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Discovering Medieval Houses: A Shire Book
by Anthony Emery

Discovering Medieval Houses Discovering Medieval Houses adopts a radical new approach to the information on the development of houses between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries–from Norman to Tudor times–emphasizing how their design evolved in response to economic, financial, political, and social influences.

The houses examined in the book are mainly those of the crown, aristocracy, and gentry as they are more fully documented. Each chapter has many examples with photographs of the ideas examined in the book.

Chapters in the book are:

Building Records: Contracts, accounts, and licences to crenellate are important in tracing the building and its changes over the centuries. Even notebooks of medieval travellers can give historical information about houses.

Architectural developments: 500-1300: This chapter covers Anglo-Saxon residences, Anglo-Norman homes, and 13th century developments using houses that survive today as examples of each.

Architectural developments: 1300-1500: The medieval great hall, the core of the medieval house, gradually morphed into residences such as Penshurst place and Wingfield manor as its function changed. Roof structures were another building element that evolved. Houses expanded as functions changed, and courtyards were added.

Building materials: This chapter covers the use of stone, brick, timber, and other materials.

Contents and furnishings: During medieval times people openly displayed their wealth with mouldings, carvings, ironwork, windows, floors, wall paintings, furniture, and tapestries.
These reflected the social standing and lifestyle of the owners, but few survive today as changes were many over the centuries and products wore out.

Medieval houses as a response to political circumstances: 1250-1450: The war against Scotland influenced building in northern England as did the conquest of Wales along that border. Peace and political settlement also brought about building responses.

Medieval houses as a response to political circumstances: 1330-1500: The Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses had limited influence on buildings compared to the Welsh and Scottish conflicts.

Medieval houses as an expression of social status: The houses of the wealthy determined the taste and the standards that all strived to achieve during medieval times as well as making a social statement about the owners. They also give an indication of the skills of the builder and architect.

Comparative residences: This chapter deals with monastic and educational foundations.

Town houses: Space restrictions brought about the development of town houses, but few survive from medieval times. The earliest ones still standing are 12th century stone ones. Timber ones are mainly seen through foundations that survive. Cathedral closes are another source of town houses from this period in history. Communal buildings such as guildhalls and inns also provide information to the present day historian.

Yeoman and peasant houses: There is less surviving documentation to establish details of this quality of housing, much of which did not survive.

More than a thousand medieval houses have survived in England and Wales and a list of those that are open to the public is included in the book. There are numerous illustrations, mostly in colour, throughout the text. A further reading list is suggested.

Anthony Emery is a leading authority on the medieval houses of England and Wales. He is a founder Commissioner of English Heritage, former Chairman of Bath Archaeological Trust, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He has combined a business career with academic research.

Discovering Medieval Houses
ISBN: 978 0 7478 0655 4

176 pages, 140 coloured and 45 b/w photographs and illustrations
Published March 2007
Order from Shire Books or purchase wherever Shire books are sold.

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