Types of Dwellings
The reign of James II, from 1685 to 1688, marked a time of transition in England's architectural and construction landscape. Despite this, for most of the population, dwelling styles remained unchanged. Rural inhabitants primarily lived in thatched cottages, built from local materials. These homes typically featured a timber frame with walls made of wattle and daub or cob. The urban middle classes, on the other hand, often resided in houses of two or more storeys, comprising timber frames and brick or plaster walls. In contrast, the wealthy and the nobility lived in larger homes or manor houses, which started to show influence from the European baroque style.
Average Dwelling and Daily Life
Despite the architectural advancements of the time, the average person still lived in modest, simple homes. Their daily life was shaped largely by their occupation, with agricultural workers rising with the sun to tend to their fields and livestock, and urban workers, such as craftsmen or traders, following the rhythms of their particular trades. The home often served as the center of family and social life, with meals prepared and shared in common spaces.
Significant Building Achievements
During the reign of James II, the introduction of the baroque style brought with it some architectural feats. Stately homes, churches, and civic buildings were constructed in this style, characterized by grand, ornate designs, bold shapes, and lavish decorations. However, these architectural marvels were usually the reserve of the wealthy, as they required significant resources to construct.
Population and Its Influence on Society
England's population in the late 17th century was around 5 million, with more people starting to live in towns and cities. This urbanization trend influenced society significantly, leading to a growing middle class and shifts in economic activity towards trade and industry. As a result, there was an increased demand for durable, fire-resistant building materials, such as bricks and tiles, which were used extensively in urban construction.
Social Changes and Influence on Building Materials
As society changed, so did the available building materials. The growing urban population and increasing wealth led to a rise in demand for durable and high-quality building materials. Bricks became more popular, particularly in the cities, where the risk of fire made timber a less desirable building material. Furthermore, advancements in transport, such as better roads and canals, allowed for more efficient movement of construction materials, enabling more ambitious building projects.