Rabu, 10 Mei 2017

Home Zone Furniture

Home Zone Furniture

'i'm dr lucy worsley, chief curator at historic royal palaces, 'based here at hampton court.' another day at the office! 'as a historian though, i'm fascinated not just by grand palaces, 'but also by the more intimate moments and objects in history, 'and by how they inform our lives today.' oh, it's exciting, it's exciting! 'in this series, i'll be tracing the story of british domestic life 'through four rooms - the bathroom, the bedroom,

'the living room, and the kitchen.' both laugh 'from the homes of the middle ages to the present day, 'i'll be exploring the ways that our attitudes and habits have changed. 'i'll be meeting some extraordinary people...' he's glowing at us. '..and doing some rather odd things.' woooo! 'this time, from having a tea party in a georgian drawing room...'

well, this is a bit like drug paraphernalia, isn't it? '..to lighting original victorian gaslights...' lovely golden glow, isn't it? '..i'll be discovering how the living room has developed over the past 700 years.' the bbc didn't think tv would catch on... we take an awful lot for granted about life in a modern house. it's full of technology to make life more convenient. it's comfortable, it's private. but all this has evolved over many, many centuries. every single room in a modern house has a really fascinating history.

'this time, i'll be exploring the story of the living room, 'the room that has gone through more changes 'than any other in the house.' it's pretty clear what goes on in the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the bathroom - their functions are clearly defined. much harder to say what goes on in the living room of the house. in this house, the old front room has been knocked into what used to be the dining room, making a big multi-purpose living room space. at that end, you could be slobbing out on the sofa watching television,

and at this end you might be dressed up, entertaining your friends. so it's very, very flexible. and this has gone on throughout history. the living room's had all sorts of names - it's been called the lounge, the parlour, the reception room, drawing room, family room, television room... but there's one thing that's always remained the same - it's been a place for families and friends to come together, it's a social space. that idea has always been at the heart of the living room. 'and nowhere more so than in medieval england.

'today most of us are lucky enough to live in our own homes, but in the middle ages 'it was much more common to live communally - even in the home of your employer. 'and instead of living rooms, these houses had large open halls. 'so to find out how this living space was organised, 'i've come to meet historian john goodall 'in a 15th century farmhouse.' wow, this is pretty impressive isn't it? yes, halls are the oldest spaces in english domestic architecture. they've been the centrepieces of houses

really from the dark ages to the present. even today, in your house, you may have a lobby that's called a hall. and why did they last such a long time - what's so great about the great hall? well, they last such a long time because they embody, in the middle ages, a very important concept - communal living. the idea of a household where people come together, and they live, eat together and share conversation together. so, it is an architectural expression of a social unit, the household - and that's what it's always been,

and that concept is so powerful in english social history. 'the household was the centre of medieval life. 'from the palace of the king to the humblest peasant dwelling, 'it was a communal unit of workers, servants, relatives, 'all living in the same space. 'and it was in the open hall that they'd eat, 'gather in front of the fire, and sleep safely behind bolted doors.' this is a very interesting example of a building of a middling, wealthy man of the 15th century,

and the kind of space that he would have created for his small household of servants and his own family. but it's a very hierarchical. indeed, to a medieval eye, there are lots of invisible delineations in this hall. there's a main body of the hall, a fireplace, and what in a grand house would be a raised step or dais, with a high table. so if i were a miserable, lowly serf, and i came in here, i would know that i really shouldn't go up to that end - that's not my place to do so.

you wouldn't put your foot on the line of the dais. and you would just know that instinctively, in much the same way that we know to queue at a bus stop today. it's all these things which are culturally ingrained in you, and you understand the space. 'this hall might not have a dais, but it does have a top table, 'where even the furniture was arranged according to hierarchy.' i think the farmer would have been sitting on this, cos it's not a lowly stool, it is a chair. and he sits here at his table, which is called a board - cos it is very literally a board on top of trestles.

and because he's the most important person in the household - he's sitting at a chair, under a board - he is the "chairman of the board", that's the origin of the expression. well, he would also, of course, have been sitting at that side facing down the hall, looking at everybody as they sat together. the chairman of the board would have sat there in the middle. 'the focal point of life in the hall 'was the central hearth - literally "focus" in latin. 'but with no chimney, the smoke could only escape

'through the large open windows or the tiles in the roof.' the problem with these great central hearths was the horrible, black smelly smoke, and here is a medieval man's list of three reasons to leave a house. the first is "a wife with a wicked tongue". the second is "a leaky roof", and the third, perhaps the most important, are the days when "smoke and smoulder smite in his eyes "till he is bleary eyed or blind, "hoarse in the throat, and he cougheth and curseth".

