Style and Design
The Forest Blockley, which you may also find badged as the Bibury in its 7x7 incarnation and the Highworth or Honeybourne as an 8x8 building, is an intelligently thought out corner summerhouse with plenty of space, a traditional pentagonal design and large fixed windows to ensure a bright and sunny interior. The apex roof ensures ample headroom and overall the building has a rather striking appearance, guaranteed to enhance any corner of the garden. You can get a superb idea of just what this summerhouse has to offer in this promotional video from the manufacturer, Forest Garden (video opens in a new window).
The Blockley is constructed in 12mm shiplap tongue and groove cladding of FSC approved mixed softwoods on 45 x 45mm framing. The floor also is of tongue and groove construction while the roof is OSB sheet finished in roofing felt. The summerhouse is of high quality durable design, the wood used in the walls and floor being pressure treated with a 15 year manufacturer's guarantee. The windows are styrene glazed for safety.
The smaller version (the Blockley or Bibury) is nominally 7' x 7' with a total width of 10' (3.06m) and depth of 7'9'' (2.36m) at its widest and deepest points. The height at the apex of the roof is 7'10'' (2.4m).
The larger version (the Honeybourne or Highworth) has a footprint of 8' x 8' nominally with overall dimensions of 11'5'' (3.48m) wide and 8'4'' (2.54m) deep. The roof height is the same as the smaller version.
The double doors of both versions are an accommodating 6' (1.83m) wide by 5'10'' (1.78m) high.
As mentioned above the timbers and supporting joists (but not the OSB roof) of the Blockley are pressure treated meaning that no further treatment is required at the time of installation. A decorative finish may be applied if this is preferred.
Depending on the supplier an installation option may be available at additional cost.
The Blockley is delivered free to the majority of areas with full instructions ready for assembly by the purchaser. Here's a link to the full assembly instructions to let you see exactly what's involved (opens in a new window).
See the details of sellers and prices given above.
We see the Blockley as a reliable buy if you're looking for a corner summerhouse with one or two advantages over many of its competitors.
The style is attractive - the apex roof is slightly different to what you would usually find in a corner design - and the large windows in both the walls and door will ensure that the interior is always bright and cheerful. The windows are fixed and there are two schools of thought on that. Firstly, fixed windows can't be opened for ventilation on a hot summer day, nor can they be left slightly ajar over winter to ensure a flow of air through the summerhouse and to help reduce condensation. On the other hand they are ideal from a security point of view and, in the case of the Blockley they help to keep manufacturing costs down and the price affordable for what we think is an excellent corner summerhouse. For these reasons we don't see the fixed windows as any great issue. It would probably be worth spending the extra time and effort creating a couple of extra covered vents on opposite walls to aid air circulation, particularly during the colder months though.
By and large, the quality of the materials throughout is of a decent standard for this size and type of summerhouse. The 12mm tongue and groove shiplap cladding should provide good weatherproofing while the 45x45mm framing is a higher specification that you'll find on some similarly priced models. There's some ambiguity on suppliers' websites as to whether the Blockley is provided with a wooden or solid sheet osb floor. Sometimes the description refers to solid sheet while the illustration shows wooden boards and we've also seen real wood specified with illustrations showing solid sheet. We checked with Forest Garden, the manufacturer, who confirmed to us that "This model of summerhouse...is supplied with 12mm T & G floor". That would seem to clear the matter up but if you're in any doubt a quick e-mail to the supplier before you place your order should confirm things. The roof of the Blockley is solid sheet osb - no doubt about that.
One issue we would raise in the context of the construction is the issue of the closure to the double doors. In its standard form, the doors are held by a bolt internally and by a small catch externally. We think you'll want to fit some extra security here, either in the form of a hasp and padlock or a small mortice or latch. You can take a look at what B&Q for example have to offer in the way of locks and catches here. This will involve a little extra work and we think it's a pity that an otherwise superb corner summerhouse doesn't offer a little more in the way of security as standard. It's not alone in that respect though.
As far as the flooring is concerned, our view is that real wood, if you can get it, is always preferable to solid sheet osb which tends to be more susceptible to damage and early deterioration due to attack by moisture. If your summerhouse does have a solid sheet floor you should ensure that it's located in a well drained area and that as far as possible the underside is protected from moisture. From the point of view of the roof, just make sure that the roofing felt is properly applied and if over the lifetime of the summerhouse leaks do appear, attend to them immediately. Many budget summerhouses use solid sheet for both roof and floor so it's not a huge disadvantage or issue. We just prefer real wood where possible.
The real bonus with the Blockley is that its timbers are pressure treated. Unlike the water based dip treatments which most budget summerhouses receive, the pressure treatment is designed to last up to 15 years and you won't need to apply a further preservative finish on taking delivery of your building. We'd still recommend you apply a decorative finish such as an exterior or garden woodstain though. Even pressure treated timber, if left undecorated, will take on a worn and weathered look when exposed to the elements and a decorative finish will, properly maintained, keep your summerhouse looking nice and fresh.
The Blockley is delivered flat packed, largely in pre formed panels and this makes assembly a reasonably straightforward exercise. You'll need some basic DIY tools: hammer, drill, pozidrive screwdriver, spirit level, tape measure and a sharp, Stanley type knife for the roofing felt. A stepladder won't go wrong either as the summerhouse is a reasonable height. And remember to take the time to pre-drill the screw holes during the assembly process to reduce the risk of splits in the wood. You can see a preview of the full assembly instructions here (opens in a new window) so you can see just exactly what's involved and what you'll need.
Taking it all into account, we think the Blockley offers a little extra over and above most of the other 7x7 and 8x8 corner summerhouses you're likely to find. There's the design for a start with the apex roof slightly different from the usual pent roof of a corner design. And there's the fact that with the exception of the solid sheet osb roof the timbers are pressure treated to guarantee a long life. If you're looking for an alternative in a similar price range, the Arlington, the Picton and the Larkspur are probably your best bets. We don't think the Arlington has the Blockley's style however - and the Larkspur lacks the pressure treatment. You should now be able to find a pressure treated option for the Picton though which would bring it into play if you're attracted to the style.
We think the Blockley or one of its other incarnations: the Bibury, Honeybourne or Highworth is a good buy - a stylish, pressure treated corner summerhouse, easy to assemble and constructed in quality materials. Maybe it's slightly let down by the solid sheet roof - and perhaps you will have to carry out a little extra work on door security - but we still think it's worth 4.5 stars. And one final point - do be sure to check our price comparison guide above to make sure you get a good deal. You might find some minor stylistic differences between the various suppliers but all are, essentially, selling the same summerhouse.