UK Housing Heritage

Tudor – 1485 – 1603

tudor house

The Tudor house was defined by its Tudor arch and oriel windows. The Tudor period was the first period to move away from the medieval style houses and was more like a timber framed country house. Today Tudor houses are all listed building and highly sought after due to there location and the amount of space and history involved. Tudor houses are an expensive housing option so be prepared for the financial layout and upkeep costs. If that doesn’t put you off then buying a Tudor house could be a great investment and opportunity to keep English heritage alive.

Elizabethan – 1550 -1625

elizabethan house

Elizabethan houses can be recognised by their large vertical timber frames that are often supported by diagonal beams. The Elizabethan style houses were similar to medieval style houses. These houses were built sturdy to last through the age. The houses were built by the middle class are are today listed building.

Jacobean – 1603 – 1625

Jacobean house

The Jacobean style gets its name from King James 1 of England who reigned at the time. The Jacobean style in England follows the Elizabethan style and is the second phase of Renaissance architecture. May Jacobean houses were very large both inside and out with large rooms for family living.  Common features included columns and pilasters, arches and archades. These features were to create a sense of grandeur. There are many Jacobean style houses on the market today if your lucky enough to be able to afford one.

Stuart – 1603 – 1714

stuart house

One of the most common period property types for country houses. This period house boasted elegant exteriors with sash windows, high ceiling and spacious rooms. The outside was commonly bare brick and flat fronted.

English Baroque – 1702 – 1714

During this period houses were decorated with arches, columns and sculptures and took many features and characteristics from the continent. The interiors were very exuberant with artwork and ornaments in all rooms main rooms

Palladian – 1715 -1770

palladian house

The Palladian era started in 1715 and these types of houses are characterised by symmetry and classic forms, more plain than other eras however on the inside houses were lavish and often had elaborate decorations

Georgian – 1714 – 1837

georgian house

The Georgian house was styled with rigid symmetry, the most common Georgian house was built with brick with window decorative headers and hip roofs. The Georgian house period started and got its name due to the 4 successive kings being named George.

Regency – 1811 – 1820

regency house

The Regency housing style was common among the upper and middle classes from 1811 to 1820 the houses were typically built in brick and then covered in painted plaster. The plaster was carefully moulded to produce elegant decorative touches to give the exterior of the house more elegance.

Victorian – 1837 – 1910

victorian house

Very common even today especially in London. A Victorian house in general refers to any house build during the reign of Queen Victoria. The main features of a Victoria house are roofs made of slate with sash windows and patters in the brick work that are made using different colour bricks. Stained Glass windows and doors were also a common feature as were bay windows

Edwardian – 1901 -1910

edwardian house

Edwardian architecture got its name during the reign of King Edward from 1901 – 1910. These types of houses were generally built in a straight line with red brick. Edwardian houses typically had wooden frame porches and wide hallways. The rooms inside were wider and brighter moving away from the older style houses that were more gothic. Parquet wood floors and simple internal decoration was common also.


Charlemagne and the Franks

The second ruler in the relatively young Carolingian dynasty, Charlemagne would rise to power and fundamentally change the nature of the Frankish kingdom. His father, Pepin, established Carolingian rule after deposing the Merovingian kings and began a process of organizing the empire under a ruler with real power. Whereas the Merovingian kings were merely figureheads, Pepin began, and Charlemagne finished, establishing a fairly strong kingship.

Charlemagne the Warrior Emperor

Charlemagne began as a warrior and remained one for the rest of his life. When he came to power, he proceeded to undertake fifty-four military campaigns with a small force of Frankish soldiers. He was constantly expanding and pushing the borders of the Carolingian Franks outward. This reversed the pattern of Merovingian rule, during which the borders of the Frankish kingdom consistently shrank. In 773, the relationship between the Franks and the Catholic Church hit its peak, with the Pope requesting aid in pushing the Lombard occupiers out of Italy. Charlemagne succeeded and was crowned Emperor of the Roman Empire in 800.

At this time, Rome was barely a shadow of its former glory, and the Church very badly wanted to maintain the illusion of Roman power in order to protect its interests. Charlemagne took the role but did not act like a traditional Roman Emperor. He did not look like one and did not act like one. While in formal situations he did eventually adopt the trappings of an Emperor, in all other situations he dressed more casually and befitting of a Frankish warrior king.

Despite this he did see serious advantages to being a Roman Emperor. It solidified his position as ruler of the Franks, allowed him to consolidate his power there, gained him a new ally in the Roman Church, and established Frankish legitimacy as a force to be reckoned with. The Frankish kingdom was no longer a scattered assortment of warring factions. Charlemagne had created a central structure that allowed him to more easily control his territory and rule as a true Emperor would.

