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Ice shelves restrain flow from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Climate-ocean warming could force thinning or collapse of floating ice shelves and subsequently accelerate flow, increase ice discharge and raise global mean sea levels. Petermann Glacier (PG), northwest Greenland, recently lost large sections of its ice shelf, but its response to total ice shelf loss in the future remains uncertain. Here, we use the ice flow model Úa to assess the sensitivity of PG to changes in ice shelf extent, and to estimate the resultant loss of grounded ice and contribution to sea level rise. Our results have shown that under several scenarios of ice shelf thinning and retreat, removal of the shelf will not contribute substantially to global mean sea level (<1 mm). We hypothesize that grounded ice loss was limited by the stabilization of the grounding line at a topographic high ~12 km inland of its current grounding line position. Further inland, the likelihood of a narrow fjord that slopes seawards suggests that PG is likely to remain insensitive to terminus changes in the near future.
THE aim of this chapter is to examine the evidence for domestic architecture and modes of life in the wealthy merchant households of late medieval and early modern Norwich in a broader context, both material and cultural. It explores the changing form of the wider urban landscape and the shifting relationship between public and domestic contexts in elite urban culture, seeking to understand the use and meaning of domestic space and how these were bound up with the wider social and cultural transformations of urban society in this period. In doing so, it revisits the central theoretical and historical agendas outlined in Chapters 1 and 2 to examine the ways in which space and material culture were active in the constitution and negotiation of social identities and relationships in the city.
The changing architectural forms of the houses of the civic elite have been extensively described in Chapters 4 and 5. This chapter extends this discussion to focus on the role of urban space and material culture in the maintenance of political authority within the city. The domestic context was a vital locale where elite families expressed a sense of shared cultural identity, and sociability in both public and private spheres was central to maintaining social networks and negotiating political conflicts. The changing form of elite residences in the early modern period was thereby bound up with the dramatic transformation in the role and meaning of the wider urban landscape in the post-Reformation city.
Throughout the late medieval period the growing political and economic power of the city of Norwich was marked by a concern to define and extend the independence of ‘the urban community’, as represented by the adult males who held the franchise. Inseparable from this process was the growing dominance of a small and integrated political elite who shaped the broader rhetoric of urban commensality to reinforce their authority (Rigby 1988; 1995, 160–77; Swanson 1999, 89–96). The development and character of the governing elite was outlined in Chapter 2: in the fourteenth century the city was ruled by four bailiffs, aided by a council of 24; after the charter of incorporation of 1404 the governing structure of mayor, aldermen and common council was established, with further legislation to define their authority and responsibilities in 1415 and 1424 (Campbell 1975, 12, 15).
THE previous three chapters discussed in detail the houses belonging primarily to Norwich's wealthy mercantile elite; it is now time to turn our attention to the dwellings of the greater part of the inhabitants, which of course made up the vast majority of the city's housing stock. The houses which are covered in the second half of this book vary in size and status, ranging from substantial two- and three-storey dwellings inhabited by prosperous tradespeople and craftsmen, the ‘middling sort’ of the medieval and early modern city, down to single-cell buildings which were the homes of ordinary artisans, labourers and the urban poor. This is a very broad spectrum of the urban population, and it is rarely possible to make definitive statements about the relationship between social and economic status and house size and form. The urban built environment was complex and fluid – urban households might expand or contract their living and working space according to changes in their economic status or family lifecycle; urban neighbourhoods often contained different status groups living in close proximity, while, over time, as we will discover, larger houses were often divided into smaller units as the population increased in the early modern period.
As discussed in Chapter 2, however, Norwich contains a uniquely large and well-preserved body of evidence for exploring the development of medieval and early modern urban domestic buildings in the form of both surviving structures and extensive excavations of urban tenements conducted over the past 50 years, alongside a significant body of documentary sources which can inform us about urban social groups and their spatial and material environment. Together these provide probably our best opportunity from any English provincial city to understand the construction and layout of urban houses across a range of different neighbourhoods and status groups from the middling sort to the urban poor, and to explore the complex relationship between domestic architecture and social and economic transformations in the medieval to early modern transition.
The discussion of these topics is divided across three chapters. Chapter 6 deals with the evidence for non-elite housing in Norwich in the period between the mid-fourteenth and mid-sixteenth centuries.
NORWICH was consistently the largest and wealthiest provincial capital in England in the late medieval and early modern era, second only to London according to every major population and taxation listing between the late fourteenth century and the mid-eighteenth century, when its position was finally overtaken by the growth of Bristol and the Atlantic ports (Slack 2000). It stood at the heart of a prosperous and densely populated agricultural region and was an important centre for textile production, particularly the flourishing worsted industry. The trade networks of the city's wealthy merchants extended across East Anglia and the east coast, down to London and across the North Sea to the Low Countries. It was a diocesan seat and royal administrative centre, and a vibrant social, commercial, religious and cultural hub. Norwich is therefore an ideal place to explore the transformative experience of English towns in the transition between the medieval and early modern worlds. The forces described in Chapter 1, encompassing both long-term restructuring and short-term crises – population expansion and mortality, economic growth and polarisation, the realignment of social hierarchies and the revolutionary impact of religious and political conflict – were felt here with particular intensity. Norwich also demonstrates the vital significance of urban institutions and social structures as mediating forces; people experienced dramatic social and economic change within the familiar contexts of the corporation, guild, parish and household, and through the transformation of these communities, networks and traditions they negotiated a path through the turmoil of the age of transition.
