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Alice Dolan

MA work

Title of dissertation: The Decline of the Multifunctional Hall? Material Culture and Social Practice in Kent c. 1660–1750


Narratives of room specialisation based on aristocratic houses have dominated the study of the early modern home. This thesis uses inventories to offer a challenge to these arguments, positing the continued importance of the multifunctional hall as the primary living space in the houses of the Kent middling sorts.


Halls often contained the main hearth and were used for cooking, dining, sociability and leisure. Unusual goods such as looking glasses and books were commonly kept in the multifunctional hall, providing personal comfort.


A new methodology for the use of inventories is proposed based on the exploration of the impact of lifecycle, locality and community on domestic material culture. Chapter One challenges narratives of room specialisation through consideration of room use and comparison with Norwich. Chapter Two considers domestic practice in the hall — particularly domestic sociability, dining and cooking — to challenge ideas of rapid consumer change, with case studies of the use of different types of seating and wooden tableware. Chapter Three is a case study of fishermen in Folkestone, who still had multifunctional halls in the 1740s. The causes were partly architectural; their tenements were clustered in two streets — Fisherman’s Row and East Brook. Local culture was equally important. Domestic practices and relationships with household goods continued through generations.


Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2011

  • Title of dissertation: The Decline of the Multifunctional Hall? Material Culture and Social Practice in Kent c. 1660–1750


    Narratives of room specialisation based on aristocratic houses have dominated the study of the early modern home. This thesis uses inventories to offer a challenge to these arguments, positing the continued importance of the multifunctional hall as the primary living space in the houses of the Kent middling sorts.


    Halls often contained the main hearth and were used for cooking, dining, sociability and leisure. Unusual goods such as looking glasses and books were commonly kept in the multifunctional hall, providing personal comfort.


    A new methodology for the use of inventories is proposed based on the exploration of the impact of lifecycle, locality and community on domestic material culture. Chapter One challenges narratives of room specialisation through consideration of room use and comparison with Norwich. Chapter Two considers domestic practice in the hall — particularly domestic sociability, dining and cooking — to challenge ideas of rapid consumer change, with case studies of the use of different types of seating and wooden tableware. Chapter Three is a case study of fishermen in Folkestone, who still had multifunctional halls in the 1740s. The causes were partly architectural; their tenements were clustered in two streets — Fisherman’s Row and East Brook. Local culture was equally important. Domestic practices and relationships with household goods continued through generations.


  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons), History, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2009
  • Experience

  • Research assistant, Pockets of History Project, London, 2011; Internship (furniture, textiles and fashion), Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2011; Research assistant, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2010; Curatorial internship (word and image), Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2009
  • Awards

  • Winner, Design History Society Postgraduate Essay Prize, 2010; Winner, Gillian Naylor Essay Prize, 2010