My name is Tom Vaughan, and I am Devon Hen Houses! I'm a woodworker who has a love of crafting high quality hand made timber hen houses from my workshop in South Devon.
Following a break from mainstream teaching to take a road trip to Morocco, with my now wife in the autumn of 2008, I decided that it was now or never if I ever wanted to make a living as a craftsman. I have always been inspired by my father’s ability and skill as a silversmith, and I longed work with my hands. The designing and making of hen houses evolved organically and dovetailed in perfectly with my return from Morocco. That winter we built my father a new hen house for his flock (in wood, not silver!) based on a design we developed as a family around the kitchen table. The result was so successful, and created such a buzz amongst his friends, neighbours and customers that I decided to build a few show homes and see if I could sell them from a website and at one or two of the local agricultural shows. The houses and website were a big hit, and as a result Devon Hen Houses continues to develop and grow today.
The ethos of what we achieved with the original 'Palace' remains central to a Devon Hen House: well designed, hand made, using the highest quality materials and sustainability sourced timbers to produce hen houses that are really functional, easy to clean, safe and with an understated aesthetic quality. I now make a wide variety and size of hen house, with or without run attachments. I am also very happy to individualise your hen houses to suit your needs as I welcome the chance to design and build bespoke hen houses, or any other outdoor timber structure for that matter!
2010 was a fantastic year of growth and development for Devon Hen Houses, with our inclusion in the Made by the Hands of Britain craft directory, as well as The Chicken Vet recommending our houses to their clients; A glowing endorsement. 2011 and 2012 has continued in the same vain, with a busy order book despite the wash out of nearly all summer show this season, it’s very exciting times here.
My other real passion is for green woodworking. In the autumn of 2009 I was involved in the BBC 2 series ‘Mastercrafts’ looking at this wonderful traditional rural craft. Over six weeks I learnt to carve wooden bowls, cleave freshly felled timber, and build chairs using traditional hand tools and no glue. Our final ‘challenge’ was to design and craft a greenwood chair of our own design, and mine was judged to be the winning chair! Since the Mastercrafts experience I have continued to immerse myself into the greenwood world. I have a website www.thegreenwoodchairproject.co.uk which is all about my passion for green woodworking. There are sections on the greenwood chairs I have made, my experience on the ‘Mastercrafts’ programme, a blog and contact information if you would like to find out more, or commission your own unique greenwood chair, shave horse or pole lathe.
I also teach on various greenwood working courses at the Woodland Workshop in Dorset, as well as helping out with the expansion of the woodland workshop into the Woodland Crafty Camping site in early 2012. We built and fitted out three luxury yurts, along with woodland showers and a woodland kitchen. It’s a fantastic place to go and work, and I recommend you take a look by following the link here if you fancy a stay in one of the Clamping yurts or having a go at pole lathe turning or greenwood chair making. (www.mallinson.co.uk)
My first workshop where I really started moving forward with building the hen houses was located in between Holbeton and Newton Ferrers, in South Devon. I shared this space with another carpenter and good friend Chris Amey. He is fantastically talented and produces beautiful timber sculptures. We have worked together on various projects as they come along, including the design and building of a whole forest school for All Hallows Prep School, and a range of outdoor play decks and structures for Free Rangers Forest School Nursery in Somerset. Our website www.greenwoodspaces.com has a great photo gallery of the work we do together. My wife Leonie has just succeeded in getting a Physiotherapy job in Cornwall, so we are currently in the process of relocating. For the time being I will be keeping my workplace on in Devon, while I find a suitable space in Cornwall to continue with design and making.
I get a real buzz from creating useful and beautiful things with wood and I feel very lucky to be able to make a living in this way, and if you like the look of my work, I would love to design and build a hen house for you and your feathered friends!