The Rebuilding of Rural England, 1570–1640

  • W. G. Hoskins


Between the accession of Elizabeth I and the outbreak of the Civil War, there occurred in England a revolution in the housing of a considerable part of the population. The evidence for this is more abundant in the rural districts than in the towns, where there has necessarily been more replacement of buildings during the past three hundred years. It is probable, however, that the Great Rebuilding was originally as noticeable in the towns as in the country, if we may judge by those English towns (such as Shrewsbury and Totnes) which retain much of their old character. The movement appears to have begun in the 1560’s and was most conspicuous in the last generation of the sixteenth century and the first generation of the seventeenth — roughly between 1570 and 1640. If one wished to be more precise, one might put the years of greatest activity in building between 1575 and 1625 to judge by the dated examples from all parts of the country.


Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Building Activity Fifteenth Century Housing Standard 
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    Richard Carew, Survey of Cornwall (1723 ed.), p. 66b.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Robert Loder’s Farm Accounts, 1610–20 , ed. G. E. Fussell (Camden Society, Third Series, liii (1936)), pp. 157–8.Google Scholar
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    County Record Office, Leicester: inventories of personal estate. For the housing changes in a typical village see my Essays in Leicestershire History (1950), 58–65.Google Scholar
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    Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex, 1635–1749, ed. F. W. Steer (1950), pp. 9–10.Google Scholar
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    W. Bennett, History of Burnley (1946–51), vol. ii, pp. 64, 248. See the Life of Adam Martindale (Chetham Society, 1845) pp. 1–2, for details of such a rebuilding by a Lancashire yeoman some time before 1623.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© W. G. Hoskins 1963

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. G. Hoskins
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordUK

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