What Is a Manor House in Architecture?

What Is a Manor House in Architecture?

What Is a Manor House in Architecture?

A manor house is a country house that historically formed the administrative center of a manor, the lowest unit of territorial organization in the feudal system in Europe.

The term “manor house” can be loosely applied to various country houses, frequently dating from the Late Middle Ages, which formerly housed the landed gentry.

In strict architectural terms, a manor house is a late medieval country house. The primary feature of the manor-house was its great hall, to which subsidiary apartments were added as the lessening of feudal warfare permitted more peaceful domestic life.

Manor houses were sometimes fortified but not as fortified as castles and were intended more for show than for defensibility.

The medieval manor house has its architectural roots in the Saxon hall, a simple rectangular building which acted as a communal gathering place for eating, sleeping, and transacting business.

Servants and other retainers slept around an open fire in the center of the hall while the lord and his family occupied a raised dais at one end of the hall.

This simple Saxon design was incorporated into early Norman castles with the hall occupying the first floor of the castle keep.

In England in the 11th century, a manor house was an informal group of related timber or stone buildings consisting of the hall, chapel, kitchen, and farm buildings within walls or ditches that often included farm buildings as well.

Arranged for defense against robbers and thieves, manor houses were sometimes surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge and equipped with gatehouses and watchtowers; but they were not generally fortified to withstand sieges by organized armies.

What Is the Purpose of a Manor House?

The purpose of a manor house was to serve as the administrative centre of a manor in the European feudal system.

It was the main residence of the lord of the manor and within its great hall were held the lord’s manorial courts, communal meals with manorial tenants and great banquets.

The essential feature of medieval manor houses was the great hall, which served as living and sleeping quarters for the lord’s followers and servants, as well as his family.

Manor houses were also used to dispense justice through their courts and could call upon villagers for labour and financial assistance. In addition, they served as a place of assembly for tenantry. Manor houses were sometimes fortified but were intended more for show than for defensibility.

Manor House Architecture Styles

Manor house architecture styles have evolved over the centuries, from Romanesque and Gothic in the Middle Ages to Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism, and Historicism in the 16th to 19th centuries.

In the United States, Georgian architecture is a typical style used for manor-style homes in the mid-Atlantic region. A homegrown variant of Georgian called Federal architecture emerged in the late 1700s.

In Denmark, Manor houses were typically built in Baroque style until Classicism reigned and Romantic manorial buildings began to emerge in the 19th century. The first Neo-Gothic house in Denmark dates from 1837.

The tradition of English country houses has its roots in the Tudor period and continued through the 19th century with styles ranging from Baroque to Palladian, Jacobean to Art Deco. These homes often accommodate a particular lifestyle associated with the outdoors such as dogs and horses, muddy boots and riding crops.

An example of an English Style Manor House is one designed by architect David Chipperfield. Once inside, it features groin vaults, arched halls and whitewashed timber framing accentuating its airy nature.

Manor House Interior Design

The English country house style is based on the layered interiors of old manor houses in the English countryside.

The style is pretty, with a certain casual elegance that allows for a bit of eccentricity and clutter. The range of influences from which to choose is wide indeed, from classical Palladian symmetry to Victorian Gothic romanticism. The English country style features a rich color palette of pinks, greens, blues and reds.

A manor for sale has about 12,419 Sq. Ft., 5 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms and a separate guest house. It has beautiful millwork, plastered walls, authentic French stone and wood flooring, custom French doors and 10 fireplaces. The architecture is so beautiful that it doesn’t need too many furnishings.

Manor House Exterior Design Styles

Manor house exterior design styles vary widely, from Victorian and Queen Anne to Colonial Revival and Tudor.

French Country-style homes are popular for their European elegance, often featuring a mix of stone and stucco facades, sloped roofs, ornate details, and tall, narrow windows.

Craftsman-style homes are also popular for their rustic yet refined look, with wide front porches, low-pitched roofs, and built-in furniture.

Other popular manor house exterior design styles include;

  • Federal style homes with their ornamentation and grand curved steps leading up to the entrance
  • Italianate style homes with their old-world ambience
  • Art Deco structures with their flat roofs and tropical pastels
  • Tudor style homes with their mix of materials on the exterior such as stucco, brick, and wood.

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