DERBYSHIRE HERITAGE Derbyshire Peak District - higger-tor
 

Hopton Hall crinkle crankle wall
Hopton Hall crinkle crankle wall

Crinkle crankle walls, also known in various parts of the country as crinkum crankum, serpentine walls, ribbon walls and wavy walls, are an unusual type of garden wall with curving lines following a serpentine path rather than a straight line.

There are several benefits to this type of wall.
Since they can be made just one brick thin the crinkle crankle wall economizes on bricks, despite its sinuous configuration. If a wall this thin were to be made in a straight line, without buttresses, it would easily topple over. The alternate convex and concave curves in the wall provide stability and help it to resist lateral forces.

Both crinkle and crankle are defined as something with bends and turns (Webster's), but the term is also thought to come from Old English meaning zig-zag. The earliest reference to this meaning has been cited in 1598, but it was not until the 18th century that the term began to be applied to wavy walls. At that time these garden walls were usually aligned east-west, so that one side faced south to catch the warming sun and were historically used for growing fruit.

Some schools of thought attribute this type of construction to Dutch engineers who were draining the fens in the mid-1600s and called them 'slange muur' meaning snaking wall.
It would appear the highest number of such walls is to be found in Suffolk who at 50 examples have twice as many as the rest of the country combined and where crankle is said to be derived from the local dialect.

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