Unsurprisingly, Norwich has long been an important focus for urban historians. The corporation itself maintained an impressive series of historical records from the fifteenth century, revealing a heightened sense of corporate identity and memory (McClendon 1999, 14–17). Several antiquaries were active in the city in the first half of the eighteenth century, notably John Kirkpatrick, whose notes, edited by William Hudson, were published in the nineteenth century (Kirkpatrick 1845; 1889), and Francis Blomefield, whose multi-volume survey of the topography and history of the city and county was published posthumously in 1806. Nineteenth-century scholars made a significant contribution to a fuller understanding of the political history of the city, particularly Hudson and Tingey's (1906–10) publication of the selected records of the corporation.
I began this work with two broad aims in mind. One of these was to introduce to a wider audience the archaeological evidence for late medieval and early modern domestic buildings in Norwich, England's ‘second city’. This, at least, I hope has been achieved. The building recording undertaken by the Norwich Survey in the 1970s provides an invaluable starting point for assessing broad trends in the development of domestic architecture in the city, and the failure to publish the majority of this material in a coherent or comprehensive manner has until now hampered scholars in their efforts to produce a detailed and comprehensive view of buildings and the urban landscape in what was once England's ‘second city’. This work has demonstrated the large numbers of buildings that survive in the city, most particularly those associated with the mercantile elite, but stretching across the social scale, and their potential as a source of information about medieval and early modern urban society.
The value of an integrated approach to standing building and excavated evidence has also been established, providing a fuller account of both the range of building forms and a more fine-grained chronology of the development of buildings in the city. While no single survey can hope to be comprehensive, my aim was to highlight the benefits of an interdisciplinary methodological approach in which documentary sources and material evidence can be useful to both complement and interrogate one another. While it is unlikely that many wholly new historic buildings will be discovered within the central area, archaeological excavations will continue to reveal new domestic sites and architectural fragments will continue to emerge, and each piece of evidence can influence the broader picture. It is my hope that the present work will contribute to a greater understanding of the development of the city’s dynamic and ever-changing urban landscape. The rich architectural inheritance of the city's everyday buildings is both an essential historical resource and a major contributing factor to the unique townscape and sense of place that makes Norwich such a fine city to live and work in.
THIS chapter continues the discussion of the houses of the civic elite in Norwich into the early modern period, between c.1540 and 1660. It begins by following the development of the late medieval houses described in the previous chapter, examining the fate of the medieval open halls and the changes that were made to their private spaces and access arrangements. It will be shown that while some mercantile houses ceiled over the open hall and developed new ways of organising and using domestic space, others retained many aspects of their medieval past. The chapter then moves on to discuss the mercantile houses that were first constructed in the early modern period. There was a widespread phase of new building at this social level in the middle decades of the sixteenth century, from c.1520 to 1570. The new houses, in parallel with the modified medieval properties, adopt innovative plan forms and a range of distinctive spatial arrangements and architectural features. These elements continue to develop in the seventeenth century, although this period is characterised by the gradual adaptation of existing buildings rather than a widespread redevelopment of elite dwellings. The final section of the chapter draws together the evidence for both continuity and change in the merchants’ houses in the early modern period, considering these changes in terms of wider developments in elite architecture in this period.
Strangers’ Hall, Charing Cross, c.1540–1660
In 1540, as we have seen, Strangers’ Hall was the home of widow Agnes Sotherton, née Hethersett. She outlived her husband by 36 years, dying in 1576. The Sothertons were one of the city's premier mercantile dynasties, with three generations holding high civic office. Of Nicholas’ and Agnes’ three sons, Thomas was mayor in 1565, Leonard was sheriff in 1556 and John was sheriff in 1565. Thomas Sotherton resided in St Andrew's parish and John occupied Strangers’ Hall after his mother's death; the two brothers were both married to daughters of Augustine Steward. John’s eldest son Thomas, who was burgess in parliament in 1596 and mayor in 1605, seems to have lived in the neighbouring property and Strangers’ was occupied by his younger brother, John. Thomas Sotherton died and was buried in 1608 in St John Maddermarket (Kelly 2004).