in fact, it's so smoky in here i feel like coughing and cursing and going to get a bit of fresh air. 'by the late 16th century, a new phenomenon was entering domestic architecture, one 'that would transform the living room from the smoky open hall of the past.' this looks like a classic english country cottage - it was built by sheep farmers at the beginning of the 17th century - but although it looks so traditional to us, it actually contains something revolutionary inside. 'and that something was the chimney.' this is the exciting new thing, it's the brick chimney breast. it contains the fire, stops the smoke going everywhere,

and it splits the big open hall into separate rooms for the first time. so this one here is a kitchen - cooking, eating - and through here we've got a recognisable living room for the first time, you could sit here in front of the fire enjoying yourself. the other change is that the big draughty rafters of the hall have been sealed off. there's a whole extra story in there - the bedrooms are upstairs. so this technological breakthrough of the chimney, it allows the modern

house as we'd recognise it today to come into existence. 'chimneys had been a feature of the grandest manors and castles since 'the 12th century, but they were expensive to build, and the open 'hearth remained a powerful concept. 'so chimneys wouldn't reach middling homes until the late 16th century. 'now the house was subdivided and its fire was closed off with brick, 'it became a darker place. 'so, to illustrate how living spaces were lit, 'lighting historian maureen dillon has brought a collection of lights

'that would have been used in a cottage just like this one.' what's that funny-looking thing there? it's a rushlight, which was first thought to have been used in england before the roman occupation, made from a common or soft rush dragged through animal fat. this one's been dipped in mutton - it was usually for less offensive smells and less smoke. - so sheep smell less than pigs when their fat is burnt?- yes. 'the alternative to a rushlight was the tallow candle. 'you make these from repeatedly dipping wicks

'of twisted hemp or flax into pots of boiling animal fat.' so that one's much browner and sort of dirty-looking... absolutely, and what you've got there are bits of the erm, - the flesh from the animal...- urgh! - bits of hoof, or...whatever. - it's a meat-flavoured candle! a meat-flavoured candle. but if you were starving to death, you would be quite happy to eat this. ooh, what a horrible thought! 'before the lights were lit, the house had to be sealed from draughts,

'which burnt the candles more quickly and wasted precious money.' we're using the shutter to shut the "wind eye", the eye where the wind came in. here we go, lighting the end of the rushlight. ooh, it's melting and dripping fat... yeah, often people put a wet cloth underneath to stop the grease. - now, can i demonstrate burning the candle at both ends(?)- yes. why not? you just light the other end like this. 'lit rushlights would last 20 minutes at most, so burning them 'at both ends was reserved only for special occasions.'

so the advantage of this one is that it's going to - have less smoke and it's going to last a lot longer, right?- yes. the more you paid for the candle, you got more light, less smell, less smoke, so at this end of the market - the very poor - they got the more smell, the more smoke and the less light. so that's the good candle out, and we are just left with the tiny, cheap meat candle - and you can see how it's guttered,

all the fat has gushed down the side and it's making very little light. owl hoots 'with lighting so expensive, rushlights were pooled with the neighbours. 'they'd take it in turns to go round to each other's houses - not for leisure, but for work. 'in the few minutes of affordable artificial light, housewives would 'finish off vital household tasks 'like spinning wool or mending clothes.' now that i understand just how hard it is to make rushlights,

and how quickly they burn, i've got a real new understanding of just how valuable they were. and it also gives me a new understanding of how important the fire is - not only for warmth, but for light in the evenings, it's just essential. and in fact, in places like cumbria, the fire was so important, that they kept it burning for generations. it never went out. this room would be called the fire room, rather than the living room. 'in comparison to country cottages with their single chimney, the owners of grand houses and palaces 'projected their wealth through a profusion of chimney stacks.'

by the late 16th century, there were two really obvious status symbols which marked out the houses of the wealthiest, like hampton court palace here - the chimneys, and the glass windows. there's a huge number of chimneys here at hampton court. the implication is a lot of fireplaces, a lot of wood being burnt, a lot of land to provide the wood. glass had been around since roman times, it was prominent in medieval churches - but in the 16th century makes the great leap out of churches into people's houses.

and it was so valuable, that you might even pack up your glass windows and take them with you when you moved house. 'in order to see the impact that glass had on the living room, 'i've come to hardwick hall in derbyshire, 'famously known as "hardwick hall, more glass than wall".' this is a totally new kind of house. i think it's elizabethan england's greatest architectural achievement, i just love it. all those windows send out beams of light and culture across the countryside. it's not a house for defence, or for farming -

it doesn't have any function at all really apart from to impress people. and it's got a new type of living room that's all about expressing your status to guests - in fact, it's a house intended for showing off. 'hardwick hall was built by bess of hardwick, the countess of shrewsbury 'and the second richest woman in the land. 'finished in 1597, just three years before the country cottage i visited, 'this is what money could buy. 'instead of just one living room, this house had a whole suite of them.

'hardwick's curator andrew barber is showing me round.' this is where everyone would have come into hardwick for the first time, through the front door, and this would be a throng of busy servants running hither and yon. now, this is still a great hall, but it's not really the heart of the household any more, is it? 'instead of the great hall, a new room called the great chamber was the focus of houses like this one. 'at hardwick, guests reached it by climbing a dizzyingly designed ceremonial staircase.' if you're standing here, as we are, you just feel like you're a little dwarf - and here's this super-human staircase, going up to, oh, i don't know... i feel that god might be sitting at the top of it -

we can see the rays of his light coming down around the corner. yes, the great lantern windows of the south tower is what is waiting for you up there, to prepare you to go into the presence of bess herself. - (do we dare?) - i don't know... i think we ought to. come on, then! they're very comfortable these stairs, aren't they, they're not too high at all... 'the whole household would have been welcome in the medieval hall, but now 'only the most important visitors were invited up into the great chamber.'

