Ten favourite facts about sheds

Ten favourite facts about sheds

You love your garden shed, but how much do you really know about this humble garden shelter? Here are some quirky shed facts that you may not know...

A shady past

Waltons summerhouse with overhanging veranda
Choose a model with an overhang for extra shade
Image: 6 x 8 Premium Sussex Summerhouse from Waltons

Today everyone understands what a shed is, but did you know that the word itself was originally Germanic or Anglo-Saxon?

The early German word for shade, shadow or darkness was skadwo, which was translated into Old English as, sceadu. The word first shows up in its current incarnation in 1481, spelled shadde, shad or shedde.

So you think you’re a shed devotee?

Golden amulet of the god 'Shed'
'Shed' was a God who appeared on amulets, as well as large monuments or stelae
Image: Einsamer Schütze, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Long before our medieval forefathers first called a shed a shed, ‘Shed’ was the name of an ancient Egyptian deity. A favourite God of the common people, Shed was worshipped in the home rather than at temples or in official ceremonies. We’d like to think Shed was worshipped in the shed – but we don’t know for sure if that’s true!

Commonly known as ‘the Savior’, Shed was a protective god called upon by those in need who wished to be sheltered from danger, sickness or misfortune.

Today many sheddies still rely on their sheds for shelter, although rarely from plagues and pestilence.

A shed full of satisfaction

Man painting model boat in shed workshop
Of course a shed can make you happy
Image: Daisy Daisy/Shutterstock

According to Waltons' Great British Shed Survey 2016, 96.5% of you said that your shed makes you happy.

And of more than 1,600 respondents, almost half said they’d rather spend time in the shed than do almost anything in the house, with 28% saying they also preferred it to the pub.

A sheddy sanctuary

Metal sign saying 'Keep out' on wooden shed
Sheds can be great for some alone time
Image: iofoto/Shutterstock

For many, sheds make the perfect hideaway – 22% of you admitted using your shed to escape from partners or kids. 25% would even consider using their sheds for hiding secrets like booze, junk food, cigarettes, or receipts from a shopping spree.

Some sheddies even admitted to using their sheds to conceal an affair – a place to hide love letters or make secret phone calls. And 60% of the people we surveyed said they would rather be in their shed than visiting their in-laws.

Sheddies have gone to great lengths to make their outside boltholes more comfortable, with one in ten having heating, while others boast a TV or a sofa. 2% of UK sheds even contain a hot tub.

Sheds inspire art

Art studio inside Waltons insulated garden room with easel and canvas
A blank space to unleash your creativity
Image: 2 x 3m DIY Insulated Garden Room from Waltons

Sheds have been the source of inspiration for many writers including Roald Dahl and John Steinbeck who both wrote in theirs. In recent years, the humble wooden shelter has inspired tongue-in-cheek titles like ‘The Ladybird Book of the Shed’ and the mock-erotic ‘Fifty Sheds of Grey’.

New shed guide books like ‘101 Things to do in a Shed’ or ‘The Joy of Sheds’ prove our fascination with garden buildings is a continuing trend. It extends to music too – we’re thinking of Nick Drake’s melancholic yet whimsical Man in a Shed. In the jazz world, ‘woodshedding’ is a term for the creative process of locking oneself away to get to grips with music and the songwriting process.

And in the art world, British artist Cornelia Parker created her 1991 work ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View’, by blowing up a shed and its contents before hanging the debris to replicate the moment of explosion. We think a true shed connoisseur would never be able to sacrifice their beloved bolt-hole, even for art!

World wide shed

Group of bikes being stored vertically in metal shed
The internet is a great resource for shed organisation tips
Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

From the world of art to the world of computers, sheddies are a very high-tech bunch.

Online, there are approximately 11,600,000 web pages containing the phrase 'garden shed' – including the Waltons blog, of course. Each month in the UK around 74,000 people search the internet using the term 'garden sheds'. The results reveal a plethora of information – everything from decorating your shed, to genius tips for organising your shed or transforming it into a man-cave, gym, art studio or even a kids’ playroom.

Warning: Radioactive shed

Black radioactive spray painted sign on wooden panel
There are some things you should never find in a shed
Image: DimaSid/Shutterstock

American boy scout, David Hahn famously attempted to build a nuclear breeder reactor in his mother’s garden shed – all in the name of winning his Atomic Energy badge.

Hahn’s plan was discovered by accident when he was stopped by police for another matter. It took ten months for teams to complete the cleanup resulting from David’s foray into nuclear physics.

While there have been no reports of nuclear reactors in British back gardens, a top ten of unexpected items found in UK sheds includes a human skeleton, a camel’s head, a stuffed alligator, and a tombstone.

How many people can you fit in a shed?

Group of people inside wooden Waltons shed
Some questions just have to be asked - and answered
Image: Waltons

We’re sure that at some point all sheddies have asked themselves how many people it’s possible to fit into a garden shed.

Well here at Waltons, we like to do the hard work for you. To that end, we went out one lunchtime to see just how many people we could get into a shed.

The answer? You can fit ten people into a 6x4 foot shed. Think you can do better?

I think we’re gonna need a bigger shed

Handwritten letter on aged paper
The Post Office Home Depot cleared thousands of letters during World War One
Image: Shutterstock

The world’s biggest shed, or at least the biggest up to that point, was built in Regent’s Park during World War I as a sorting office for mail between the UK and troops at the front.

The Home Depot was built in December 1914 and covered five acres, with 2,500 employees inside. At its peak this vast shed processed 12 million letters and 1 million parcels each week.

A shed for all seasons

Sheep shearing poster in shed
How much time do you spend in your shed?
Image: John Gayler on Flickr

We know sheddies love their sheds, but we were amazed when our survey found that some 8% of sheddies love their sheds so much that they spend approximately three weeks out of every year pottering in theirs!

The average shed occupation time is ten days a year, but that’s still equivalent to two working weeks.

Which is your favourite quirky shed fact? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Lead image: aurelie le moigne/Shutterstock

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