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Bricks and Construction Materials during the Reign of Edward V (1483)

Despite his brief reign, the period of Edward V saw some intriguing developments in the field of construction and architecture. Although the King's reign was short-lived, it nonetheless fell within a period of increasing use of bricks in construction in England.

Population and Living Conditions

Although specific records from 1483 are not readily available, it is estimated that the population of England at the time was around 3 million.

During Edward V's reign, England was predominantly rural. The majority of the population was spread across small villages and farms, with the largest concentration of people found in London, which was the commercial and political heart of the nation. Life revolved around work and religion, with the average person working on farms or in manual labor jobs. Despite the harsh living conditions, there was a strong sense of community within these villages.

The size of the population was largely constrained by the available food supply. The rural population lived off the land, growing their own food and raising livestock. The urban population, on the other hand, relied on trade and the buying and selling of goods for sustenance.

The largest concentrations of population outside of London were in the major trading cities of Norwich and York. These cities played vital roles in the economy of the nation, with Norwich famous for its wool and cloth industry, and York as a major ecclesiastical and trade hub.

Common Construction Techniques and Materials

During Edward V's reign, the primary construction materials were still largely wood and wattle and daub. However, the late 15th century saw a gradual shift towards the increased use of bricks. In areas rich in clay, bricks began to supplement or replace the traditional wooden structure, especially in the construction of manor houses and castles.

The dwellings during the reign of Edward V varied greatly, primarily based on wealth and social status. The majority of the population lived in cottages made from wattle and daub. These were made by weaving a network of wooden strips called wattle, and then daubing them with a mixture of clay, sand, animal dung, and straw. The roofs were usually thatched with straw or reeds. A typical cottage would have a single room, with a hearth for cooking and warmth.

More affluent citizens, such as the merchants and the nobility, lived in more substantial homes. These houses often included multiple rooms, and used a combination of wattle and daub and timber framing. Increasingly, brick and stone were becoming materials of choice, particularly for manor houses and castles.

The transition from temporary materials like wattle and daub to more permanent materials such as bricks marked a significant turning point in construction history. The widespread use of bricks began to take off in earnest during Edward V's reign, offering better durability and protection against elements.

Notable Buildings from the Era

One of the most significant constructions during Edward V's reign was the Tower of London's White Tower. It utilized Kentish ragstone for its main structure and Caen stone from Normandy for its corners and details, demonstrating a shift towards the use of more durable and permanent materials.

The period saw a shift in building techniques and the increased use of stone and bricks, which would pave the way for the architectural advances in the Tudor period that followed.

Societal Impact from a Housing Perspective

The increased use of bricks during this period signified a growing interest in permanence and durability in construction. Brick houses became a symbol of wealth and status, highlighting a societal shift towards material showmanship. This transition played a pivotal role in setting the stage for the architectural flourishes of the Tudor period that would follow.