Home Care > History of the English Home

We’ve all heard the old saying that ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’, but how exactly has this castle changed over time? Team buzzvault has put together a very brief history of the English home. Without our homes, houses, hovels and shacks, we wouldn’t have home insurance – which is our bread and butter here at buzzvault!

 The Celts (500 BC – AD 43)

celtic roundhouse

Celtic homes were circular in shape, and their single room would be the dwelling for entire families and their most prized cattle. The walls of the roundhouse were made of wattle, a woven lattice of wooden strips, which was then coated in a mixture of clay and animal dung (known as ‘daub’). There were no windows, but these houses did feature a hole in the ceiling which allowed for the clearing of smoke.

 The Romans (AD 43 – 450)

roman home

Though the Romans are associated with lavish and high quality Villas, roughly only 1% of their population were wealthy enough to afford such a home. Indeed, the vast majority of the Romans in England lived in Celt-like roundhouses.

               The Romans were great builders, and remnants of their architecture has lasted until this day. Their homes had a front door, which normally led to a courtyard that was surrounded by various rooms. The walls were constructed of brick or stone, and the roofs were tiled. Like the Celts, Roman roofs had a hole which was used for clearing smoke and collecting rainwater in a cistern.

 Anglo Saxons (450 – 793) and Vikings (793 – 1066)

anglo saxon home

After the Romans returned home to defend their failing Empire, a mass migration from Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands led to the beginning of the Anglo Saxon era. The Saxons cared little for Roman architecture; they built single room houses of wood, with stone used for only the most important of buildings, such as churches. These houses were built facing the sun, as a means of combating the harsh English weather. Viking homes were very similar, but a bit lengthier. These long houses added horizontal slits to the wooden walls that acted as windows.

 The Normans (1066 – 1485)

norman home castle

The Normans were a paranoid bunch, with homes that were specifically designed to protect their newly acquired land. The Normans were the first to introduce castles to England, and these large stony keeps were vital in their reign. These castles featured lofty and strategic platforms, which allowed for arrows to rain down on approaching enemies. Surrounding moats and ditches further complicated matters, and as if that wasn’t enough for protection, the entrance to these castles required the use of a staircase that could be removed by the inhabitant in the event of an attack!

Norman peasants, on the other hand, had very little protection. They lived in a single room wooden home, made of wattle and daub.

The Tudors (1485 – 1714)

tudor home

 The Tudor house is easily recognisable, and an icon of English architecture. These homes were half-timbered, with wooden frames interspersed by the wattle and daub walls. These walls were often painted using limewash, and the wooden frames were coated in black tar to prevent rotting. Due to this, the Tudor house has a black and white aesthetic that is unmistakable.

Generally, Tudor windows were made of small diamond-shaped pieces of glass, which were fixed together with lead strips. Peasants, however, had to make do with simple shutters due to the expense of glass.


Georgians (1714 – 1837)

georgian home

Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, Parliament passed an act declaring that all new houses must be built of fire resistant materials. This act is essential in characterising the Georgian home, which is constructed of heavy bricks and features a square, symmetrical shape. There are chimneys on either side of the house, and minimal roof overhang.

As a means of funding war costs, this era also featured a heavy tax on windows. This led to windows being seen as a sign of wealth, and those with less money had to resort to covering their windows with bricks.

Victorians (1837 – 1901)

victorian homes

Victorian era architecture is heavily influenced by the industrial revolution, and particularly the introduction of the railway. Due to the increasing ease of transport, the style of the home would no longer be determined by the locality of the materials. This led to what we now consider the ‘Victorian’ home.

These houses were normally made of brick due to their mass production, and these bricks were often arranged in a coloured framework. Slate roofs and iron railings were commonly used, and the windows were often bayed (protruding outwards from the main walls).