Charlemagne Rebuilds Europe

Charlemagne sent agents to conduct his business and keep his subjects in line. He never sent the agents to their home region to avoid the temptation they might feel to start a revolt against Charlemagne’s rule. Charlemagne controlled the Bishops, and spent much of the rest of his rule trying to undermine the Church and establish his control over it. Charlemagne would call Capitularies (meetings) at times for regional lords to express their concerns and ask for military help. In this way Charlemagne’s empire was actually fairly responsive to the needs of the nobles so as to quickly deal with issues that may rise.

Charlemagne also wanted to improve the education of the Franks, and “Romanize” them as much as possible. He enlisted the aid of Alcuin of York to serve as a sort of minister of education. The barbarian invasions that brought down Rome eliminated many of the people who spoke Latin, so scholars from England, Ireland, and Scotland were relied on to preserve and re-introduce ancient thought and customs. Under Charlemagne and Alcuin texts proliferated, Roman institutions were re-introduced and Latin became the official language of government, even though few spoke it. They standardized and “cleaned up” the old, confusing Merovingian script. Much of what we know from pre-Charlemagne was a result of this preservation.

It was in this way that Charlemagne rose to become a fearsome, intelligent, powerful Frankish king. He fought and manipulated his way to become a Roman Emperor and managed to create a Roman renaissance. He forged close ties, though they were sometimes stressed, with the Roman Church and set the stage for the intermingling of Church and State in subsequent European states. If it were not for Charlemagne, modern Europe would look much different today, and much of what we know of ancient Rome would have been lost or difficult to decipher.

1 Rutherford, David. “The Merovingians and Carolingians”. Development of Western Civilization 102. October 18th, 2006.

What’s so Bad About Being Catholic ?

Fairly frequently, especially at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, I hear people putting-down or disparaging the Catholic Church. Sometimes when people are sharing their thoughts and feelings at the meetings that I regularly attend they preface their monologue with statements such as “I’m a recovering catholic.”

Every time I hear such a statement it sort of bothers me because in AA we are regularly trying to accept personal responsibility for our actions.

Through the years I have heard people blame the Catholic Church for a wide range of personal problems that were most likely caused by their own actions.

Among the problems that I have heard people blame on the Catholic Church are the breakup of marriages, relationships and friendships, stress and anger issues and even the development of one’s personal alcoholism.

As a child I was raised as a catholic and I attended catholic school in seventh and eighth grades. To this day my most prized possession is still the small crucifix that I received as a gift for my First Holy Communion more than 40 years ago.

While the Catholic Church has had to endure the shame and outrage of scandals caused by some sick, twisted priests it has remained true to its values and ideals and has been able to weather the storms of controversy well.

In actuality only a small percentage of the many devoted priests practicing worldwide would ever be involved in such horrible, sickening behaviors. The same holds true with some financial scandals involving catholic priests. It is only a small minority of priests who would ever consider doing such bad things. The majority of catholic priests are still faithful and devoted to carrying out the work and message of the church.

Sometimes I like to ask friends, family members, neighbors and aquaintances what they think of the Catholic Church. While some people are quick to point out the scandals that have rocked the church and others claim that the church’s teachings are outdated, most of the people that I talk to maintain pretty good opinions of the church. More than once I have heard people remark on how beautiful the Catholic Mass is.

It would only be logical that some practicing catholics would not agree with every single stance that the church takes on social issues. But one’s personal opinion on any issues differing with the church’s stance doesn’t mean they have to stop practicing the faith.

Out of curiousity I decided to research online how many catholics there are in the United States as well as the total number of catholics there are worldwide. According to there were 67.1 million catholics in the United States in 2009, making it the largest ecclesial community in America. By going to I learned that in 2009 there were 1,181,000,000 baptized catholics worldwide. With numbers like that it’s easy to see that there are plenty of people who might ask “What’s so bad about being catholic ?”

Review of Ken Follett’s Book One of the Century Trilogy: Fall of Giants

Shorter than his previous bestseller, World Without End (the paperback is over one thousand pages), Fall of Giants opens in 1911, leads up to the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution, wrapping up in the post-War years and concluding in 1924. This hardcover copy from the library weighs almost four pounds and measures roughly two inches or five and a half centimeters thick, which made it a little awkward to read in bed. The book published in 2010 debuted in sixteen countries simultaneously according to Follett.
As Follett explains at the end of Fall of Giants, the fictional characters interact with real historical figures and he adapts records of actual events. The research for this novel must have been monumental, never mind keeping track of the characters. That list at the front of the hardcover is six pages long. Phew. And all are inter-related.

