1066- The year that Prefab changed the world


Harold Godwinson’s coronation took place on January 5, 1066 making him King Harold II of England. In order to pursue his own claim, William assembled an invasion fleet of around 600 ships and an army of 7000 men. He landed at Pevensey Sussex on September 28th, 1066 and assembled a prefabricated wooden castle near Hastings as a base. This was a direct provocation to Harold Godwinson as this area of Sussex was Harold's own personal estate, and William began immediately to lay waste to the land. It may have prompted Harold to respond immediately and in haste rather than await reinforcements in London.

For his invasion of Saxon England, William brought Humphrey de Tilluel as his Chief engineer.  He is shown in the Bayeux Tapestry building a prefabricated fort, brought in sections from Normandy, on an earthen mound formed by throwing up the soil dug from a ditch surrounding it.   Humphrey defected back to Normandy, alarmed by stories of his wife's infidelity.  William replaced him with a young monk from Bec, called Gundulph.  The skills needed to build a castle were little different from those required to build an abbey so it was appropriate that a man of the Church should be appointed as the principle military engineer.

Castles in historic context

1. The Norman Kings, William I, William II Rufus and Henry I

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 introduced feudalism to England, and with it the castles. In fact, castles were the means by which William I (1066 -1087) secured his hold on England following their victory over the English army at the battle of Hastings. The chronicler Wace says that William brought over the materials for a prefabricated fort: that is, wooden sections already cut and drilled, together with the fittings. The fort was erected immediately after the landing at Pevensy, on the remains of a Roman fort, and was complete by the end of the day. Thus William moved to Hastings from a fortified base. Immediately after his victory at Hastings, William consolidated his position by building a castle, a work that is portrayed on the Bayeux Tapestry (11). After this, his first move was to Dover.

Can anyone suggest a viable, architectural reason as to why Buckingham Palace is so bad?

I think the vote (in Time Out) has been swayed by the republican feeling. It's a shame because there could have been a real vote that would ensure certain eyesores are finally torn down.
It's certainly not one of the ugliest. The front from the Mall is phenomenally bland, but quite cleverly disguises the fact that it is a refacing of a really ugly block that was thrown up in the 1840s to house Queen Victoria's ever expanding brood. The rest of the building (designed by Nash) is worth keeping as a People's Museum come the revolution. :D

The Portland Stone front is actually one of the earliest examples of pre-fabricated construction - put up one summer while George V was off shooting!

By the turn of the century the soft French stone used in Blore's East Front was showing signs of deterioration, largely due to London's notorious soot, and required replacing. In 1913 the decision was taken to reface the façade. Sir Aston Webb, with a number of large public buildings to his credit, was commissioned to create a new design. Webb chose Portland Stone, which took 12 months to prepare before building work could begin. When work did start it took 13 weeks to complete the refacing, a process that included removing the old stonework.

Hen Domen was just one castle out of many hundreds that were built across England at that time. It was a custom-made base with prefabricated buildings from which heavily armed mounted parties could go out to terrorise, to burn and to take hostages.

Tenbury Wells
Worcestershire, England

Tenbury is an attractive town situated in the northwest corner of Worcester near the borders of Herefordshire and Shropshire. Tenbury lies on the River Teme, in an area known for growing hops and cider apples. For this reason Tenbury has been called the "The Town in the Orchard".

As its name would suggest, Tenbury Wells was a spa town, popular from about 1840 onward for its unusual saline waters (i.e. "salty"). This spa heritage is reflected in the architecture of Tenbury, which is largely Victorian. Chief among these is Tenbury Spa, designed in unusual "Chinese Gothic" style by James Cranston. The spa, or Pump Room, was worthy of note as one of the earliest examples of a prefabricated building; it was made in Birmingham of a prefabricated iron framework, and reassembled in Tenbury.

Within the largely 19th century St. Mary's church are the remains of a Saxon cross, and the town itself contains several half-timbered buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace was an iron and glass building designed by Joseph Paxton for the Great Exhibition held in London in 1851. The palace was first erected in Hyde Park. It was prefabricated from iron girders and arches. The building was 1,851 feet (564 meters) long, to commemorate the year of the exhibition. In 1852, it was dismantled and rebuilt at Sydenham, in south London. The rebuilt structure, called Sydenham Palace, had additional end-towers by the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The building burned down in 1936. The site in south London became known as Crystal Palace. Today, the Crystal Palace grounds have a sports center.

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