The hammer-beam roof: tradition, innovation and the carpenter's art in late medieval England

Beech, Robert (2015). The hammer-beam roof: tradition, innovation and the carpenter's art in late medieval England. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis is about late medieval carpenters, their techniques and their art, and about the structure that became the fusion of their technical virtuosity and artistic creativity: the hammer-beam roof. The structural nature and origin of the hammer-beam roof is discussed, and it is argued that, although invented in the late thirteenth century, during the fourteenth century the hammer-beam roof became a developmental dead-end. In the early fifteenth century the hammer-beam roof suddenly blossomed into hundreds of structures of great technical proficiency and aesthetic acumen. The thesis assesses the role of the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall as the catalyst to such renewed enthusiasm. This structure is analysed and discussed in detail. Its place in the milieu of late medieval architecture is assessed, and its influence evaluated. That influence took effect mainly in East Anglia. Thus, early fifteenth-century trends in hammer-beam carpentry in the region are isolated and analysed. A typology of is created, from which arise surprising conclusions regarding the differing priorities late-medieval carpenters ascribed to structure, form and ornament. A chapter is also devoted to a critical review of literature pertaining to the topic.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
T Technology > TH Building construction


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