First up is Billy Williams and his family who live and work in the coal mining community of Aberowen in South Wales. He is thirteen, of age to go down the pit. His 18-year-old sister Ethel works at Ty Gwyn, owned by the Fitzherbert family, namely the Earl who is called Fitz, his Russian wife Bea and his sister Lady Maud.

The prominent Russian characters are two brothers, the older responsible Grigori and the younger unscrupulous Lev Peshkov. From Germany, we have the von Ulrichs, mainly the son Walter. In America, we have the Dewars, particularly Gus who works for President Woodrow Wilson.

To date, Follett has nineteen books to his credit, starting with Eye of the Needle that became an international bestseller when he was only twenty-seven. He went from writing successful thrillers to novels based on history but he kept his story-telling skills in the latter. That means you can expect Fall of Giants to be entertaining. His very impressive Web site actually explains his “Art of Suspense” and how to keep the reader from getting bored with turns that are not too soon and not too late. This story definitely moves along. There’s plenty of action, no surprise considering the time in history, and many entanglements that involve opposing views on political issues such as socialism, conservatism, liberalism and women’s rights as well as personal relationships/events that range from murder to cheating husbands and illegitimate children.

Although Fall of Giants lives up to the author’s reputation for a good read, I thought this book could have used more editing. The ending seemed rather perfunctory, possibly because the story is to be continued in the forthcoming novels in the trilogy. After 236 customer reviews, Amazon rates Fall of Giants only two stars out of five.

My read was done under the pressure of a due date at the library. But I would recommend any Follett book if you’re looking for enjoyment and in this case, have the time to read at a leisurely pace.

The D.C. Madam and the Tale of an 18th Century Madam Who Died from Public Scorn

There was a time in America when there wouldn’t be as much public scorn for a high-profile madam running a brothel for the elite. As considerable amounts of America have moved toward becoming more conservative since 9/11, it’s probably no wonder that Deborah Jean Palfrey was afraid of what prison would bring or even being around people in general. Obviously nothing should merit suicide either, but the same fate could have befallen a notorious 18th-century madam in London, England if it hadn’t been that the public exhibited violence toward her, ultimately leading to her death before she could get any retribution. That particular madam’s name was Elizabeth Needham–and it wouldn’t surprise me if a movie was made about her eventually since Oscar-hungry actresses always win an Academy Award playing hookers, thanks or no thanks to “Pretty Woman.”

A lot of the public record on Needham has been lost and mostly shrouded in myth. There isn’t any doubt that she existed, though, and she’s very much immortalized in the counterpart to William Hogarth’s “Rake’s Progress” paintings: “A Harlot’s Progress.” It’s in those paintings and etchings where Hogarth put a face to her when madams weren’t the kind to sit down and have a portrait painted of them.

Needham was quite notorious around London and was known for having one of the largest brothels in the area of St. James. It wouldn’t be surprising if William Hogarth himself took in the services of Needham’s brothel, even though that isn’t known for sure. It’s a great excuse for a painter to visit there as study for his work without partaking in what they offer. Nevertheless, we’ll give Hogarth the benefit of the doubt if he ever doubted it. There were certainly people in higher stature than Hogarth hanging around Needham’s brothel. Everybody from high and mighty military leaders to other high-ranking members of parliament secretly slipped in for a rendezvous with some of the well-known prostitutes of the time.

One of those upper-ranking prostitutes was one Sally Salisbury who was the equivalent to Heidi Fleiss today in how many important names she kept in a likely black book. Needham managed to reel Salisbury in along with an extensive and experienced coterie of prostitutes after another high-ranking madam in London died. But mostly, Needham took girls off the street, which is the worst form of prostitution rings and forcing these girls into a situation where they had no choice if they didn’t want to die homeless.

Despite flirting with getting arrested much earlier, Needham’s fate was quite ironic, especially when her arrest and death was brought on from an English legal movement and not from the reality that she allowed a high-ranking general to rape one of her prostitutes…

The Society for the Reformation of Manners…

When a Justice of the Peace placed a raid on all brothels around London after that above-mentioned rape case involving Col. Francis Charteris (who was a serial rapist and got his due via public scorn a year after Needham’s death), Needham was the first target. A lot of people were surprised that her brothel wasn’t raided earlier with the growing legal movement of the Society for the Reformation of Manners that was akin to the Comstock Laws in America during the 1880’s that brought feminist and sex promoter Victoria Woodhull down. In the Reformation’s philosophical and moral quest, all things in London related to prostitution or any sort of immorality were considered evil and had to be punished in a court of law.

