Lectures
Lectures are currently held on Zoom at 2pm normally on the last Wednesday of each month. They last for 1 - 1½ hours including a question and answer session at the end.
The Development of the English Manor House, including West Country examples
Dr David Bostwick      Wed 22nd February 2012
  ‘Changing Rooms’ was the sub-title of Dr David Bostwick’s February lecture on the Development of the English Manor House. The basic medieval model had a linear foundation, a rectangular hall with the servants’ quarters attached to one end and family space at the other. The front door was always at the right of the hall, next to the kitchens; later architects shuffled this feature for the sake of symmetry. The Elizabethans rotated the hall through ninety degrees, giving more space on either side for a variety of linked rooms, the chaos in the kitchen still distant from the family living quarters. Medieval manor houses had their odorous downside, open fires in the centre of the hall competing with the lingering smells of cooking and the wafts of basic sanitation. An outdoor life offered fresher air. Even the tapestries, which gave colour to your walls and impressed your friends, tended to retain smells and gradually gave way to wooden panelling. The Elizabethans used glass to provide a barrier to the cold winds, built chimneys to channel the smoke outside and increasingly sealed their ceilings with decorated plasterwork to stop the draught driven drizzle of dust from floors above.
Privacy and earthly vanity were often in competition. The parlour and the first floor solar, for family meals and individual reflection, sometimes sat uneasily with the desire to impress one’s friends by introducing minstrels’ galleries, decorated screens, sculpted plaster, heraldic crests, large family portraits and even more impressive ‘private’ chambers. Manor houses filled the gap left by Reformation churches by providing work for stained glass window craftsmen.
Some houses exhibit later structural additions, with varying degrees of harmony. During the Georgian period many were pulled down, rather than adapted and refined. For the purist there is something to be said for a genteel poverty which enabled the owner to maintain the existing fabric but denied the excesses of inappropriate modernization.