We are writing a book about how the ‘middling sort’ used domestic spaces and objects on a daily basis in early modern England. Called A Day at Home in Early Modern England: the materiality of domestic life, the book will be published by Yale University Press. It develops new methods for the study of domestic material culture and examines how people experienced their living spaces and furnishings – from bed chambers and warming pans to apostle spoons and chamber pots.
We’ve spent the past year researching and writing various sections of the book and we’ve just drafted the first two chapters exploring what happens over the course of the morning in the middlling-level household. We begin with waking, rising and dressing and the moral and spiritual associations of these activities: how wall decoration and stored things reflect and inform people’s thinking and experience in the particular space of the chamber. The next chapter looks at the working day and where the different members of the household go to perform their ‘callings’. In both these chapters we’ve been interested in specific themes including the relationship between ritual and routine; early modern individuals’ awareness of the spatial connections within and without the fabric of their building; the dynamic between the ‘gathered’ and the ‘dispersed’ household, and the way in which production and consumption of goods are linked in a busy urban-middling domestic context.