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Timber-framed houses on the Hampshire downlands around Basingstoke

The Hampshire Downs around Basingstoke

 The chalklands of Hampshire form a wide band roughly from east to west across the county. The Early Modern era saw a period of great prosperity in the county’s downlands, particularly during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when the country was still recovering from the Black Death and subsequent epidemics. The population was increasing sharply and inflation was causing a corresponding increase in food prices.

This prosperity was reflected in a surge of building in the rural parishes, where the evidence is still apparent today. Relatively affluent tenant farmers were eager to flaunt their wealth and built fairly expensive houses on their homesteads. Given the absence of stone, the traditional building materials in Hampshire were timber, wattle and daub and thatch, but the quality of the dwellings was such that they survive in large numbers.

Just as present-day house-owners extend and improve their homes, so, in the course of time, did the occupiers of timber-framed buildings. Many of Hampshire’s timber-framed houses have been surveyed, their building dates established (some dendrochronologically) and phases of alteration determined.

This item is particularly concerned with the downland parishes around Basingstoke that have been selected under the Victoria County History revision project.

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