It’s interesting to note that when Needham was rounded up and sentenced to be placed on the pillory (one of the most controversial forms of criminal punishment next to the electric chair), it was merely under the Reformation of Manners law and not based on the notion that she was indirectly responsible for Col. Charteris raping Needham prostitute, Ann Bond. When Londoners showed up to see Needham on the pillory, they apparently had all those things in mind when they viciously attacked her while she lied face down–even with security nearby to attempt and protect her.

The visions of Needham getting pelted with stones or physically beaten by the general populace probably swam around in Deborah Jean Palfrey’s head when she committed suicide in a time when the world’s oldest profession is still one of the most controversial. With that in mind, the art of forgiveness has also evolved into the American spirit since the time of 1700’s England. When it comes to high-profile madams, though, who’ve lured in men who make the laws of the land, some of the American public may not be so forgiving.

Needham, incidentally, died the next day after that public beating when she could have received a decent trial had the pillory not have existed. When public scorn is the ultimate worst feeling, what’s to say that Needham wouldn’t have taken her own life eventually if given the opportunity? Madams who continually live the lifestyle they do on the edge without getting caught for so long hopelessly end up in a situation where there’s no chance for renewal as a prostitute usually can manage in the public’s eyes.

Ultimately, the job of a madam is one akin to a mafia godfather who will have all the blame placed on their shoulders for every crime their inner circle commits.

The Road to Revolution: Causes of the American Revolution

The American Revolution was the end result of a decade of tension and miscommunication between the American colonies and England. With England in debt from a costly war with France, they needed another source of revenue. The colonies had been going through a time of salutary neglect. They had been governing themselves and England was not involved with much of their daily interactions. So when England began to become more involved with America’s affairs it did not sit well with the colonists. Soon taxes were being placed on simple, essential, everyday items like tea, books and even playing cards and Tensions rose between the British and the colonist until revolution was inevitable.

In October of 1763, England restricted all settling beyond the Appalachian Mountains. This angered the colonist greatly but did not ultimately prevent them from continuing to move westward. They were not so much angered over the actual implications of the new law, but rather because this move was made without them having any knowledge of it. Nearly a year later Parliament passed the Sugar and Currency Acts. The Sugar act was made in response to the Sugar and Molasses Act nearing expiration. While the previous act was supposedly made for regulating trade, this one was clearly an attempt at raising revenue in hope of paying off the debt created by the French and Indian War. Then just a few months later Parliament would pass the Stamp Act, which required that many things like, newspapers, books, playing cards and documents, be stamped with a certain seal.

When word of this development reached the new world it created much upheaval within the colonies. Tempers were flaring and discontent with the crown was at a boiling point. Then in 1765 yet another Act was passed. This one required that the colonist had to house and feed British soldiers deployed in the colonies. Not only was the idea of having to care for these red coats repulsive to the colonist but their very presence was not welcomed. For years, there had been a very small British presence amongst the colonists. They had been governing themselves and living independent from Britain for the most part. The deploying of a significant amount of troops into the new world disgusted the colonist and set emotions ablaze. Parliament would then go on to enacted the Declaratory act in 1766 which took all law making rights from the colonist themselves and back into the hands of England. Parliament passed taxes on lead, glass, paint and tea and in response to Samuel Adams Circular Letters, British troops were placed in Boston. Not only were Americans being forced to pay for a war fought by their mother country but they were now being taken by the collar once again.

Emotions were running wild and newly occupied Boston is now the center of attention. On March 5, 1770 a series of foggy events led to the shooting of a few unarmed Bostonians by British soldiers deployed in Massachusetts. While it is unclear who was truly at fault for the actions of the soldiers the Boston Massacre would send ripples across all of colonial America. In Rhode Island a British ship is set on fire and back in Boston a book is published outlining all of their rights that they believed had been violated by the British. In May of the following year, Parliament passes the Tea Act which ordered that all tea be shipped directly to America. In most of the major cities the tea was rejected and sent back to Britain. Yet in Boston, after the ship’s commander refused to leave, the colonist began to unload the tea and throw it in the harbor. This act of revolt was met with the creation of the Coercive and Quebec acts.

The closing of the Boston Harbor prompted a meeting between all of the major colonial leaders. On September 5, 1774 55 of the most influential colonial men met in Philadelphia and discussed the current situation with England. Among these men were prominent colonial figures like, George Washington and Sam and John Adams. They agreed that if significant progress hadn’t been made they would meet once again the following year. Months past and the situation became worse. In April of 1775 word that England was moving it’s troops out of Boston most likely to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock and to confiscate a load of arms. Paul Revere road on horseback from Boston to Lexington warning everyone of the British troops movements. In the few days to follow fighting between the colonist and England would break out at the Battle of Lexington and Concord.