- there we are... - i've disorientated myself(!) there's a little catch at the bottom here. - it's got a lock on it... from narnia(!)- and there we are. - and here it is, the high great chamber.- wow! 'bathed in light from the enormous windows, this giant reception room 'was used for parties and feasts and entertaining on a lavish scale. 'with the smoke contained by the enormous fireplace, 'bess commissioned one of england's most striking interiors.' and what are the key features that you need, then, for a top-notch great chamber like this one?

well, you need to show off who you are and how wealthy you are, your status - and so you do that by your furnishings. and in this room, there still exists quite a bit of the furnishing and decoration that bess had. the tapestries, they would have been very much more highly coloured, they've faded a lot. there were embroidered cushions on stools in here, which were embroidered with silver and gold thread... and then up above is this wonderful allegorical frieze. it would have been brilliantly coloured, and that's what one has to

bear in mind coming into this great room. your senses would have been assaulted by the amount of light from these great lantern windows, and then the colour and the gorgeous quality of the textiles. 'after the glorious great chamber, 'there were two further rooms into which guests might be invited. 'first was the semi-public long gallery, which ran the full length 'of the house, and was crammed with extraordinary portraits. 'and the second was the most exclusive room of all -

'the withdrawing chamber.' you only came into this room, the withdrawing room, if you were in bess's very intimate circle, you were a very close friend. this was the holy of holies of the house. so we've literally withdrawn from the common herd into the withdrawing room, and the withdrawing room over time will lose its "with", - and it will just become the "drawing room".- absolutely. what intrigues me about rooms like this, are all the very formal rules of behaviour and hierarchy that you can read about in courtesy books from the 16th and 17th centuries.

like - the more important person gets the better chair, and the less important person gets the worse chair. the more important person sits near the fire, the next person sits a little bit further away, and so on and so on and so on. and i've even read that if there's a portrait of an important person - on the wall, you can't even turn your back to it.- oh, really? that really is something, isn't it! 'with their progression of hierarchical rooms, elizabethan 'houses were seen as microcosms of society at large,

'in which everybody had their rightful place. 'yet bess of hardwick hadn't been born into her high position - 'she'd risen there through a series of judicious marriages.' the big thing about elizabethan england was there was the opportunity for people to rise. - it was just starting to change, and become... - and here is the person who did it. she started from fairly low down the pecking order, and landed up at the very pinnacle. do you know horace walpole's famous poem about bess? i think it's a wonderful poem. absolutely gorgeous. it goes, "four times the bridal bed she warmed,

"and each time so well performed, "that when death spoiled each husband's billing, "he left the widow every shilling." and it's true! that's the amazing thing, it is true. i think if bess were alive today, she would be a very clever footballer's wife, and she would move her way through a whole succession of men, get money off each one, and then she'd build - a footballer's mansion like this with gold taps, don't you think? - absolutely - that's her! the story of the living room so far has been a real story about class and hierarchy,

which is much more rigidly defined in the past than it is today. the type of decoration you had in your living room - in fact even the type of clothes you wore - were very strictly controlled by your rank in society. i like this map of england from 1610. and it shows the whole country, but what's really great about it is that it shows the classes of society as well. here are the nobleman, and woman. here are the gentleman, and woman. here are the citizens...and down here are the country people.

so we've seen the living rooms of noble people, they are luxurious palaces of the aristocracy - and we've also seen the houses of country people but they didn't really have living rooms, because they didn't have any leisure time to relax. the places where they lived were also their places of work. it's this rank here that i'm interested in for the next 100 years of history, the citizens - the future belongs to them.

over the course of the 17th century, they're going to get the leisure time and the money to start to want to recreate the living rooms of the aristocracy. 'and one of the first status symbols that would filter down the social scale, was glass. 'as elizabethan towns grew into the cities of the 17th century, 'improved glass-making techniques 'meant cheaper glass flooded the market. 'in the 17th century the sash window was invented, 'and would become standard in most homes,

'leading king william iii to have a flash of inspiration.' 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30... i'm assessing the palace for the window tax. it's a new tax that was brought in in 1696 by william iii - who's this gentleman behind me. so your basic house has to pay two shillings a year, but if you've got more than ten windows, you have to pay six shillings a year, if you've got 20 windows it goes up to 10 shillings a year. and every year they sort of nudge up the bands just a little bit more. so by 1709, if you had a 30-window house,

you were paying 30 shillings a year - which is â£2,500. and it's a tax on light, essentially. the more light you let into your house, the more you've got to pay. i call that "daylight robbery". 'the king, of course, didn't pay a penny for his palace of 200 windows, 'but by the 1740s it was easy to assess the influence of his tax on the urban landscape.' so what effect did this tax have on normal people's houses? it explains why you get these weird blocked-up windows in georgian cities. in 1747 they changed the rules about window tax, and if you had

more than ten windows, you had to pay sixpence a window from that point on. so anyone with more than ten windows very cleverly blocked a couple up! so here, this family have clearly gone from having 11 windows down to nine, and this gets them in under the band. and that is saving them the equivalent of several hundred pounds a year. 'despite window tax, the middle classes in georgian england 'were considerably better off than they ever had been.

