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HEN the writer was studying the development of English

architecture for the professional examinations, many years
ago, he found that there was hardly any information easily
available as to the design and construction of the smaller secular
buildings. The books which described English mediaaval archi-
tecture were almost exclusively filled with descriptions of great
ecclesiastical buildings, and, similarly, the authors who wrote of the
later architecture seemed hardly to descend below the houses of
the lesser gentry. But the splendid cathedrals and abbeys of the
Middle Ages, with their stone walls faced with carefully prepared
ashlar, were as superior to the ordinary buildings of their time as
are modern town halls and municipal buildings to the houses of the
ratepayers from whose contributions they are built and maintained;
they occupied a position above and apart, and when the unimportant
buildings are investigated, it appears as though a descent has been
made into some under-world of strange materials and curious
methods. This however must not be carried too far, for the
Records of the Borough of Leicester show that the saltpetre maker,
whose work will be described later, was permitted in the year I 589
to throw down all the mud walls ‘apt for his purpose in the late
suppressed abbeys and houses of religion, and old castles.’

The use of such materials as thatch and mud and wattle is
prevented to-day by the building by-laws, which are useful indicators
of the attitude of the governing class towards building. The un-
important buildings have rarely been restored, and in that have
a value for the artist and the craftsman which those of more
importance no longer possess, and although such humble old

buildings may be usefully studied for lessons in line and form and

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