The History of the Hampshire House, Medieval to Tudor
Prior to the 21st century, domestic house architecture is mainly associated with the monarch of the time.
However the links between the two are often unsubstantiated, and it cannot be certain that every home built during a particular reign will fit into the style of architecture associated with it.
Most periods merge into one another, and it is impossible to state a year when one period ends and the next begins.
Up to the 18th century houses were built by master craftsmen, and they would follow the fashion of the day.
The introduction of the builder’s copy books in the 18th century encouraged an element of standardisation in domestic house building.
Very little domestic construction survives pre 1509 and it is unlikely that many properties will come onto the market, but those that do can be split into four categories:
- Cob construction
- Cruck construction
- Stone houses
- Timber-framed construction.
The medieval hall house from Boarhunt in Hampshire has been tentatively dated to the late 14th century on the basis of comparison with similar Hampshire houses that have been dendro-dated (dated by tree-ring analysis) and the distinctive seesaw marks that occur on all the timbers. When the house was rescued in 1971, in an advanced state of decay, it consisted of a timber-framed structure containing two rooms: a two bay cruck hall, and a room – possibly a service room – under the hipped end. It had brick walls, of several different dates, and a thatched roof. The Hall house from Boarhunt and many other examples can be seen at the Weald & Downland open air museum.
Medieval hall house from Boarhunt, Hampshire
Apart from Stately Homes, Churches and Castles, the majority of domestic property used thatch as a roofing material, and this was prone to catching fire.
The timber built London Bridge was destroyed by fire in 1212, and probably the majority of medieval property went the same way.
Tudor jettied terrace, Hursley, Hampshire.
Henry VIII (1509-1547) started one of England’s great rebuilding periods with the introduction of many brick houses replacing timber frame ones.
Possibly the most famous large house to be built during this period was Hampton Court. Bricks were expensive and only used on grand dwellings, the average village house would still be a timber frame or rough stone construction, sometimes using brick infilling between the timber frames.
The population of England was about four million, with most of those living in rural areas.
The geology map gives you a good indication as to why certain materials became predominant. Transport was still not developed so craftsmen had to use the local materials.
In Tudor times towns such as York, Norwich and Bristol had populations of around 20,000, with London reaching 100,000 when Mary Tudor died in 1558. Southampton had a population of 4,200 in 1596.
Henry VIII built Hurst Castle in 1544 to defend the western end of the Solent from possible invasion by the French. King Charles I was imprisonment here until his execution in 1649, he used to take his exercise walking along the spit.
During this period the urban dwelling was transformed by greater attention to heating and privacy. Fireplaces and chimney stacks replaced open hearths, and this not only reduced the risk of fire, but proved a more efficient way of keeping the heat in the house. The one room house gave way to the two up two down which we all know still exists in terraced houses today.
Towards the end of the 16th century, more new town houses were built of brick or stone with either slate or tiled roofs. The reign of Queen Elizabeth is an architectural period of its own, and often relates to large country houses built with a more symmetrical design, with many of the features having a Flemish influence.
17th Century Cottage, Stockbridge, Hampshire.