In 2011 we employed Liz Clarke, who knows a lot about building earth ovens, and also happens to be a member, to help us create one for our garden.
First step was the construction of a wooden base, to raise the oven to a convenient height, and fill it with rammed earth. This was topped with a layer of sand.
Into this was laid a bed of firebricks which became the floor of the oven and of the barbecue pit alongside the oven.
More wet sand was used to create a matrix for the inside of the oven and this was covered with sheets of newspaper.
A week later the creation of the oven walls started, and this is when it became messy and cold.
Although it was spring, the weather was particularly chilly on the day the clay mixture for the walls of the oven was created, especially as it involved the volunteer oven-builders tramping barefoot in circles for what must have seemed like hours, getting the right consistency of clay, sand and straw to make the bricks.
The clay for the oven was a by-product of the hole dug for the big wildlife pond which we had created a few months before.
The work got even messier when it came to making scores of sausage shaped bricks to construct the walls of the oven, and (another week later) when that had cured, putting the final smooth coat of clay on, creating the doorway, and removing the sand matrix.
The oven takes two hours and a lot of wood to reach operating temperature for cooking a pizza, but it’s worth the wait.