Why Do Our Homes Have Halls?

Did you ever wonder where the rooms in our homes originated? Well I was curious and found Bill Bryson’s book “At Home- A Short History of Private Life” and have started to read through it. It covers every room that came into existence and today I am writing about the hall. I am only part way through reading it but wanted to pass along some of the interesting things I have learned so far from Mr. Bryson’s writings.

Homes evolved over time just like everything else in human existence. For our early ancestors, a home was just a shelter with only the necessities of life and the furnishings were of no value to the owners as they were basically functional only. When homes started to take shape in the more modern sense of the word, the usually had one main room and it was called a “hall”.  There was a large hearth in that space that provided fire for cooking and heating. Chimneys and durable brick were invented around this time to funnel the smoke from the fire to the outside. That was the whole house and in England it became part of the name of the residence-such as Hardwick Hall. It was large and the center of all activity for its residents and their servants. They ate, slept and dressed together.  The hall people rent nowadays to hold their big party or event originated from the hall being the main room of early homes. Over the years more and more rooms were added off the main hall and it eventually became a pass-through space to hold coats and hats from where the hostess invited you into the rest of the home.

You have to come back and read my future installments that will cover the kitchen, dining room, cellar, study, bedroom, bathroom, nursery, dressing room and attic. Who knows, you may want to get a copy of this great book and read it for yourself!


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