A Timeline of Houses

By Tim Lambert

Ancient Houses

20,000 BC People live in caves or in tents made of mammoth skins

6,000 BC People in Catal Huyuk in Turkey live in houses made of mud brick. Walls are plastered and sometimes painted.

2,000 BC Rich people in Iraq live two story houses arranged around a courtyard. Poor people live in one room huts

1,500 BC People in bronze age England live in round huts made of wattle and daub with thatched roofs

400 BC People in Greece live in houses of brick and plaster with tiled roofs

100 AD In Roman Britain rich people live in villas with mosaics, murals on their walls, and glass windows. They even have a form of central heating called a hypocaust. Poor people live in simple wooden huts.

Medieval Houses

800 AD Saxons live in wooden huts with no panes of glass in the windows. There are no chimneys.

1200 Peasants in England live in simple huts of one or two rooms. There are no panes of glass in windows and no chimneys. Rich people live in stone castles. In a castle, the main rooms are the great hall and the solar, which is used by the lord and his family. In towns rich merchants live in stone houses.

13th century Well-off people have glass windows

Modern Houses

1540 Life is safer now so rich people live in houses designed for comfort rather than defense. Houses are divided into more rooms so there is more privacy.

1580 Glass windows are becoming common. So are chimneys. However poor people continue to live in simple huts.

1630 Brick or stone houses are becoming common. They are replacing wooden ones.

1680 Furniture is much more ornate with inlaying, veneering, and lacquering. The rich have new types of furniture such as bookcases and chests of drawers. By now even poor people usually have glass windows and chimneys. However, some poor families still live in one room.

1750 Rich people have very comfortable upholstered furniture. Furniture for the rich is beautifully decorated. Poor people continue to live in simple houses with very simple furniture.

1840 Many houses for the workers in the new industrial towns are dreadful. Some houses are back-to-backs.

1880 Houses for the poor are getting much better. For the middle class mass production of furniture and carpets makes it much easier to create comfortable homes. In a working-class home, the family spends most of their time in the kitchen. They can only afford to properly furnish one room, which is kept for the best. Many towns are building sewers and piped water supplies. Most homes have gas lighting.

1900 Some rich people have electric lights. Gas cookers are becoming cooking. Flushing toilets are now usual (although outside lavatories are common) However some houses for skilled workers are built with inside toilets and bathrooms.

1935 Electric light is common in Britain. Rising incomes mean more and more people can afford comfortable furniture. Some people can afford electric fires but most still use coal. In many towns, slums are demolished and replaced by more modern houses.

1965 In most British cities slum clearance continues. Central heating is becoming common.

1979 The British government introduces a policy of selling council house