Looking at Buildings

Home | Types | Styles | Construction | Cities | Timeline | Glossary | Reference | Using the Site | About LAB

This is document 'The Medieval House', within the 'Building Types' section of the website. 
See a list of all the pages in this section, or look at the sitemap.

The Medieval House

The core of the medieval house was the GREAT HALL, a large heated room open to the roof. At first it had an open hearth with a smoke opening or LOUVREGlossary Term in the roof; from the 14th century fireplaces became common, although not universal. From early times a traditional plan was established: the entrance, often through a PORCH, led into a passage screened off from the ‘low’ end of the hall, providing access to service rooms and kitchen, the latter often kept separate to avoid danger of fire. The ‘high’ end of the hall was the place where the lord presided. From here there was access to the SOLARGlossary Term beyond, a more private upper room, often in a separately roofed wing; in the later Middle Ages the private rooms became more significant as communal dining in the hall declined. In larger establishments LODGINGS provided self-contained apartments for the lord’s followers, and a GATEHOUSE presented an opportunity for display as well as security. Other informally grouped outbuildings such as STABLES, DOVECOTE and BARN provided for the needs of the household. Simpler versions of the basic plan of hall, private rooms wing and service end were adopted for lesser establishments and for more constricted urban sites.