'with the expansion of british colonies abroad, and victorious wars 'against the dutch and the french, 'by the 18th century, britain had established itself 'as the greatest trading nation on earth. 'now, a new, wealthy merchant class had money to burn 'on luxury items for their homes. 'and they would transform the elite withdrawing rooms of the past 'into the newly prosperous drawing rooms of georgian england.' this is an entirely new sort of drawing room.

it's the georgian urban middle-class living room. and if you look at it, you might think, "ooh, it's terribly lavish and luxurious," but this is what the 18th century brought - luxury for people who weren't aristocrats. this is the first floor of the house, what's known as the piano nobile, and this is a noble room. it's very decorative, it's feminine in character, it's a place where ladies would entertain each other. and you can sense from this drawing room that the family who lived here have lots of friends in the neighbourhood,

and that they've been sucked into the new georgian craze for having parties and for entertainment. i really like the way all those chairs are backed up against the wall there, so they can be drawn forward when the guests arrive. 'and the phenomenon that would have the greatest social impact 'on the drawing room, was the tea party. 'i've dressed up to have one of my own - my guests are 'the historian amanda vickery, and tea historian jane pettigrew.' the fact that the lady of the house did all this in the drawing room

was because the tea was so expensive. you never let your servants make the tea, handle the tea, store the tea, it was always kept in the room where you drank it. so... - how long are we going to leave it? - well, about three minutes, i think. 'taking tea was such an important indicator of gentility, 'that families were now painted in their new drawing rooms 'surrounded by their expensive tea ware.' i think this might be ready. so if we pour it into the little bowls...

'alongside tea urns and silver spoons 'came sugar tongs, and dainty chinese teacups with no handles.' - this is a bit like drug paraphernalia, isn't it?- yes. special equipment for the heating and preparing... but isn't this where the joy of it lies? the lady of the house is individually serving her guests, so it's a gesture of hospitality. 'dressed in one's finest clothes in the best room of the house, 'the taking of tea became governed by a complex code of etiquette.'

i wanted to ask you... in paintings i've seen people holding - i don't know if i can manage it - holding it rather like that... because these are such tiny bowls, this is where the pinkie started coming out, which today is really not very acceptable. and then some ladies would hold it like this, rather delicately. yeah - in the paintings i've seen... what this allowed was, for you to show off the fine white skin of your forearm, against the fine porcelain of the chinese bowl. and really just saying, "look - i'm so wealthy that i'm not having to scrub fenders and black the stove."

- am i holding that correctly? - that looks fine. i like the little finger out. they laugh don't make me laugh, or there'll be an accident. that was worth the wait! can i ask what influence all this new hot drink, tea business had on the use of the drawing room in the house? as people went out visiting more and more in the georgian period, during the afternoon or after dinner, this would be the room where it would happen.

there are endless references in diaries about people dropping round to visit and supping tea, taking tea, and then going off for a walk or going on to the next person to visit, so it seemed to be an endless round of tea drinking going on. these are the props which allow you to show off your polite manners - can you manage the gestures, can you manage all the equipment? and i suppose the drawing room then is a kind of stage set, really, for the exhibition of your gentility. 'swathed in silk dresses, drinking expensive tea 'and warmed by a large coal fire,

'the tea party was an expensive show to run. 'and it was made even more so by additional taxes 'on coal, on glass, on mirrors, 'that made the living room the most taxed room in the house. 'the most expensive tax of all was on beeswax candles, favoured 'in the drawing rooms of the genteel as they didn't smoke or smell 'like the tallow candles of the poor.' so the tea party's over and the guests have gone, and like a good georgian hostess i've been desperately blowing out candles.

they're expensive, and also they're heavily taxed. so i'm going to spend the rest of the evening burning as little candle as i possibly can - that's how i normally live my life when the guests aren't here. but i've got lots of devices to help me in the georgian drawing room. the carving around the door frames is gilded. there are mirrors, there are silver candlesticks, brass doorknobs... even little details like dining plates with gold rims. these are devices to sparkle, and to enhance the light that is available. and in fact, look at my dress - it's all made out of sparkly silver.

i am a living, breathing, walking human silver candlestick. 'the 18th century wasn't just a boom time for the middle classes, 'it also saw an explosion in the building of country houses by the super-rich, and these houses 'would eventually have an impact on everybody's living rooms. 'i've come to one of the grandest houses of them all, 'kedleston hall in derbyshire, built by the tory landowner sir nathaniel curzon in 1758. 'i'm being taken round by architectural historian richard hewlings.' richard, i want to see a really grand georgian house. i think i've come to the right place. why did they go over the top and build what dr johnson called a "town hall"?

the house was intended for display, undoubtedly. an awful lot of the spaces inside it are completely useless. they're just there to be very, very large and very, very expensive and very, very impressive. 'day to day, the family lived in an entirely separate wing. 'the main house was built purely for show, as a giant suite of reception rooms for entertaining. 'as well as party guests, kedleston also received hordes of a very new kind of visitor.' people were quite often passing their time visiting places like this in the 18th century, weren't they? yes, they would give a small tip to a housekeeper or some other senior servant

who would actually take them round and show them the treasures. ok, come on, let's go in, have a look. mind the ice on the steps. 'just like today, in the 18th century visiting country houses 'was the middle classes' second-favourite hobby after gardening, 'and tourists to kedleston were so numerous that its housekeeper, 'mrs garnett, even printed her own guidebook.' so we're now starting out on mrs garnett's tour, and this is the music room, and what we're supposed to be doing here is admiring the pictures.

