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BRIDENBAUGH ON THE GREAT HOUSING BOOM:

ENGLAND 1603-1640

Carl Bridenbaugh, Vexed and Troubled Englishmen: 1590-1642 (New York: Oxford University Press; 1968; pp. 81-82).

 

‘The improvements in shelter and appearance accompanying The Great Housing Boom had their counterparts in convenience and the amenities of living. The wider use of glazed windows, even with their small leaded panes, made for far better lighting of interiors, and the division of the medieval halls into rooms with fireplaces assured greater warmth and dryness during cold and wet weather for those who could afford the fuel. These changes and additions in turn had a beneficial effect on the health of the inmates of the house.

 

‘The vogue for cutting up the interiors of existing dwellings, inserting second and third floors with several rooms at each level, and constructing new wings to provide additional space stemmed in part from what has been described as “the filtering down” of a sense of privacy. Admittedly privacy was a relative matter, the degree of enjoyment being dependent upon the wealth of the householder and the size of the family. Heretofore the priceless opportunity of being able to withdraw from a group and to be alone was enjoyed only by the upper classes. Now members of large families that lived in small cottages at least had the satisfaction of separating the sleeping, cooking, and living activities in a house having two rooms on the ground floor and a sleeping garret overhead, and this was a marked advance over what their forefathers had known.

 

‘There can be no doubt that already this tangible development, this blessing of privacy, incomplete as it was, was affecting the psychology of the middling and lower sorts. And it is most important to realize that those Englishmen who attempted to transfer their civilization across the Atlantic Ocean employed both the concept of privacy and the prevailing house plans for implementing it in the first permanent houses they built in the New World.’

 

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