Charley Brentnall

Charley Brentnall


Joined Carpenter Oak: 1987

Interview with Charley Brentnall

It’s no exaggeration to describe Charley Brentnall as a recognised leader in the UK’s oak framing industry.  Charley helped to drive the current renaissance in timber-framing in the UK.

When Charley established Carpenter Oak over thirty years ago, many of the skills of traditional timber framing had been lost to history.  Those medieval skills had to be rediscovered – and the best way to do this was to undertake conservation work on many of our oak frame buildings, using almost forensic techniques to uncover evidence of past construction methods so that we could relearn those forgotten skills.

Charley’s conservation work included returning many derelict barns into use – often as homes.  As those buildings became less available, it was natural for Charley to turn to creating new ‘barn-like’ houses for those who wanted them.  From this, today’s Carpenter Oak was born.

Charley is a Make Tutor on the Design Make programme with Dartmoor Arts and a visiting lecturer at the Universities of Bath and Dartmoor Arts.  A member of the Timber Framers’ Guild, Carpenters’ Fellowship, ICOMOS and SPAB, he is also a past member of BWF British Standards committee.  In recent years, Charley has been involved in the Studio In The Woods project, with architect Piers Taylor.  This is an education programme which promotes the exchange of architectural knowledge and skills through both experimentation and direct experience. Charley has led some of the UK’s most important oak-frame conservation projects, including the restoration of the ceiling at Windsor Castle and the restoration of Shackleton and Scott’s huts in Antarctica.

Image: Ellie Walpole

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