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    Building a Conjecturally Period Pavilion

    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir

    Posts : 28
    Join date : 2011-06-02
    Age : 50

    Building a Conjecturally Period Pavilion

    Post  Dame Katrin Karlsdottir on Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:29 pm

    [This is an article from

    Cariadoc's Miscellany. The Miscellany is
    Copyright (c) by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992.
    For copying details, see the

    Miscellany Introduction.]
    Building a Conjecturally Period Pavilion

    Some years ago, we decided to try to build a pavilion that would be authentic,
    reasonably portable, and provide adequate space and shelter for long camping
    events such as Pennsic. After looking at all of the period pictures of
    pavilions that we could readily find and failing to find any period
    descriptions of how they were made, we concluded that the best we could manage
    would be a conjecturally period pavilion-one consistent with what we knew about
    period pavilions and period materials. We have so far built three, starting
    with a half size model, going on to one that we thought was large enough for
    us, and ending with one that is large enough for us; in building each we
    attempted to correct problems discovered in its predecessor. This is a
    description of our third pavilion.
    Basic Design

    One common period pavilion design is roughly conical, with a center pole. It
    seems clear from pictures that at least some such pavilions did not have side
    poles. One of our objectives was portability (we wanted something that could,
    if necessary, be taken to Pennsic by air; our second pavilion was, twice), so
    we designed our pavilion with a center pole but no side poles.

    Pavilions of a generally conical shape seem to come in two varieties. In one,
    both the roof and the walls slope, although the roof is steeper than the wall.
    In the other, the walls are roughly vertical (see picture above). We chose the
    latter design because we thought it would be easier to build.

    Without side poles, one needs something to keep the shoulder of the pavilion
    from collapsing inwards. It appeared that in at least some pavilions this was
    done with a hoop; what it was made of we do not know. In our (ten sided)
    pavilion the hoop consists of a wooden decagon made of ten dowels, each the
    length of a side, connected by leather corner pieces. A taut rope connects each
    pair of adjacent corner pieces, pulling them towards each other in order to
    keep the dowels from pulling out of the corner pieces. The ropes keep the frame
    together, the dowels keep it apart.
    The entire weight of the pavilion hangs from one center pole. This is a problem
    when one wishes to pitch the thing. Getting a long center pole lifted to
    vertical while the weight of an entire pavilion is hanging from the top end is
    not easy. We could barely manage it with our second pavilion (an 8' diameter
    pavilion with a 12' center pole); the third (a 14' diameter pavilion with a 15'
    center pole) would require someone considerably stronger-and longer-than either
    of us.
    We found a solution to this problem in pictures of period pavilions that show
    two ropes running from the top of the center pole down to the ground outside
    the pavilion. We concluded that there were actually three ropes (the third
    would be hidden behind the pavilion and pole). Their function was to hold the
    pole upright. After the pavilion had been pitched its ropes would hold up the
    pole, which suggested that perhaps the function of the extra ropes was to pitch
    the pole without the pavilion.
    The system, as we worked it out, goes as follows. First you pitch the center
    pole, using its own three ropes. Near the top of the center pole is a pulley
    with a rope running through it. Once the pole is pitched, you use the rope and
    pulley to pull the pavilion up the pole. I do not know if this is a correct
    reconstruction of how period pavilions were pitched, but it works.

    The walls of the pavilion consist of rectangles of fabric, hung from the dowels
    just as a curtain hangs from a curtain rod. Each rectangle is sewn to the
    adjacent rectangles, except at the door. The bottom corners of each rectangle
    have clo

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