DOCUMENTARY sources, most importantly the descriptions of properties found in the sequence of deeds enrolled before the city court between 1284 and 1311 (Kelly et al. 1983), provide some information about the character of houses in the period before and after the Black Death. These documents are concerned with property transfers between Norwich's more substantial residents; the most important properties, called capital messuages, typically list a series of buildings and spaces such as ‘a hall, chamber and kitchen’. Property owners were also engaged in the sale of many other types of urban property, including shops, shops and solars, stalls in the marketplace, gardens, closes and kilns. The primary sequence of deeds comes to an end in the early fourteenth century, largely because of changes in recording procedures; however, individual deeds continue to be enrolled in the city's court books throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the wills of Norwich citizens also provide evidence for property ownership and transfer of a similar range of urban property types. Depositions before the city's leet court also provide more intimate glimpses of urban dwellings and spaces. For instance, in a shocking case in November 1263, eight men were charged with breaking into the gates and then the hall of Katherine, widow of Stephen Justice, while her husband's body was laid on a bier within, which they proceeded to burn; they also entered the more private chamber and stole goods including weapons and armour. The following year William le Alblaster and other men were accused of setting fire to the gate of the house of John de Belaya, suggesting another large courtyard property (Hudson and Tingey 1906, 204–6).
Archaeological excavations across the city have given us a great deal of information about building types and construction methods in the medieval city, and these are discussed in much greater length in Chapter 6. The majority of buildings, as we might expect, were built of timber posts or using a variety of clay-walling techniques. From the twelfth century onwards, however, some wealthier townspeople lived in stone houses. Two of these survive as standing structures in different states of preservation. The first of these is the north range of Wensum Lodge on King Street, a two-storeyed range at right angles to the street with a vaulted ground-floor undercroft and living accommodation above (this building is described in full below).
THE preceding chapters have focused on the architectural, excavated and documentary evidence for urban houses across the medieval and early modern periods with a focus on the larger surviving examples of well-built houses with several rooms on each floor. These houses were in most cases lived in by the householders, artisans and tradespeople who broadly constituted the ‘middling sort’ in urban society. The following chapter turns to consider the dwellings of the poorer inhabitants of the early modern city, by examining the archaeological evidence for small-scale houses on urban tenements in the northern and western districts, alongside the architectural evidence for surviving smaller houses, most commonly of single-cell plan with two or three storeys. It is important to stress, as has already been highlighted, that these broad distinctions in house size do not exactly or easily map onto clear status divisions in the urban population. Several of the single-cell houses in the city were located on the principal streets in the central parishes and are comparatively large and well-built; these are likely to have been the homes of relatively prosperous townspeople who may well have been independent artisans or traders and no doubt considered themselves to belong to the middling ranks of society. Other examples of smaller cottages are located in side-alleys and rear yards in the central districts, and in greater numbers in the more outlying parishes, and these are more obvious candidates for houses built for and occupied by more humble urban households. The same caveat is true of all of the excavated sites which have been introduced in earlier chapters, the majority of which have occurred, by reason of the progress of modern urban redevelopment, in what would have been more marginal zones within the early modern city. At the large-scale urban tenement excavations of Alms Lane and Oak Street in ‘Over the Water’, for example, there is clear evidence that houses facing the principal streets with two, three or more rooms per floor existed cheek by jowl with smaller houses.
Prologue: Houses and society in an English provincial city
ON 25th April 1507 the ‘fair city’ of Norwich, England's largest and wealthiest provincial urban centre, was struck by a terrible calamity when a great fire broke out in the dense network of streets and lanes on the south bank of the river Wensum. The majority of the city's houses were constructed of timber framing and clay walling with thatched roofs, which were quickly consumed; only the flint masonry churches and public buildings, and the stone and brick houses belonging to the city's wealthy merchants, escaped the conflagration. The fire burned for four days, causing major destruction in a sweeping arc from the cathedral precinct and Tombland in the east to St Margaret's parish in the west. The city had no respite once the flames were quenched, for, later that same year, in June 1507, a second fire broke out in the northern quarter of the city, ‘Over the Water’, devastating a further group of densely occupied parishes.
The impact of the fires was recorded by Francis Blomefield, the celebrated eighteenth- century Norfolk antiquarian, who stated that 718 houses were destroyed (Blomefield 1806 , III, 182–3). This has been calculated as representing at least 40 per cent of the city's housing stock, and a great deal of personal property and merchandise must also have been lost (Evans and Carter 1985, 77–8). It was the most serious provincial urban fire ever recorded in early modern England, second only to the 1666 Great Fire of London (Jones et al. 1984, 5). However, the townspeople were well placed to provide an effective and co-ordinated response to these traumatic events. At the beginning of the sixteenth century Norwich was a thriving city with between 8000 and 9000 inhabitants; unlike many other towns it had experienced growth and prosperity in the late medieval period as a centre for the worsted cloth trade, with a flourishing commercial network extending through the wider region of East Anglia to London and across the North Sea to the Low Countries. Since 1404 the city had been governed as an independent county under a corporation of mayor and aldermen, advised by a common council elected by the citizenry.