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Thread: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

  1. #1
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    Default Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Watched a bit of QE2's arrangements in London. I was as much impressed with the aisled frame of the roof as the event.

    westminster great hall roof pics

    (The Brit's certainly do ceremonial bling well though).


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    The largest medieval timber roof in Europe.

    https://www.parliament.uk/about/livi...er-beam-roof-/
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    I was as much impressed with the aisled frame of the roof as the event.
    Aisled frame? It's usually described as hammer-beam framing (no aisles).

    176 tons of lead on the roof!

    An amazing masterwork.
    Last edited by J P; 09-14-2022 at 08:40 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    If I were a betting man I would make a claim on "who" actually built that...

    "However actual ("de facto") slavery continued in Britain with ten to fourteen thousand slaves in England and Wales, who were mostly domestic servants. When slaves were brought in from the colonies they had to sign waivers that made them indentured servants while in Britain. Most modern historians generally agree that slavery continued in Britain into the late 18th century, finally disappearing around 1800."

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Britain

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    I don't think England had much in the way of colonies in 1397, when that roof was built, or many slaves either.
    Slaves are most unlikely to have been skilled carpenters. There were fairly rigid guilds that controlled membership of such crafts, with lengthy apprenticeships.

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    From the wiki:

    Some historians, like John Gillingham, have asserted that by about 1200, the institution of slavery was largely non-existent in the British Isles .[22]Other academics such as Spicksley (2017) have argued that forms of slavery did in fact continue in England between the 12th and 17th centuries, but under other terms such as 'serfs', 'villeins' and 'bondsmen'.[26] The carrying away of over a thousand children from Wales to be 'servants' is recorded as taking place in 1401.[27]

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    But unlikely to be skilled carpenters.
    Lay off your hobby-horse.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Testy today?

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Nah, but you seem to resent criticism.

    ETA: as an aside, the wages for carpenters in the second half of the 14th century seen to be as follows:

    Carpenter's apprentice: 9.23 pence per week
    Carpenter: 18.46 pence per week
    Master carpenter: 24.62 pence per week
    No doubt Hugh Herland, the master carpenter for the Westminster roof, got more than this.
    No mention of slaves!

    So, with regard to your bet, if you can provide proof that slave labour was used in the construction of the roof of Westminster Hall, I will happily donate 50 to the charity of your choice.
    Otherwise, as the saying goes, put up or shut up.

    Phil
    RIBA (retired), conservation Architect (mainly medieval timber frames), MA Historical Archaeology.
    Last edited by birlinn; 09-14-2022 at 12:21 PM.

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Magnificent.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    It is indeed a lovely structure

    It's going to be tricky finding payroll stubs...

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    ..

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    (I think it is a very fine line between slave and "indentured servant"

    My understanding of the Carpenters guild (which is limited to reading material) is that "apprentices" were indentured, working with no payment for the master who provided food, clothing, shelter and training.

    "No payment for seven years"? So only temporary slaves?

    It is semantics

    How about we each give $25 to our favorite charity in the interest of all those long departed indentured servants?

    (My family immigrated here bringing with them an indentured servant)

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Birlinn has just cited the average pay of carpenters’ apprentices!

    I recall, but cannot put my hand on, an Elizabethan case in which the Russian Ambassador was seen beating his servant.

    The Ambassador was rebuked and taken before the Magistrates, who told him that he must not beat a man like that. The Ambassador replied that the man was his serf, therefore his property, and he could do as he liked with him.

    The Magistrates referred the matter to the Court of Queen’s Bench who found against the ambassador on the grounds that slavery was unknown in England. This was 270 years before Somerset’s Case.
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    From the wiki:

    Some historians, like John Gillingham, have asserted that by about 1200, the institution of slavery was largely non-existent in the British Isles .[22]Other academics such as Spicksley (2017) have argued that forms of slavery did in fact continue in England between the 12th and 17th centuries, but under other terms such as 'serfs', 'villeins' and 'bondsmen'.[26] The carrying away of over a thousand children from Wales to be 'servants' is recorded as taking place in 1401.[27]
    Spicksley and co seem to be going against received wisdom that argues that the various plagues killed so many villagers that it created a wage economy and freed the serfs from their bondage. Bonded servants did continue as a criminal punishment, but for a fixed term of servitude. That is how the Colonies in the Americas were provided with their workforce until the war of independence.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Getting back to the Cathedral roof construction, I am again reminded of Ken Follet's historical novel about the building of the great cathedrals, The Pillars of the Earth. I'd be interested in reading the opinions of it's historical accuracy or authenticity in regard to both the slave versus skilled tradesman issue and the technical aspects of things like getting those massive timbers up and a hundred plus tons of lead in place so it doesn't fall down in just a few centuries. Just looking at Wiki about the book, I see there was apparently a TV series based on it, back a few years.


