Many features shown in the illustration are typical of mediaeval halls. The screenedoff space, called the " screens," at the end of the hall, formed a passage which led from the front to the back court. There were usually two entrances to it from the hall. The gallery built over it was the minstrels' gallery. Of the two doors at the far side of the screens, one led to the buttery, the other to the pantry. Between them was a passage which led to the kitchen beyond. The hall usually had an open timber roof and was heated from a central hearth. It was entered from both sides at the lower, kitchen end, and' was lighted mainly by side windows. The upper end, opposite to the minstrels' gallery, was raised to form a dais for the high table and stretched across the hall. Lengthwise down the sides of the hall there were tables for the retainers. Notice that the hall is no longer divided into nave and aisles as at Oakham (p. 10).
The plan of fortified manors changed little in essentials throughout mediaeval times.
The domestic centre of the manor continued to be the hall. This went the whole height of the building and had a wing of two storeys at each end, the solar being invariably placed at the dais end. But although the general planning remained the same, details, such as windows, ornamentation, etc. changed in character with the different styles of Gothic which developed in church architecture. Compare the window (Decorated style) at Penshurst with those at Oakham (p.10).
The Hall, Penshurst Place, Kent
This fourteenth century hall retains its original open timber roof, through louvers in which the smoke escaped, and the original tables of oak.
Windows at first sight are so much like church windows as to be often mistaken for them, but they are readily distinguished by a recess in the sill with a seat on each side. The transom appeared earlier in domestic than in church buildings. Compare this window with those on pages 10 and 14. It was not unusual to glaze only the upper lights of large windows, the lower parts being fitted with shutters, by which air was excluded or admitted at pleasure.
During the fourteenth century casements were transferred by the owner as he changed his residence. During this century also the custom grew of projecting a window outwards so as to form within a bay or recess in which was placed the cupboard of plate. This gradually increased in size and importance until it became in Tudor times a very handsome bay-window, without and within.
(Lef) Window In The Hall, Meare Somersetshire. A fourteenth century window. (Right) Bay Window, Cowdray Castle, Sussex
Fire-place, Boothby Panel Lincolnshire.—(Turner)
Bodiam Castle, Sussex.
This castle was built in the fourteenth century by a veteran of French wars and we can understand how it must have delighted the eyes of an old soldier.
Early in the thirteenth century castles as a means of defence began to diminish in importance. A great improvement in the social order, an increase in the power of the central government at the expense of the feudal nobles, and the recognition that big issues were best settled by armies fighting in the open : all tended to diminish the usefulness of castles. They continued to be erected, however, even in districts where the necessity for them had long disappeared, as in Sussex (Bodiam, fourteenth century) and in Lincolnshire (Tattershall Castle, fifteenth century) ; and many buildings not primarily designed for defence, continued to incorporate, at least in their outward form, military features. Gatehouse, battlements, drawbridges and moats were still constructed. But the windows ceased to be mere slits in the wall, and the embattled form became rather a means of ornamentation, often used where there was no structural need for it.