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Paper 105-b: The Black Death and Building: A Hampshire Case Study. Richard Haddlesey The University of Winchester. Background. researching late medieval timber frame buildings in Hampshire (1200-1530) concerned with structural techniques and their chrono-typologies
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The University of Winchester
1348-50 in England
the population was cut by up to 50%
Led to a rising middling class driven by a smaller workforce and increased wages
Small, poorly built houses gave way to better built, larger ones that mimicked those of the Lords
Space was are rare commodity pre Black Death and towns were crowded and filthy with retail units on split levels
33 34 35
Keene’s detailed survey of Medieval Winchester in 1985 suggested the Pentice was built in one campaign
James & Roberts however, used dendrochronology to question this theory in 2000
By the mid-14th century nomenclature had changed to ‘sub penticio’, ‘subtus le Pentis’ inferring by this time the Pentice was a colonnaded walkway
Dendrochronology suggests otherwise
Only the central bays remain and is presently fronted by a 15thC gabled frontage
It lays parallel to the street front rather than at right angles
35 High Street is of a Wealden style and dates to 1339
They exist predominantly in the Weald (east Sussex and west Kent) (Harris 1978, 65)
Because it was a Wealden House built in 1339, it is safe to assume that there would not have been a covered walkway obscuring it
James & Roberts 2000, 189
Harris 1978, 66
James & Roberts 2000, 198
Immediately following the Black Death, The Bishop of Winchester commissioned the building of a Collegiate Chantry in Wiltshire to make provision for his soul
It seems likely that such a building was in direct response to the sheer loss of life he would have witnessed during that time. Platt suggests, the almost military austerity of the church is due to the lack of available tradesmen (Platt 1996, 138-9)
We shall now take a look at Hampshire as a whole
James (2001) suggests “the increase in rural wages as a result of labour shortages following the Black Death, seems to have brought a wave of rural house building in more substantial materials”
What evidence do we have for this?
Baillie suggests the “Black Death has a clear environmental context” (Baillie 2006, 38-9)
He sees a clear ‘slump’ in tree-ring patterns from AD 1333 to 1360 with a sharp rise toward the end of the century from 1380 onwards (ibid)
He also see’s a change in character in the timbers after the mid-fourteenth century. Whereas all the timbers felled in the phases up to 1370 had been long lived, those felled in the early to mid 15thc were wide ringed and fast grown (ibid)
This is reflected well in the Hampshire data as a hiatus on dated buildings occurs between 1347 and 1359 followed by a sharp rise in dated buildings from 1388 onwards
We know church architecture moves from the elaborate decorated to the simpler perpendicular
We see a desire for less cramped and cleaner living in art and iconography (Lindley 1996, 126)
With a gap of nearly two generations, does the carpentry change?
Cecil Hewett claims the scarf joint is the most useful joint when trying to assign a date to a building (Hewett 1962, 240)
Scarfs can be grouped into 3 main types of development in Hampshire
Type 1 - splayed on the left (1249-1360)
Type 2 - halved in the centre (1400-1500)
Type 3 - mortised scarf on the right (1301-1528)
The main characteristics of the development of the scarf joint are that it seems to regress in complexity
Is this reverse of complexity a result of a loss of skilled workers?