely from timber grown on the National Trust’s Blackdown estate near Haslemere, Surrey. Named after a butterfly that frequents the local woods, the building is a roundwood frame of sweet chestnut, with larch wall plates and ridge pole. The chestnut shakes were constructed by volunteers on national trust working holidays. The building is used by long term volunteers/apprentices who then go on to work on other national trust land. By design, the residents should embody the essence of sustainability by living in speckled wood. Ben Law

Built by Ben Law, for pictures of the building process click here: and with Dylan Walker (

With timber shingles and the undulating straw walls this building has a strong organic feel, fitting nicely into the surround landscape. Straw bale walls can be built to straight lines and sharp corners but the curves and undulations work well here, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere inside. The thick timber window ledges, lime plaster and hand-built roundwood staircase make this a great space to live when volunteering for National Trust.

The short trip provided a strengthening break to get some fresh air during an intense phase of construction as well as the chance to see work crafted by the hands of several of our colleagues and friends.