There are many charming things about Britain. Afternoon tea and scones (do you spread the jam or the clotted cream first?). walks in gardens and parks that are mysterious and romantic. wall waves. Wavy walls, what? Walls with waves
Since becoming popular in the United Kingdom, wavy walls have spread to other countries, including the United States. Crinkle crankle garden walls, how much do you love that moniker? are much more cost-effective than straight walls because they use fewer bricks overall. Probably like us, dear Pandas, you initially thought, “That doesn’t make any sense!” Because wavy walls can be one brick thick, they actually use less bricks overall. If you made straight walls one brick wide, they would collapse. All of the wall’s curves also give it stability.
Dear Pandas, wiggle your scroll wheels down our post and write us a cursive comment about what you think. Continue reading for our interview with Suffolk resident Ed Broom about crinkly, creaky walls. Ed has compiled a list of all the wavey walls in his area.
There are many charming crinkle-crankle garden walls in the UK.
They take fewer bricks to build than straight walls because they’re only one brick thick
Wavy walls are gorgeous, great for growing fruit trees in the alcoves, and for defending your garden (if it ever comes to that)
Ed described how he waded his way into the curvy world of serpentine walls: “I was trying to find something uniquely Suffolk for a local writing competition in 2015 when I chanced across crinkle-crankle walls.”
“I read on several websites that Suffolk, where I live, had over 50 instances, but the original list—which local historian Norman Scarfe began compiling in the 1960s—had vanished. Since then, I’ve been attempting to compile my own list. After visiting over 100 so far, every time I think I’m done, another one appears.
Ed told Bored Panda that people are still building new wavy walls in the UK. “From individual projects (like one at Ashbocking, built in 1999) to those peppering new estates (like those in a new development at Lavenham by architects Wincer Kievenaar) where they’re added as a nod to the local Suffolk style,” he said.
“But the older ones can require maintenance or repair too, especially if driven into by a passing car (as happened at Easton in 2013). Due to the cost of a proper repair, some don’t survive.”
Crinkle crankle connoisseur Ed added that the advantages of serpentine walls are that they use fewer bricks, are ideal ‘hot walls’ for growing soft fruit in the concave alcoves, and give you “bragging rights over your neighbor!”
Wavy walls aka crinkle crankle walls go by many names, most of which would appeal to Draco Malfoy. They are also known as crinkum crankum, serpentine, and ribbon walls. In 18th century England, wavy walls were used for growing fruit. That’s why back then they were usually built East to West, so that one side would always be facing South to catch the warming rays of the sun.
A lot of crinkle crankle walls are found in the East Anglia region where Dutch engineers drained the marshes of The Fens in the 17th century. These engineers are thought to be the original builders of the serpentine walls in the UK. Back then, the Dutch called them slangenmuur—snake walls.
However, serpentine walls aren’t meant just for gardening. They also provide strategic advantages when defending against invaders. Because of their undulating design, attacking troops would be forced to break ranks and that would make them vulnerable to counterstrikes from defenders. Something to keep in mind if your garden’s ever invaded by apple thieves or sneaky squirrels.
This is what people had to say about the serpentine walls that were popularized in Britain