15th Century Exterior

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Timber- framed Assembly

A timber-framed house is a building whose timbers are joined together to form an open rigid frame that supports the roof. Before any building could begin, all the joints for a timber-framed building had to be cut and fitted.  When assembling these joints the carpenters treated the building as a series of frames (like a picture frame).  There was a floor frame, a wall frame, a cross frame and a roof frame.  All these frames had to be carefully fitted together flat on the ground before the building could be put up.  When the building had to be put up all these frames were joined together like the sides of a box.  This formed the skeleton of the building which was then covered or infilled to make the walls, roof and floor.

Unglazed windows

The windows would have been constructed as part of the wall and were small in order to keep out the weather.  Before about 1580, few houses had glass in their windows because of the expense. The windows were open to the elements; wooden shutters were used to keep out the weather and for security.  The shutters were usually fixed inside the building and were sliding (vertically or horizontally) rather than hinged.

Inside the window opening were vertical pieces of timber, called mullions which fitted into the surrounding frame.  To let in daylight but to keep out the cold and the wet, windows were hung with oil cloth, linen covered with plant oils, such as linseed, which would let the light in but keep the draughts out. 

Ventilation roof

The roof is built on A-shaped roof trusses.  The roof was either tiled or most probably thatched, a much cheaper material.  Flat roofing tiles, known as plain tiles, were being made in England in the 15th century.  The tiles were hung with oak pegs and bedded in lime and hair mortar so that they did not slip.

Heating, was originally by an open hearth in the middle of the central bay, with smoke being contained by interior partitions.  The original roof rafters suggest that there was also a small ventilation roof which was constructed at a slightly higher level to allow the smoke to escape. 

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