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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Westminster Hall and the adjoining cloister were the only structures to have survived the fire of 1834.
    The cloister provided inspiration and a model for Barry and Pugin who both designed the current buildings, recreating the detailed decorations of the cloister.


    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    It is indeed a lovely structure

    It's going to be tricky finding payroll stubs...
    The payroll stubs do sometimes turn up.

    The accounts for Orford Castle, built for Henry II between 1164 and 1173, survive. It cost 1,413..0s..0d.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orford_Castle
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 09-14-2022 at 03:42 PM.
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    They did get it wrong sometimes. St Albans, in Hertfordshire, fell down at one point.

    Just looked, a partial collapse in 1323. There were a few more later.
    Last edited by Andrew2; 09-15-2022 at 01:44 AM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Someone skimming the contract Andrew?

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    A word on medieval carpentry.

    This is a recognised field of study. Medieval carpentry was far more advanced than most people realise. Churches and castles were stone built where possible; most houses and industrial and agricultural buildings were timber framed using quite intricate joints and scarphs. It was not unusual for a timber framed house to be taken down, moved to a new location, and re-erected. It was also quite common for timber frames to be made and fitted together near the source of the timber, then dismantled and moved as a kit of parts to the site for final erection. This was done with the Westminster Hall roof. When large timbers had to be moved by ox cart over unmade roads it made sense to move no more weight than necessary.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cressing_Temple
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Apprentices were taken on after payment by the parents, it was an honoured roll to get an apprenticeship. It led to good pay and a career. It meant in future you wouldn't be on starvation labourers wages..
    Also A Large proportion of apprentices were their own children, sons follow father in the business, paperwork for their indentureship would exist to prove they did their apprenticship.. but pocket money would be doled out by Dad when needed or deserved..
    Last edited by The Q; 09-15-2022 at 05:28 AM.
    Just an amateur bodging away..

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    A word on medieval carpentry.

    This is a recognised field of study. Medieval carpentry was far more advanced than most people realise. Churches and castles were stone built where possible; most houses and industrial and agricultural buildings were timber framed using quite intricate joints and scarphs. It was not unusual for a timber framed house to be taken down, moved to a new location, and re-erected. It was also quite common for timber frames to be made and fitted together near the source of the timber, then dismantled and moved as a kit of parts to the site for final erection. This was done with the Westminster Hall roof. When large timbers had to be moved by ox cart over unmade roads it made sense to move no more weight than necessary.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cressing_Temple
    and some of these building have been taken down and moved again..
    https://www.wealddown.co.uk/discover/buildings/
    Just an amateur bodging away..

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    At the seige of Bothwell Castle in 1301, English carpenters stripped timbers from buildings in Glasgow, ten miles away, and used them to build The Belfrey, a wheeled siege tower over 30m tall. It's presumed that The Belfrey was 'kit built' and transported by road in sections.

    Andy
    "In case of fire ring Fellside 75..."

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    A young building, Dragon Hall built 1427.
    dragon-hall-garden.jpg
    great-hall.jpg
    and why it's called dragon Hall.

    the-dragon.jpg
    Built for Robert Toppes 1400-1467, he was an importer / exporter of cloth.. (the river that is part of the Port of Norwich is behind the building) it was his home and showrooms..
    Just an amateur bodging away..

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    The timber for the Westminster roof was brought from the Royal wood at Petley, near Battle in Sussex, a distance of some 60 miles. It would certainly have been hewn there; medieval timber frames were worked from green unseasoned timber, trial assembled frame by frame, and provided with suitable carpenter's marks to aid site erection.
    No doubt the master carpenter, Hugh Herland, would have chosen suitable trees to be felled.
    The Clerk of Works, John Gedny, had received authorisation in 1393 to source the timber from Petley. His predecessor, retiring in 1391, was no other than a certain Geoffrey Chaucer.
    The basic roof structure, albeit with a temporary covering, was completed in time for the coronation of Queen Isabella on the 7th January 1397.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    I was on that roof observing some repair work about 25 years ago.

    At the time I had no appreciation of the singularity of that experience. Just another old building.
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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Someone skimming the contract Andrew?
    More likely lack of structural knowledge. Some of the later crumblings were poor upkeep and even an earthquake.

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    Quote Originally Posted by Figment View Post
    I was on that roof observing some repair work about 25 years ago.

    At the time I had no appreciation of the singularity of that experience. Just another old building.
    was this during your 'post modern' phase?
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Roof of Westminster Great Hall.

    I did a Historic Preservation minor with my B.Arch.
    "Visionary" is he who in every egg sees a carbonara.

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