'kedleston hall became the 18th century's ideal house, 'and by admiring the paintings, the fixtures, the fittings and the proportions of its rooms, 'visitors could feel a bit of the owner's culture and knowledge rubbing off on them. 'unlike the palaces of the past, 'kedleston was not designed as a suite of increasingly exclusive living rooms, 'but rather as an open circuit, through which everyone could wander.' well, this is quite something, isn't it? why on earth would you build a room like this in your house? well, i suppose partly to demonstrate that you have the space to enclose,

but it also of course displays his learning, because everything is taken from ancient rome. - and it echoes like a temple, too, doesn't it? it's so un-domestic.- yeah. the whole point of the grand circuit in these georgian houses is to fill it up with people in a great big party situation, isn't it? they're not so much a suite of rooms with different purposes any more. they're a bit like just an enormous nightclub. and this sprung floor was where they would be doing their dancing? - they would have been doing their rout.- let's take to the floor, then.

i don't think i can do this, lucy! - you can!- i can't! i can't! - that's the worst dancing i've ever seen!- that's not dancing! the room does make you want to spin, though, doesn't it, like a spinning top? you get giddy just looking at it. 'by the 18th century, a new concept called "taste" had arrived. 'now the middle classes were established in the market for luxury, 'it was "taste" that set apart 'those with knowledge of the rules of architecture and interior design

'from the vulgar nouveaux riches.' we'll go to the very sober and masculine library next. this is a bit of a contrast, isn't it? everywhere you look there's some expensive material. the chimneypiece is made of white marble, and there are these unbelievably expensive sofas, carved with mermaids and tritons and gilded. 'originally an arabian piece of furniture called a "suffah", 'sofas became fashionable in the 18th century

'thanks to architects like robert adam, 'and these are among georgian england's finest.' you can see that you can't lean back. you can imagine ladies perched on the front. is that correct? well, they are relatively informal. if you consider that, in the 17th century, most people sat on stools. only the grandest would have a chair with a back to it. and the idea of two people sitting on the same seat is quite inconceivable in 17th-century terms. actually having a chair that is capable of taking more than one person, it takes us into a much more informal age. it takes us into the 18th century.

'and alongside the sofas were neoclassical incense burners, 'solid gold fixtures and fittings and a crystal chandelier 'that was so expensive to light 'that it was only used on very special occasions.' so what does all this mean for normal people in georgian england, people who don't live in palaces? well, if they were coming round and doing the tour with mrs garnett, the housekeeper, they could be going, "hm, i could get a bit of this at home. i fancy that wallpaper. "i fancy those curtains." and it is true that designers like robert adam are now producing these catalogues. they include enormous grand designs like whole houses

or fishing pavilions, but if you didn't have that sort of money you could get adam style through your clock or maybe a plaster decoration for your ceiling. so this is how aristocratic style filters down in georgian england to the masses. it becomes mass-market. and adam and the other architects of the day are very interesting in that they create brands for themselves. they don't just produce buildings any more. they produce entire, idealistic interiors. they're the ideal homes of georgian england.

and these ideal homes sparked off a revolution in decor. between 1750 and 1850, britain established itself not only as the leader of world trade, but as the manufacturing workshop of the world. producing everything from cotton textiles and cheap china to cast-iron fire surrounds and machine-made furniture, britain's abundance of household goods would transform the living room. if you think about a victorian living room, what probably comes to mind is the stereotypical parlour crammed full of knick-knacks.

the word "parlour" is much older, it takes its name from the art of conversation, to "parler" in french. by the 19th century, though, these rooms were places of display for showing who you were through carefully selected ornaments, artworks, things. it's an age of mass production when you could express your personality through the things you had in your sitting room, and this was a new phenomenon, because in the 16th century art objects were the preserve of the very, very rich, like bess of hardwick. in the 18th century, we began to see taste appearing at a lower level in society. by the 19th century, it's almost a human right to express yourself through your consumer goods.

so to see how georgian taste has turned into the victorian passion for knick-knacks i've come to a small museum in london to meet its curator, david milne, and to help him dust the myriad of objects filling every inch of the front room. so, david, tell me about your ornaments here. as you can see, we have a great collection of everything made in 19th century industrial england. victorian household advice is that it would take a brisk girl three hours to dust the front room. - do you spend that long doing it?- no. - you're not a brisk girl, obviously. - no, i'm not.

'an overdecorated parlour was a way of individualising your home 'among the identical suburban terraces being built all over the land. 'and period household manuals, by gurus like mrs panton, 'offered endless advice on how to embellish your living room with flemish cups, 'royal memorabilia, - 'fake singing birds...' - bird sings '..and christmas scenes in glass jars. 'it's clear that there are now more possessions in one victorian room 'than in the entire tudor house.'

