Anatomy of a Hut

A close look inside a few huts

For many restoring a shepherds hut, the question is often asked ‘what were they like inside?’, though there are big variations between on design and another, there are some basic features that can be seen in all virtually all huts. The first thing to consider is what the basic function of these portable agricultural buildings were; in a nutshell:

  •  Provide portable shelter for the shepherd and a store for his tools
  • A bed for the night and a simple table
  • A safe place to store medicines required for the flock
  • An emergency shelter for orphaned or injured Lambs

This page gives an indication of how the above requirements have been catered for in a number of different huts. Dependant on the size of hut or the terrain where it was used, some or all of the requirements could be meet. The number of wheels were variable as well, we have seen a two wheeled hut, have discovered a number of three wheelers and have come across some big estate huts with either two bunk beds or even a double bed!

      Kimberly Hut with a small medicine chest          Gressenhall rural life museums hut


The two huts above both have the original lamb racks (cages) at the rear of the hut. A simple fold out table normally fitted along one side. A straw filled mattress and an oil lamp finished off the simple list of luxuries. The Bicycle is a later addition, albeit this one belongs to a Shepherds wife.   


Two more variations on the theme. The hut on the left has a simple bed along one side, this is quite common if the hut is too narrow for a shepherd to sleep. Against the left hand wall is a ‘Shepherd’s box’. This is a wooden trunk where the Shepherd would store his tools and medicines during the winter months. It would normally be taken home to the Shepherd’s cottage and replenished ready for the next lambing season. The hut on the right belongs to Gerald Beavis, and the walls are covered with rosettes and certificates from numerous sheep showing competitions. Just out of site to the left of the door is the ubiquitous stove, two examples of which appear below.


Two  slab sided stoves which were commonly found in Shepherds huts. A very small Tortoise stove was commonly used for this purpose as well. However accidents did happen, a number of huts that I am aware of showed signs of fire damage when they have been stripped down in restoration. Hence a steel plate was nearly always put on the floor under the stove. I have also seen steel sheet on the surrounding walls to prevent scorching. Most stoves were beside the door, however I have seen stoves on one side of the hut with the flue exiting through the side.

If you are looking for a stove for your hut, original slab sided stoves are as rare as ‘hens teeth’, but a good search of salvage reclamation yards or Antique shops in your area might find a small tortoise stove. Expect to pay at least £150-180 for a restored stove, or £60-100 for one in need of restoration. Don’t forget the steel plate on the floor though, our stove becomes cherry red in around 30 minutes!