Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Manor houses, castles and churches

click photo to enlarge
It's not widely appreciated that the number of different building types was relatively few before the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Houses of various sizes, churches of various kinds, castles, windmills, watermills, inns, almshouses, guildhalls, schools, universities and colleges, barns: once you've run through that list there's not much else to add to the buildings of the period before 1700. The factories, railway stations, offices, power stations, bus depots, garages, law courts, police stations, and the multiplicity of other specialised buildings we see around us are largely a product of the last three hundred years, and particularly the last one hundred and fifty.

I was reflecting on this the other day when I visited South Kyme. At the edge of the village is a trio of buildings that one sees in close proximity in many settlements across Britain - the castle, the church and the manor house. In those three buildings was vested much of the local power and influence of pre-industrial society. The lord of the manor not only owned land and organised agriculture and civil society, he also dispensed justice through the manorial court. The castle was a power base that kept order in the locality, defended the interests of the rich nobleman who lived there, and represented and supported the power of the monarch. The church (in South Kyme, originally a priory) also had legal powers and large land holdings, and its clergy were not only educated perople but a powerful presence in the community.

I have described what is known about Kyme Tower here. On my recent visit it was The Manor that drew my attention. It is a house that dates from the early 1700s and is built on the double range plan. The front range has a symmetrical ashlar facade with a plain tile roof. A nineteenth century porch conceals the original door. The back range, interestingly, is built of brick rather than stone, has a pantile roof, and what appears to be a twentieth century bay at ground and first floor level. Is this the only manor house to be built on this site? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that it replaced an earlier building.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 17mm (34mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On