Lock stock and barrel

Traditional, blacksmith-made door furniture is growing in popularity, even for new homes. Clive Fewins latches on
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The Independent Online
However recently our houses may have been built, many of us crave a sense of antiquity. One small way of achieving an impression of "age" with authenticity can start at the entrance, with the door latch.

Five different designs of hand-crafted latch are available from a husband- and-wife team based in Suffolk. David and Anwyn Offord, of Stowmarket, trade under the name Ashfield Traditional. Their three "Black Iron" designs are machine-formed, while the two more expensive designs, also black, but with an "aged" patina, formed by drenching the hot material in beeswax, are hand-forged in mild steel.

The three basic styles cost pounds 25.50 per set, which comprises the latch handle and closing mechanism. The two hand-forged designs cost pounds 39.75 and pounds 37.75 per set.

Ashfield Traditional also supplies door pulls and drawer handles in black to complement the latches. There are five styles, all priced at pounds 10.50.

Traditional flat-back pin hinges and T-hinges replicate original designs; cupboard latches, window furniture and sliding bolts are available.

Ashfield Traditional, Forward Green, Stowmarket, Suffolk IP14 5HP. 01449 711273.

Door furniture and locks in hand-forged, reworked wrought iron are the speciality of the blacksmith Nick Gaden. However, a hand-made Suffolk latch in wrought iron made by Gaden will cost you about pounds 140.

Most customers settle for latches cast in bronze. Black or unpainted, they cost pounds 63 each.

Gaden's speciality is matching old locks and door handles. He uses wrought iron frequently for conservation work, where a precise match is required. Many of his designs for traditional locks, thumb latches and cupboard latches are taken from churches and other historic buildings. He will produce these designs to order, in either wrought iron or the much cheaper mild steel.

He also produces a small range of strap hinges and pin hinges, and makes traditional black iron window latches and metal casements to order. The most expensive item in his range is an ornate reproduction 16th-century internal door latch in wrought iron. The price is pounds 250.

Nick Gaden, Blacksmith, Fiddington Farm, Monks Lane, Fiddington, Gloucestershire GL2020 7BJ. 01684 299224.

At IJP Building Conservation, based near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, the blacksmith David Gregory turns out a range of black hand-forged thumb latches, strap hinges, grab handles and butterfly hinges, all in mild steel. A standard Suffolk latch costs pounds 21. For the same item in wrought iron, the price is pounds 25.30.

T-hinges and pin hinges cost from pounds 18 for an 8-in hand-forged pair in black, to pounds 27 for a pair of heavy-gauge strap hinges with a pin fixing.

The company also produces casement fasteners and stays, door stays and fishtail bolts, all in black iron. All items are based on traditional designs, and they can be produced in wrought iron as an alternative.

"Apart from Suffolk latches, we generally stick to mild steel rather than wrought iron for our products," said the director, Ian Pritchett. "For anything other than the standard latches wrought iron would generally at least double the price, because of the extra cost of the material."

IJP Building Conservation,

Hollow Tree Cottage, Binfield Heath, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire R89 4LR (01734 462697)

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