The majority of medieval urban homes were timber-framed and had wattled walls. Stone structures were built for the exceedingly wealthy. The fundamental aspect of a medieval house was the hall, which was split by screens providing a corridor from the pantry and cooking area. The other main room was the buttery, where meals were kept in large crocks of earthenware.
There were three floors to a medieval home. The ground floor was used for storage and sometimes included a kitchen. There might be a dining room or it could be one big open space. Upstairs were bedrooms. Windows were often small and high up on the wall for security reasons. Doors were usually made of wood with iron nails or bolts to hold them together.
Medieval people lived closely knit social lives. They would have attended church on Sunday and been given a list of duties for that day including cleaning the house, doing the shopping, etc. They would have eaten their evening meal at around 5 p.m. and then spent time with family and friends until late into the night. During weekdays, they would have gotten up early to go to work and come back home late at night.
People took care of their homes seriously in the Middle Ages. Householders regularly maintained their buildings and equipment by checking doors and windows for damage, repairing as necessary, and cleaning out all the nooks and crannies.
Wood and stone were frequently utilized by medieval builders, and timber framing remained the primary practice in many regions of England throughout the Middle Ages. The Romans had used bricks as a building material, but they were not widely adopted elsewhere in Europe at that time.
The English word "mason" comes from the French maçon, which in turn comes from Latin māns, meaning "one who builds with a hammer." Masons worked mainly with mortar, but also used lime, sand, and gravel in their projects. They used tools such as axes, saws, mallets, chisels, and nails to construct buildings.
In France, Germany, and Italy, brick became popular after the 10th century, when local clay soils were better able to withstand the loads of tall buildings. Before this time, structures were usually built using wood or stone.
Clay is made up of silicon dioxide and aluminum oxide bonded together with oxygen atoms. When mixed with water, the silicon dioxide and aluminum oxide react to form hydroxides, while the oxygen binds to other molecules to create an alkali solution. The type of clays that can be used as building materials depend on the types of chemicals present in them.
Ordinary people's dwellings in the Middle Ages were often composed of wood. However, several were erected or rebuilt in stone or brick in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. By the late 17th century, even the poorest people were generally living in brick or stone dwellings. They were far superior to timber dwellings. The great fire of London in 1666 destroyed many dwellinghouses.
The average price of a house in England in 1600 was £5,000 (about $80,000 today). A few years later, it had increased to £10,000 ($160,000). At that time, a house in London was worth about six times more than one in Oxford.
House prices rose steadily during the 18th century, but there were frequent depressions, especially between 1753 and 1764 when the value of land fell by half. During these periods, house prices dropped sharply.
At the end of the 18th century, the average price of a house in England was £20,000 ($320,000). It continued to rise gradually until 1815 when it peaked at £40,000 ($640,000). From then on, it began to fall again...
By the middle of the 19th century, the average price of a house in England had fallen to £12,000 ($192,000). In recent years, it has risen again...
During the Neolithic period, Stone Age dwellings were rectangular and made of timber (4000 BC to 2500 BC). These houses are no longer standing, although the foundations may still be seen. Some buildings featured thatched roofs and walls made of wattle (woven wood) and daub (mud and straw).
During the Bronze Age, people started building with stone and metal. New types of houses appeared with thick walls and small windows. The floors were usually made of wood or clay.
The Iron Age brought more progress. People began building with iron instead of stone or bronze. The houses became bigger and had larger windows. The floors were now made of tiles or mud bricks.
During the Roman era, a few houses were built in Britain, but most people lived in tents or simple huts made of sticks and leaves. There were also a few houses built from stones and mortar, but they were only for the rich.
In the early years after the Romans left, there was a decline in construction, but it then started to increase again.
By the Middle Ages, towns and cities were starting to grow again after a long decline. This included the building of homes too. Houses were now being built with brick or stone instead of just wood. The rooms inside the house were also becoming smaller so that more rooms could be fit into each home.
Noblemen's residences were built of stone, as opposed to peasants' huts, which were composed of twigs, straw, and mud. The first examples of medieval cottages erected for aristocrats date back to the 13th century. They were made of wood and had steep roofs with wide eaves. In time, these simple dwellings gave way to larger ones with multiple stories and basements. By the late 15th century, wealthy citizens owned homes that were comparable in size to those of modern executives.
Inside the castles and manors of the nobility, you would find large halls with high ceilings, decorated with paintings and statues. These were used for entertaining guests. Private chambers contained beds with fine linen sheets and velvet coverlets, along with chests for clothes. Bathrooms had marble sinks, toilets, and showers. Kitchen rooms were furnished with oak tables and chairs for eating meals, and servants would have had their quarters on the upper floors or in separate buildings nearby.
The middle class lived in small villages or town centers near fertile land. Their homes might be made of brick or stone, but most were simply boxes without heat, water, or sanitation. Most middle-class people worked the land or went to market for work, so they had little time or money to spend on building improvements. But sometimes churches or public buildings would be erected by charitable organizations; these often include the first indoor bathrooms available to many common people.