Medieval Construction

Saxon Manors and Market Buildings

Stucco plaster on woven stick lathe backing: "wattle and daub" infill, usually used for the construction of the early medieval saxon manor houses and, in towns, for the homes and businesses of merchants and guild tradesmen: very few original such buildings remain.

These illustrations show off the cruck timber mainframe popular with builders in the middle ages. Each curved cruck timber was cut in one piece from the structure formed where the trunk of a large oak tree turns into an especially heavy growth of a branching limb.

The roof was clad in straw thatch or tiles of fired clay, but the ready supply of slate tile in some markets made it the favourite roofing material of the well financed builder.

isometric cutaway view

click on thumb for bigger image

The foundation of such an expensive building was always assembled with large cut stone blocks, which protected the frame from settlement and twisting, not to mention rot.

Old Ledbury town market

Another class of developer which could afford these buildings were the town markets. Beginning as agricultural fairs under royal license, they grew under town sponsorship into financially grand institutions. The town markets developed only with an exclusive royal license. In other words, no town could hold a market unless a royal license was granted for that purpose, with a cut going to the Royal treasury. No farmer could market his own produce outside of the town market, once the exclusive rights were granted to the town to market the produce of its region. The effort to sell produce before the farmer got to a licensed stall was called fore stalling, and it was illegal. It was outlawed to prevent wealthy merchants from buying up all the produce themselves and holding a monopoly over the market, driving up prices.

Another old town market in the Midlands

The old nursery rhyme, "Simple Simon", is actually about Simon's attempt to engage the Pieman in fore-stalling... he met a Pieman going to the fair, and tried to buy from him beforehand, presumably at wholesale price.

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