This 64 page book is packed with images and information about the architecture of privacy. Quotations from literature are used to illustrate points and provide descriptions.
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Part I, Setting the Scene, deals with the home from its one room beginning with the hearth as the home's focus and moves on to the question of how we have defined our homes and their private spaces through the centuries, with privacy eventually becoming a status symbol. Problems of Evidence discusses ways we learn how people lived in the past and the home's symbolism as a place of security, safety and privacy. Key Ideas in Housing turns the spotlight on the relation of our choices to the form of our dwellings and how these ideas changed, based on the culture of the time. One of the key parts of the home, the hearth, is dealt with in A Hearth is a Home.
Part II, The House Described, looks at each part of the modern house and how it evolved: halls, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and reception rooms. How and why a hall has shrunk from the large ones of medieval times to the present small entry, how bedrooms were not always places just for sleeping, and the division of eating, entertaining and sleeping spaces are all ideas addressed in separate chapters. The chapters on bathrooms and lavatories as a cultural phenomenon are particularly intriguing. The section concludes with a description of how interiors change and states they "can be seen as a search to define . . .. privacy and community".
Part III, The Technology of Everyday Life, contains improvements in heating, water and light and how these changes transformed household activities. Part IV, The House Within, deals with the way our homes are decorated, our furniture, and our personal possessions and how they reflect comfort and status within a historical context. The book concludes with The Wider Picture: how houses developed in relation to attitudes towards privacy, community and social customs. Kitchen appliances, servants, and the gardens and landscaping are all part of the picture. The book admirably answers questions about the origins of our domestic arrangements in an architectural, historical and archaeological context.
Other books in the series include Life in a Medieval Castle, Life in a Medieval Abbey, and Life in Roman Britain.
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