david, come on, reveal the truth, would you like to live in this room? no. - why not?- it's just too...crazy. and, you know, you spend too much time in this room and it comes down on you. - it's oppressive, isn't it? - yeah.- a bit sinister. yeah, everything's dark and overpowering and there are hundreds of things everywhere. 'now, not only was the parlour to be filled with one's best things, 'it was also a sacred place, to be reserved for one's best behaviour.' this is very interesting. mrs panton tells us that the victorian parlour

has a moral purpose in the household. she says that in here fine manners are a necessity, because this room holds our dearest treasures. you see little of the seamy side of life in here. she says that even when a husband and wife are alone in the parlour, they've still got to behave well. no pipe, no slippers, and this will reinforce the mutual respect for each other they have, she says. and this is a surer means of happiness than anything else she knows. alongside fine manners and fine things, the industrial age also saw the arrival of gas lighting. discovered in the late 17th century as a by-product of burning coal,

it wasn't till the 19th century that gas was first used for lighting, not in the home, though, but on london's streets. 1,600 working gaslights still exist in london today, so i've come to st john's, smith square, to meet phil banner, one of the last lamplighters left. - 47 years of british gas.- 42. 42. so you're doing good. 'gas lighting was first demonstrated in london on pall mall 'by the german businessman frederick winsor in 1807

'and it was such a sensation that people flocked to see it at work.' - there it goes.- very nice, isn't it? - it's a lovely golden glow, isn't it? - very soothing. what do you think people thought when this miraculous new light appeared? it was received with mixed feelings. some people thought it was a great invention, but other people thought it was messing about with nature, because it should be light in the day, and dark at night. - and this is interfering... - with nature. i suppose it interfered with certain people's business as well.

oh yes! there's talk of the ladies of the night, shall we say, it was lighting the areas they used to work and they didn't... they thought it was bad for business having too much light? how many lamps, then, were there all over london? one time, there was about 60,000. - and someone went round and turned them all on every night?- yeah. 'as evening fell, an army of lamplighters headed out to light every lamp by hand, 'with the same equipment as i'm using now.' - so how does this torch work? - this is a lamplighter's torch,

and if you push the lamp in through the bottom of the lamp, then squeeze the bulb... you need a good squeeze to get the air to go up through the pole to make the flame come out the top so you can light the lamp. come on, come on! - almost.- ooh! come on!- keep going. - and on the light comes. - i have the magic touch. - you have the magic touch. well done! - thank you. - only 59,999 lamps to go.- that's right, it might take us all night.

by the time we get to the last one, we'll be turning off the first one. let's carry on. by the mid 19th century, a new network of gas pipes running directly into the house was supplying london's homes. the fireplace was still the centre of the parlour, but gas allowed householders to supplement their fire light, candles and oil lamps for the first time. illuminated air was what they called gas lighting when it first appeared in london, and you can see why. it must have been magical to see the air bursting into flame.

this is quite an early gas fitting, the pipe goes straight into a naked flame, and it's a less friendly light, i think, than oil. it's little colder, and it has many other disadvantages, although it's cheap and good. it's so bright in fact that, when it first appeared, people thought that it would damage their optic nerves and it could explode and it was incredibly dirty, sooty stuff, so it sort of destroyed your living room, and that's one explanation for these deep victorian colours that you get. 18th-century bright colours become rich reds and greens and things that just won't show the soot as much,

and it also sucks oxygen out of the atmosphere. so when you hear about all these victorian ladies fainting the whole time, yes, partly it was corsets, but it was partly because the oxygen from their room had been burnt by the gas lighting. in comparison to the rush lights of the 16th century, and the highly taxed candles of the georgian drawing room, cheap gas would now flood the parlour with light and bring significant changes to how it was used. another huge transformation that gas lighting brought about was that it extended the length of people's evenings.

can you imagine what a change that must have been to be able to stay up late and have loads of light? in fact, they had to invent new ways of passing the time and household manuals now have chapters on topics like "recreations for a long winter evening" and ladies are advised to make useful things out of fancywork that they can sell to each other at bazaars, like, i don't know, albums and pokerwork and collage fire screens. as the middle classes were filling their parlours with their ornaments, an alternative movement soon emerged to build a very new,

or very old, kind of house. this is wightwick manor in wolverhampton and guiding me round is the writer adrian tinniswood. adrian, you could be forgiven for thinking that this house had been here since tudor times, right? it's a perfect piece of merry england, isn't it? just for a minute, it fools you, i think. but this was built in queen victoria's golden jubilee, 1887. 'built by the industrialist theodor mander, 'it's the ultimate house of the arts and crafts movement.

'its followers rejected the machine made designs of the industrial age 'and urged a return to the hand crafted glories of the past.' there's that wonderful irony that so many people of mander's class had that he's made his money from industry and now he rejects industry and the industrial revolution. so this is mr mander's drawing room, and what i think is fascinating about this house is the fact that we can pinpoint the exact moment at which samuel mander had the inspiration, can't we? exactly, yes. 1884, wolverhampton, and a lecture on the house beautiful by oscar wilde.

railing against the vulgarity of the victorian home, oscar wilde urged that taste should return to public life. taking his cue from the designer william morris, wilde's house beautiful didn't need a profusion of fake birds and glass jars, but instead just a few carefully chosen objects made by hand. well, i've got a lot sympathy for his views, which are that things should be hand crafted, craftspeople should take pride in their labour, but ironically, all of his products were jolly expensive, weren't they? yes, that is the irony.

you couldn't afford this kind of stuff if you were a labourer. morris and his crowd are socialists and yet they're producing material that only rich people can afford. but he never actually came here, did he? no, morris, although he was an interior decorator, he also ran a very profitable mail-order business. so the manders could just have ordered up textiles or chairs or carpets or whatever. i find it quite extraordinary that you could do that

and this whole house beautiful concept is about putting thought and effort into your house, and yet, you could get it through the post. 'but the drawing room was not the only living room in the house, 'for the victorian rich now had a multiplicity of living spaces 'to be used for different purposes, 'by different members of the family, at different times of the day.' - so this is living-room-tastic, isn't it? what's that one?- the library. 'alongside the library were inglenooks for writing letters, 'morning rooms for reading the newspapers,

