Sunday, 20 May 2018

From cave to castle and on to a high rise ............ the story of houses and how we used them

I never think you can get enough of the history books written by R.J. Unstead in the 1950s.*

This one comes from Black’s Junior Reference Books** and was published in 1958.

It was not one that I was given as a child but I rather wish I had because in just 80 pages it offers a clear and comprehensive description of houses from earlier times up to the mid 1950s.

It is paced full of interesting information on the style and construction of houses, along with the possessions that could be found in them and much about how people used their homes.

And above all it is the excellent collection of line drawings of everything from castles and cottages to windows, furniture and how the house moved from being a communal place to a more private residence of just one family.

It is also a book I often go back to as a starting point for ideas, and pictures of the everyday domestic objects from a 19th century kitchen range and copper to a Tudor  four poster bed and Roman Hypocaust.

It isn’t that I couldn’t find these elsewhere but there is a pleasure in leafing through the pages and coming across some old favourites.

Not that this is just a sad slide into nostalgia, instead it is a celebration of when history books for young people were informative, fun to read and just jolly good books to have around.

I suspect also they were embraced by teachers and librarians in those post war decades when education and schools were themselves undergoing profound changes.

So once again it’s a thank you to Mr Unstead and I rather think I will go looking for a few more.

Pictures; from A History of Houses, R.J.Unstead, 1958

*LOOKING AT HISTORY, PEOPLE IN HISTORY, TEACHING HISTORY IN JUNIOR SCHOOLS

**DEEP SEA FISHING, TRAVEL BY ROAD, THE STORY OF AIRCRAFT, COAL MINING, THE STORY OF THE THEATRE, TRAVEL BY SEA

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