-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Sunday, August 14, 2005

concept of a "living hall"

We first heard about this on our visit to Standen, and it's turned out to have particular relevance to our own house design (more on that in the next post). So, I thought I'd expand here about what it is.

In doing this, I'm going to cheat and quote from a wonderful book called "The Arts & Crafts Home" by Wendy Hitchmough. I've had this for several years now as a book to dip into, but had never actually read it properly until we visited Standen, which is one of the houses it focuses on.

Here's two pictures, taken from either end...
st8 015living hall at Standen

... and here's how it's described:

"Beyond the entrance porch, Webb provided a substantial
hall, panelled and furnished as a living room with a wide
fireplace around which the family and its friends could gather
for afternoon tea and musical recitals. The ‘living hall’ was
an Arts and Crafts invention, popularised by Webb and founded
on a romantic notion of the mediaeval hall in which a larger
social family would congregate to eat, drink and sleep.

In smaller Arts and Crafts cottages and bungalows almost the
entire ground floor was planned as a multi-purpose ‘living hall’
in a practical determination to sweep away the conventional
warren of tiny rooms. In larger houses like Standen, however,
the hall was a subtle subversion of Victorian values. The
traditional masculine and feminine spaces of billiard room
and drawing room both opened directly onto the hall at Standen
and by providing a neutral third reception room at a time when
attitudes to chaperoning and appropriate behaviour for young
women were in a state of flux, Webb undermined the moral zeal
of earlier Victorian country houses.


When Webb visited the Beales in January 1898 he found 11 people
gathered around the fireplace there for tea and, as a consequence
of its success, the hall was made larger and lighter. The
panelling was repainted in white and Webb extended the room
northwards... The combination of the hall and drawing room gave
Standen, and other country houses of its type, the advantages of
a suite of rooms for entertaining, which previously only much
larger country houses had enjoyed. In winter, when the large
windows that characterised the light and airy drawing room made
it difficult to keep warm, the room could be left unheated
and unused".

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