'there were games rooms for smoking and billiards.' this is where the men would have hung out. 'and the largest room of all 'was the great centrepiece of the house, the great parlour.' the quintessential late victorian interior. it's not called the great hall, you call it the... the great parlour. it's a sort of end of the century living hall. but it's modelled on great halls of medieval england. - it's the end of the road for the great hall, isn't it?- you could even argue it's the apotheosis.

it's comfortable great hall, which is quite an achievement. what's interesting is that now the living room has really sort of come of age, if you like, because the great hall, that we are in, is only one of many different living rooms in this house and the act of being in a living room has become specialised. the guys hang out in the billiard room, or the library, the women in sort of the morning room or the drawing room and this great parlour becomes a sort of neutral zone. it becomes a sort of space where they can spend time together. don't you think though that its chief function is, as we just did, coming into the house to say "wow!"

oh yeah, it's a status claim apart from anything else. this is the room you walk into and say, "isn't this just beautiful?!" and come on, isn't it?! it just blows you away. and it wasn't just the great halls of victorian industrialists that harked back to the medieval age. at the back to backs in birmingham, a series of 19th-century workers' houses, whole families still played out their lives in one room. it's a real extreme contrast. the aristocracy at this time

have got more different types of living room than ever before, or ever since in fact. but at the same time, most people, most working people were still living in a way that's much more familiar from medieval times. they were still having just one space, in this case for nine people, and they were doing their cooking, their entertainment and they were even working all in this one single space. but even here,

this multi-functional front room was still a room for best. warmed by the fire from the range and equipped with the latest gaslights, it was the only room in the house to have wallpaper and a smattering of best things. although this is quite a small and humble room, in some ways, the people living here were definitely proud of it and it's a room to show off to visitors. there are lots of little touches here, like the super-white net curtains and the fringe on the fireplace

and the staffordshire ornaments. in fact, we know that the houses with the bay windows cost more to rent than the ones without because these bay windows functioned as a sort of shop window for your housekeeping and you could put your ornaments there. there's a great brummie expression - kippers for curtains. everybody in this court had kippers for curtains and that means that they would eat cheap kippers in order to be able to afford their more expensive fancy curtains.

the industrial revolution might have made technology and taste available to everybody in theory, but it didn't bring equal quality of life. the excessive number of living rooms in the upper class home reveals the amount of leisure time rich people had to fill with an infinite number of past times. the parlour was the middle-class housewife's domain, where husbands and wives might spend their evenings together. and for working people, hard at it 16 hours a day, six days a week, any enjoyment of their front room was limited to family mealtimes. but by the turn of the 20th century,

in new-built streets like this one, the living room would experience its greatest transformation yet. there were two reasons for it. first was the growth of leisure time. the working week shrank down to 40 hours in the 1900s. the second reason was the arrival of electricity. electricity had been discovered in the 18th century, but it wasn't until the invention of the light bulb in 1878 that it turned from being a scientific curiosity into a practical application for the home. this sudden availability of cheap, clean light

would be the first step in transforming the victorian living room into a recognisably modern space. the first light bulbs were seemingly miraculous objects that came in all shapes, colours and sizes. to see some of these novelties at work, i've come to the largest, private collection of light bulbs in the world in a small house in wimbledon owned, rather appropriately, by a man called ray. i've never seen so many light bulbs! 'for the pioneering homeowner, the first thing to do was to convert one's gas fittings.'

this is a standard wall bracket. it's an 1880s' bracket, and it would have had a gas jet. there's a little jet, you see? you take the gas burner out, you screw in... the english lamp holder - the tapered end fits into the gas fitting. and this wire runs off to...? well, that would run off to the mains, yes. and then it should light up.

it all looks a little bit heath robinson. - hey, there we go. - that's on 20 volts. - this is pioneering home electricity? - this is a real pioneer, yes. - wow, so only the most enthusiastic people had these.- absolutely! so i'm thinking myself into the mind now of a victorian person seeing that happening for the first time. it must have been extraordinary. yes. despite this extraordinary breakthrough, electric light could only be afforded by the very rich.

a single bulb cost more than a week's wages and power was only available from private, domestic generators. it was when local power stations serving communities began to appear that electricity became available to the masses. this is a special light bulb made for edward vii's coronation in 1902. that's quite something, isn't it? - can i turn it on?- you may, yes. with pleasure. are you going to turn the light off to better see it?

there he goes, he's glowing at us. 108 years old...this light bulb. that's quite something. by the 1920s, as the infrastructure improved, the benefits of electric light would finally be seen further down the social scale. what do you think the impact was? the biggest problem was could they afford to change over? it was a big investment changing over from one to the other.

