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Beyond the defensible threshold: the house-building culture of Berwick-upon-Tweed and the East March, 1550-1603.

KENT, CATHERINE,LAURA (2016) Beyond the defensible threshold: the house-building culture of Berwick-upon-Tweed and the East March, 1550-1603. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The thesis questions the assumption that housebuilding in England’s far north was limited by a need for defensibility until after the Union of the English and Scottish Crowns in 1603. Only a few houses survive to provide evidence but the concept of a ‘house-building culture’ enables an interdisciplinary approach to the subject, using historical, architectural and archaeological evidence originating in the culture within which houses were conceived, constructed and altered.
A proposed model for the house-building culture also structures the thesis. Chapters 3-6 examine some individual elements. The character of pre-existing houses suggests what builders might have expected from a house, while alterations indicate a desire for more rooms with specific functions, wider stairs and new chimneys, hallmarks of Hoskins’ ‘Great Rebuilding’. Changing tenure encouraged higher-quality housebuilding, and urban plots provide evidence of Johnson’s ‘closure’. The ‘builders’ who instigated particular house-building or alteration projects, and their motives for building, are examined, as are the craftsmen and artisans and their materials, and finally the communication between builders and craftsmen within the construction process.
Chapters 7 and 8 provide six ‘building biographies’ which show this house-building culture at work in various situations. They demonstrate how the culture can form a useful lens with which to view houses which no longer exist or about which little is known, as well as to expand understanding of those apparently better understood. Overall, the study indicates that Berwick and the East March were involved in national trends such as ‘rebuilding’ or ‘closure’, albeit in a locally-defined way. Defence was by no means its primary driver or defining characteristic, although the presence of a previously unrecognised non-domestic type of military ‘stronghouse’ is suggested.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Sixteenth century, early modern, interdisciplinary, building biography, Northumberland, Berwick, bastle, stronghouse
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Jun 2016 14:11

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