Bressummer

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A typical summer beam with slender joists in the ceiling of a cafe in the Netherlands. Image: Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

A bressummer, breastsummer, summer beam (somier, sommier, sommer, somer, cross-somer, summer, summier,[1] summer-tree,[2] or dorman, dormant tree) are load bearing beams in a timber framed building. The word summer derived from sumpter or French sommier, “a pack horse“, meaning “bearing great burden or weight“. “To support a superincumbent wall”, “any beast of burden”, and in this way is similar to a wall plate.

The use and definition of these terms vary but generally a bressummer is a jetty sill and a summer is an interior beam supporting ceiling joists, see below:

  • (U. K.) In the outward part of the building, and the middle floors (not in the garrets or ground floors) into which the girders are framed. In the inner parts of a building, such beams are called "summers". It is part of the timber frame construction in the over-hanging upper story in jettying.[3]
  • (U. K.) "Horizontal beam over a fireplace opening (alternatively lintel, mantel beam), or set forward from the lower part of a building to support a jettied wall, a jetty bressummer".[4]
  • (U. K.) "...usually the sill of the upper wall above a jetty; otherwise any beam spanning an opening and supporting a wall above."[5] also called a "jetty sill".
  • (U. K.) Breastsummer is a beam in a wall which carries the load over a large opening derived from breast being in the front, mid-level and summer: "A horizontal, bearing beam in a building; spec. the main beam supporting the girders or joists of a floor...".[6]
  • “a main piece of timber that supports a building, an architrave between two pillars“[7]
  • "Breast-Summer, an architectural term for a beam employed like a lintel to support the front of a building, is a corruption of bressumer..."[8]
  • (U.S.A.) "Summer beam: A large timber spanning a room and supporting smaller floor joists on both sides."[9]
  • (U.S.A.) "Summer beam. Heavy main horizontal beam, anchored in gable foundation walls, that supports forebay beams and barn frame above."[10]

In addition, breastsummer (but not bressummer) can also be used to describe a dark shade of green. The name of the color comes from the shade of green of the leaves on the trees that were originally used to build bressummers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Dictionary of the Old English Language
  2. ^ 1913 Webster
  3. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. 
  4. ^ Alcock, N. W.. Recording timber-framed buildings: an illustrated glossary. London: Council for British Archaeology, 1989. G4, 14h, 15b. ISBN 1872414729
  5. ^ Harris, Richard. Discovering timber-framed buildings. 2d ed. Aylesbury: Shire Publications, 1979. 94. ISBN 0747802157.
  6. ^ "Breastsummer" def. 1. Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009
  7. ^ Bailey; Kennett, 1695
  8. ^ Folk-etymology: A Dictionary of Verbal Corruptions Or Words... quoting Parker's Glossary of Architecture
  9. ^ Sobon, Jack. Build a classic timber-framed house: planning and design, traditional materials, affordable methods. Pownal, Vt.: Storey Communications, 1994. 191.ISBN 0882668412
  10. ^ Ensminger, Robert F.. The Pennsylvania barn: its origin, evolution, and distribution in North America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 392.