Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Medieval Peasant Houses

I came across by chance an interesting illustrated article from Current Archaeology about ‘Peasant Houses in Midland England’ which was published in 2013. It can be seen here

It is based in part on a survey of surviving crick construction houses in some of the central southern Midland counties. This appears to clearly demonstrate that typical late medieval peasant houses were much more substantial than has been commonly thought and have been perfectly able to survive into the present day.

The article also cites the work of Professor Christopher Dyer from Birmingham whose Ford Lectures on later medieval living standards zi attended in Oxford some years ago. He again stresses that later medieval living conditions were better than they are so often presented and that the economy of those centuries had much more vibrancy than is often imagined today.

The article has at its end a picture of a late medieval peasant house in the Buckinghamshire village of Long Crendon. The house, clearly in some decay, was photographed in 1954 yet, despite its age and, in estate agent language, potential, was  subsequently demolished. A sad ending for the building and village, and to the article. A reminder of how recently the agencies of destruction could wreak havoc with the heritage of the country.

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