Wychert Vale: What’s in a name?
Wychert (pronounced ‘Which’urt’) means ‘white earth’ It is a natural blend of pale weathered limestone which makes up the lower sub-soil of our villages. It is mixed with straw to make walls and buildings, usually then thatched or topped with red clay tiles to protect the walls from the weather. This historic method of building construction is similar to ‘cob’ found in counties such as Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire. The term ‘Wychert’ is unique to Buckinghamshire and only found in our part of the Vale of Aylesbury. When seeking a name for our benefice, we discovered that all of our villages had houses or walls made of Wychert, but very few villages outside of the benefice had this type of construction.
Taking the name Wychert Vale reminded us that we needed to be built together in Christ:
‘As you come to him the living stone, rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him, you also like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’ 1 Peter 2:4-5 (NIV)
Wychert must not become too dry for risk of crumbling, nor too wet for risk of turning to a slime. Keeping wychert well ventilated and not subject to excess condensation is therefore highly recommended. Any render applied to a wychert wall must therefore be of a breathable material. In coming together we needed to be built on solid foundations and support each other to keep the spiritual life of our churches alive and help one another in mission:
‘By the grace God has given me, I [Paul] laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.’ 1 Corinthians 3:10-13 (NIV)