(active 1590s in Suffolk)

Exterior view

Little Moreton Hall, Congleton, Cheshire

In England, surviving structures and written evidence together suggest that there was a raising of standards in the provision of domestic housing and an expansion and structural renewal of public buildings in the late 16th century and during the first half of the 17th. Such buildings, which sometimes were radical transformations of pre-existing structures, are the oldest surviving domestic buildings in most of the English towns that enjoyed a period of prosperity before the Industrial Revolution.

While the ground-plans of many examples of buildings of the same type can be usefully compared across the country at this time, their elevations bear witness not only to the survival but also to the consolidation of local building styles and materials. The accident of survival can be deceptive, but the evidence suggests a more aggressive assertion of the potential of local materials than ever before, from the advanced technology of brick in East Anglia (e.g. Roos Hall (1593) at Beccles, Suffolk) to the black-and-white half-timbered houses of north-west England and along the Welsh border (e.g. the additions of 1559 to Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire).

Little Moreton Hall is a moated 15th and 16th-century half-timbered manor house 6.4 km southwest of Congleton, Cheshire. It is one of the finest examples of timber-framed domestic architecture in England. So picturesque is the house that it has been described as "a ginger bread house lifted straight from a fairy story". The earliest parts of the house were built for the prosperous Cheshire landowner Sir Richard de Moreton around 1450; the remainder was constructed in various campaigns by three successive generations of the family until around 1580. The house remained in the ownership of the Moreton family for almost five centuries. The building is highly irregular, with asymmetrical façades that ramble around three sides of a small cobbled courtyard, with "bays and porches jostling each other for space".

The photo shows one of the side façades. The weight of the third-storey glazed gallery, possibly added at a late stage of construction, has caused the lower floors to bow and warp.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.