Graphical Construction Glossary >> Roofs and roofing. >> Roof Trusses >> Hammer Beam Truss

Hammer Beam Truss
The ultimate development of timber roof truss design before the advent of modern materials, the truss uses short hammer beams extending out from the walls instead of a tie beam, to create an open and usually a highly decorative effect. The hammer beam roof is a peculiarly English creation with the finest example being in Westminster Hall.
Hammer Beams
Short horizontal beams built into and braced off the walls to help create larger open spans than would otherwise be possible with the means available at the time.
Hammer Post
A vertical post from the open end of the hammer beam to the principal rafter.
Wall post.
A vertical post against the wall under a hammer beam or tie beam and down to the corbel to secure the curved brace and help transmit roof loads to the corbel.

sketch of a hammer beam roof

The sketch above is a simple elevation of the layout of a short span hammerbeam roof truss. The brace under the hammer beam is sometimes known a a hammer brace.

As was said in the definition these trussed roofs were just about the end of the line for large timber roofs that relied solid timber and little if any iron work. Almost always richly decorated with extensive moulding and carvings the have been copied many times for smaller public buildings because of their graceful appearance.

The hammer beam style roof at raffles hotel singapore

Above is a photo taken inside the beautifully renovated Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Technology at the time could have easy allowed the use of other materials, but the builders chose this version of a hammer beam truss roof because of the style and open feeling that it created.

The most famous and certainly the largest roof of this type was built to cover Westminster hall in London in the end of the 14th century.

Here are links to pages on this site of the three largest roofs of this type in England. They are all open to the public.

Westminster Hall roof.

Hampton Court palace roof to Henry V111's great hall.

Eltham Palace roof to the great hall, built for Edward 1V in the 15th century.

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