Manor-house: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ightham Mote, a 14th century moated manor-house in Kent, England

A manor house or fortified manor-house is a country house, which has historically formed the administrative centre of a manor (see Manorialism), the lowest unit of territorial organization in the feudal system. The term is sometimes applied to country houses which belonged to gentry families, as well as to grand stately homes, particularly as a technical term for minor late medieval fortified country houses intended more for show than for defence.


History and architecture

In general terms, the manor house was the dwelling house, or "capital messuage", of a feudal lord of a manor, which he occupied only on occasional visits if he held many manors. As such it was the place in which sessions of his "court baron", or manor court, were held. Sometimes a steward or seneschal was appointed by the seigneurial lord to oversee and manage his different manorial properties. The day-to-day administration was delegated to a bailiff, or reeve.

Although not typically built with strong fortifications as castles were, many manor-houses were partly fortified: they were enclosed within walls or ditches that often included the farm buildings as well. Arranged for defence against robbers and thieves, it was often surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge, and equipped with small gatehouses and watchtowers; but was not provided with a keep or with large towers or lofty curtain walls so as to withstand a siege. The primary feature of the manor-house was its great hall, to which subsidiary apartments were added as the lessening of feudal warfare permitted more peaceful domestic life.

By the beginning of the 16th century, manor-houses as well as small castles began to acquire the character and amenities of the residences of country gentlemen. This late 16th century transformation produced many of the smaller Renaissance châteaux of France and the numerous country mansions of the Elizabethan and Jacobean styles in England.

Architecture of French manor houses

Château de Trécesson, a 14th century manor-house in Morbihan, Brittany

In France, the terms château or manoir are often used synonymously to describe a French manor-house. Maison-forte is another French word to describe a strongly fortified manor-house, which might include two sets of enclosing walls and a ground-floor hall or salle basse that was used to receive peasants and commoners. The salle basse was also the location of the manor court, with the steward or seigneur's seating location often marked by the presence of a crédence de justice or wall-cupboard (shelves built into the stone walls to hold documents and books associated with administration of the demesne or droit de justice). The seigneur and his family's private chambres were often located off of the upper first-floor hall, and invariably had their own fireplace (with finely decorated chimney-piece)

In addition to having both lower and upper-halls, many French manor-houses also had partly fortified gateways, watchtowers, and enclosing walls that were fitted with arrow or gun loops for added protection. Some larger 16th century manors, such as the Château de Kerjean in Finistère, Brittany, were even outfitted with ditches and fore-works that included gun platforms for cannons. These defensive arrangements allowed maisons-fortes, and rural manors to be safe from a coup de main perpetrated by an armed band as there was so many during the troubled times of the Hundred Years War and the wars of the Holy League; but it was difficult for them to resist a siege undertaken by a regular army equipped with (siege) engines.[1]

Manor houses of Northern Europe


Manors of England

Manors of Northern Germany

Manors of Estonia

Taagepera manor house

Manors of Latvia

Manors of The Netherlands

Manors of Northern Ireland

Manors of Norway

Although Austrått Manor predates recorded history, the current buildings were constructed in 1656.

Manors of Poland

See dwór (manor house).

Manors of Scotland

Manors of Sweden

Manors of Wales

Manor houses of Western Europe

Manors of France

Manor houses of Southern Europe

Manors of Spain

Manors of Portugal

Manor Houses of South Asia

Manors of Sri Lanka

See also

External links


  1. ^ Barbier, Pierre (2005). Le Trégor Historique et Monumental. Saint-Brieuc: La Decouvrance Editions. pp. 419. 

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