The Charles Archive

Freddie Charles Collection:  The Talbot, Chaddesley Corbett ©WCC.  One of c.2000 slides of Worcestershire’s historic buildings

The archive of F. W.B (Freddie) and Mary Charles Chartered Architects was deposited with Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service (WAAS) shortly prior to Freddie’s death in 2002. Freddie Charles (1912-2002) was an architect and nationally recognised expert on the conservation and repair of timber-framed buildings.  With his wife, architect Mary Charles (nee Logan, 1924-2005), he set up an architect’s practice that eventually specialised in historic timber-framed buildings.  Throughout their careers Freddie and Mary were involved in the restoration of many important timber-framed buildings including the Ancient High House in Stafford, The Old White Hart Inn, Newark (Notts) and over 250 buildings in Worcestershire, many of them of national importance.  Their publications included the seminal Conservation of Timber Buildings, first published in 1984, Medieval cruck-building and its derivatives: A study of timber-framed construction based on buildings in Worcestershire (Society for Medieval Archaeology. Monographs; no.2 – 1967) and The Great Barn of Bredon: Its Fire and Reconstruction (Oxbow Monographs 1997). In terms of the practice’s wider influence, it was a training ground for many of the next generation of architects working on the conservation of timber buildings. The practice also completed the accelerated resurvey of listed buildings in Hereford & Worcester in the mid-1980s for English Heritage.

Freddie Charles Collection:  The Commandery, Worcester. Historic reconstruction of shop and workshop as it would have looked c.1450 ©WCC

In 2018 Historic England funded a partnership project between WAAS and Worcester City Historic Environment Record to fully catalogue the collection held by WAAS and then digitise a selection of images from what was considered to be the most important and informative material. This included whole street surveys from Friar Street and High Street Droitwich, which has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, to colour photographs and slides, and interpretive sketches for projects such as a zoo at Abbey Park in Redditch and a boat house at Tardebigge.  The digital archive is available on the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) website and access to the physical catalogued material is available through the Explore the past desk at The Hive.

Freddie Charles Collection: A visualisation for a new building at Tardebigge Wharf, near Bromsgrove that was never built. ©WCC

A number of outputs were created through the project, these can be downloaded below. Twenty-one Blog posts have also been published on various elements of the collections.  These can be read on our Explore the Past Blog.

Transforming traditional archives in a digital world: The practice archive of F.W.B. and Mary Charles Chartered Architects – A Case Study on the challenges of creating a digital archive

Timber-framed Buildings of Worcester A walking trail inspired by the life and works of F.W.B ‘Freddie’ & Mary Charles.  Please see Print Version and Online View

Timber-framed Buildings of Droitwich A walking trail inspired by the life and works of F.W.B ‘Freddie’  & Mary Charles. Please see Print Version and Online View