The ManorPosted: June 11, 2012
How the Medieval Manor came into being.
Medieval manors were first introduced by King William the Conqueror in the eleventh century AD when he brought Feudalism to England. Feudalism was a social system based on someone’s promise to serve a noble or person of higher social standing all their life in exchange for protection and a fief (gift of land). Feudalism had a lot to do with Manor houses. Serfs, as well as other servants of the Lord of the Manor, would have to work on the land under the feudal system.
As king, one of the first things that William did was take land belonging to the English and give it to Norman Knights and superior nobles and lords. This land that was given to them was later called Manor houses, but not before a long list of other events and developments took place.
What was the Saxon Hall?
Before the Manor has been officially designed and built it was called the Saxon Hall. This was a simple building used for eating, sleeping, business meetings and community gatherings. The Saxon Hall was a small one to two story building either a square, rectangular or circular shape. There was a limited amount of space in the Saxon Hall. The Lord and his family would sleep on a raised platform in beds while servants would sleep on mats on the ground around an open fire. The Saxon Hall also consisted on a small table and chairs at one end of the room used for eating meals.
Stages and Developments of the Medieval Manor.
The Manor first came to be in the eleventh century AD but was further developed over its years of existence.
In the thirteenth century, the Saxon Hall was further established. Two additional rooms were added to it; a kitchen and a bedroom. It was built of timber, brisk and stone, making it strong and withstanding. It also consisted of numerous defences and protections like a moat, making access only possible by a drawbridge.
Many more rooms and developments appeared during the fourteenth century. These included food storage areas and guest rooms. By this stage, the Saxon Hall was quickly turning into what it soon become, the Manor.
Finally, in the fifteenth century, the Manor was complete. Protections were lowered as society became more stable and safe. For example; a moats drawbridge was transformed into a fixed bridge allowing people to enter without hassle. The Manor itself was built around a central courtyard and the whole complex included many buildings, family areas and a chapel.
What was the purpose of the Manor?
The early manor was used as a small home and just a place to live in but as it became more and more developed as the centuries passed, the Manor was used to display noble’s wealth and to impress other people with what they had. It also provided the Lord of the Manor with income and money from the serfs and vassals working on the land.
Not all Manors in Medieval times belonged to Lords and Nobles. Seventeen percent of Manors were owned by the King, and a quarter of all Manors belonged to Bishops and monasteries. These certain Manor houses were called Ecclesiastical Manors. These were larger than a Lord’s Manor and were considered to be more important.
1) ‘History on the net Group’ (2000) “History on the Net” http://historyonthenet.com/Medieval_Life/bibliography.htm
2) Middle Ages, Medieval Manors, http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/medieval-manors.htm
3) New York Times Company (2012) About.com, http://historymedren.about.com/od/mterms/g/manor.htm
4)Ocatavia Randolph, OR (1996) ‘Early English Architecture’ http://www.octavia.net/anglosaxon/earlyEnglishArchitecture.htm
5)David Ross and British Express, DR (1951) ‘Britian Express’ http://www.britainexpress.com/architecture/medieval-manors.htm
By Kate Rumble 8C