Oxburgh Hall


Detail of unidentified house

Late Medieval English houses are curiosities. Neither house nor castle, they mix the forms of earlier defensive buildings with new luxuries. Expensive brick and stone form walls and battlements. Extravagant chimneys tower above all. Large, elaborate windows – with costly glass – puncture the walls, making defence difficult. Moats are used as picturesque features, settings for leisure rather than barriers against intruders.

The effects created were clearly much-loved, and were incorporated in a wide range of buildings, including Oxford and Cambridge colleges, schools and almshouses. These features continued to be built by the Elizabethans and Jacobeans, and were revived by the Victorians.   

Many houses were built in this style in East Anglia during this period. The rich profits from agriculture and manufacture made the area one of the wealthiest in the country. Landowners and merchants exploited the social and economic changes following the Black Death. East Anglia was booming, and the country was relatively stable, politically. Protection became less of a concern: display now mattered. Of these houses, Oxbrugh Hall is perhaps the finest surviving specimen in the region, modelled on other earlier buildings, including Tattershall Castle. 

About the online exhibition

'How We Built Britain' is a major collaboration with the BBC


Images in the exhibition are from RIBApix, a growing database dedicated to providing you with exceptional and unique images from the RIBA British Architectural Library's collections.

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