Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Homes, castles and inviolacy

click photo to enlarge
"An Englishman's home is his castle."
Old saying

There can be little doubt that the saying quoted above was known to whoever it was that, during the nineteenth century, built Tower House in Spalding, Lincolnshire. This relatively modest building, on Tower Lane near the River Welland, is a castle in miniature. Or rather a building with a selection of debased features typical of castles of the medieval and later periods.

If we were to look at it from an architectural viewpoint, rather than as the charming folly that it is, we'd have to question the mixture of medieval trappings. We have battlements, turrets, mock machicolations and semi-circular headed windows (Romanesque?). On the riverward side is a semi-circular window, a crow-step gable, buttressing and a pinnacle. Even the wooden gates into the enclosed area are embattled. The building and the perimeter wall at the back of the house, is constructed in brick laid, appropriately enough, in English bond (alternating rows of headers and strethers).

And yet, despite its peculiarities, the house does seem to be an example of the famous quotation made real. Where does that idea come from, the suggestion that you can do as you wish in your own abode, that home is somewhere inviolate, a place where the state cannot intrude? It seems to have become a popular belief in the sixteenth century when the headmaster of the Merchants Taylor's School in London declared of the householder that, "He is the appointer of his owne circumstance, and his home is his castle." The principle gained wider acceptance through Sir Edward Coke's, "The Institutes of the Laws of England" (1628), a book that said, ""For a man's house is his castle, and each man's home is his safest refuge."

In fact it has never been the case that the state cannot intrude into a home where significant illegality takes place, and today more organisations have rights of entry than ever before. A sham castle like the one above wouldn't be much of a deterrent to such people though some real castles, suitably defended, might be!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 17mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off