in modern terms, it doesn't seem much. - i understand you could get your house wired up in the 1920s for about â£25.- mm-hm. but when you are earning 25 shillings - â£1.25 in modern terms - a week, it's... - it's a major investment. - it's a major thing, yes. for many householders it wasn't just the cost of converting from gas that made them hold back, there were still problems with the electricity supply. in the early days of electricity,

everybody who had it had to have their own generator in their house. as time went on, towns began to get their own power stations, but the problem was they all produced different currents, different voltages and that meant that anybody producing electrical goods had to customise their products to suit different areas. so you get chaos really. you get all these different kinds of plugs, sockets and switches appearing on the market. it's very difficult to develop a national product. it was the creation of the national grid in 1934 that changed everything.

as electric power was centralised and pylons sprung up, living rooms could finally be wired up to a single national network at cheaper cost. for the first time, the national grid standardised the voltage, so it's the same across the whole country. so now you could sell the same lamp to the whole nation. all these new electrical gadgets just flooded onto the market and people began to buy electric hoovers, electric fans, electric fires

and most important of all, the radio. - well, what do you think of it?- i think it's absolutely great.- listen. given pride of place next to the fire, the radio now became the focus of the living room. its role would take on an increasing importance as britain entered world war ii. bonding communities together behind the blackout blinds, the wireless became a vital weapon both in relaying information and improving national morale. but the radio's real legacy was to transform the room for best into the everyday family room across all the classes for the first time. by the '50s, increasing prosperity and leisure time

meant the wireless was now an established feature of every home. i've come to see the living room of '50s collector, joanne massey. the biggest change that occurred in the living room throughout the 20th century was the shift away from creating your own entertainment to being entertained. no-one thought that the radio would catch on - it was a bit like the internet - but its use grew exponentially. after the war, it was knocked off its perch by something even better.

and that something was the tv. the bbc had begun to transmit a television service in 1936, but it wasn't until the coronation in 1953 that it really took off. with so few households owning a set, neighbours crowded into each other's living rooms to watch it. you would have had a houseful if you had a telly at that time and the coronation was on. you would have had everybody round here. i've heard of cases of tv envy and people installing an aerial even if they couldn't afford the actual set, so the neighbours would think that they had one.

they would have been disappointed if they had gone round to their house to watch the coronation. in order to see what programmes were available on coronation day, i've brought along the original radio times. here is the evening of coronation day. here in this little box is the television. that's the only room on the page it gets. - mainly it's the radio.- winston churchill is going to be on tv. broadcasts from downing street. oh, he's sound only! then there's the weather forecast, sound only, no pictures.

and it's called the radio times because the bbc, bless them, didn't think that it should be called the radio and tv times in case tv didn't catch on. how do you think the tv changed the living room in the 1950s? well, i think it changed the layout of the furniture. before, chairs were circled and pointing at the fireplace as the centre of attention, and, all of a sudden, you had a new device in the room and the chairs had to be moved round to face that. by 1954, the number of tv licences had risen from 300,000 to over three million and this explosion in television ownership was mostly down to one thing - hire purchase.

'hire purchase is one of the greatest assets of the modern community. 'it enables us to fill our homes with beautiful things we could never otherwise afford. 'it raises our standard of living.' when the laws limiting credit were relaxed, companies showered a willing public with catalogues. we've got here a kays catalogue... it's not kays - it's kays continuous credit catalogue. - it is indeed and it's 1955.- and this is how people could aspire to getting a living room like yours. it says here, "you too can start now to get everything for yourself, "the home and family, for only a few shillings a week." so you buy now, pay later.

so 1954 is a big year of change. it's the end of rationing and it's the start of credit. you're going from everything from clothes, ladies clothes, gents clothes, shoes, handbags, nighties, underwear. and you can also get a three-piece suite out of this. and carpets, lights. basically, i want to send for everything in this catalogue, but i don't think i can. consumer credit was paving the way for a rash of home improvements. the 1960s also saw a dramatic rise in home ownership as young couples moved out of their family homes. 'mr and mrs earnshaw, newly married, a new flat to furnish,

'but only â£30 to do it with.' responding to this generation's lack of funds, a new phrase was coined - do it yourself. i get a certain amount of satisfaction out of doing it myself. it's much easier to do it yourself. we find we can be a little more individual if we do it ourselves. and the man who brought diy to the masses was barry bucknell, the most popular man on 1960s' television. for this week, one or two jobs that you might have to do on doors. i don't know whether you've got a problem like this - a rather ugly, old panelled door.

it's one that can be solved quite simply. you can make it look like this. over 39 programmes of bucknell's house, barry transformed a crumbling victorian terrace, ripping out its period features and replacing them with hardboard and electric fires. today, of course, we would value and keep the very features that barry was destroying. the living room has come on a long journey, even since the 1960s. while it still says a lot about your taste and social class,

it's now also a showcase for modern technology, from flat screen tvs and hi-fis to the latest computer games. and today, it's one of the most flexible rooms in the house. throughout its long history, the living room has had many different incarnations. it's been the great hall, the withdrawing chamber, the parlour. now it's the lounge - a return to its multipurpose roots. these rooms are still used partly for relaxation,

partly for entertaining guests and being entertained. the focus of the living room was always the hearth, now it's the television. but despite the fact that we live in centrally heated homes, we still have a deep, emotional connection with the open fire just like our ancestors. wow! next time, the bathroom. from having a victorian upper-class lady's bath, to bathing georgian style in the open sea.

i'll be exploring the room with the most complicated history in the house. so in the victorian age, poo becomes taboo.

Home Zone Furniture

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