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Title: An insular architecture : the rural vernacular architecture and landscape of the Isle of Man and the unique influencing factors that have shaped its form
Author: Tutt, Patricia Adrienne
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
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The Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom and its history does not match up with the histories of any of the adjacent isles, large or small. It has been ruled by Viking, Scots and English Kings and Lords and, although finally vested in the English Crown in 1765 (in the Act of Revestment), it retains its own government and administration and is politically independent of the United Kingdom except in matters of foreign affairs and defence. IN 1406 Henry IV gifted the island as a feudatory estate to Sir John Stanley of Knowsley, Lancashire, and his heirs and it remained theirs until 1765, becoming a Crown dependency in 1828 when the all the feudatory rights were finally extinguished. This period of over three hundred and fifty years, when the island was held by absentee landlords, set the scene for the emerging vernacular architecture. Isolation is implicit in the development and continuity of any particular vernacular architecture and this 'otherness' is particularly apparent on islands which have been large enough to sustain a distinctive vernacular, and appears to be most sharply rendered when insularity is reinforced by distance, language difference, and cultural separation of the rural population from an introduced administrative class. These criteria all apply in the Isle of Man, where there was also a unique pattern of land distribution and tenure that influenced the distribution of farms, and led to the absence of hamlets and farm clusters, and a lack of any good architectural precedent to act as stimulus or exemplars. The Stanleys rarely visited, stayed in their apartments in the castles when they did, and apart from the Bishop (a Stanley appointee) there were no other major landholders building manor houses, or high gentry building grand houses. These constraints have produced an austere vernacular architecture that is superficially similar, but in reality marked by difference, to that of the rest of the Atlantic zone of the British Isles where stone was a plentiful resource and timber a scarce one. Whilst differences arise in the details of construction, the greatest degree of difference is exhibited by the lack of significant variation in types and forms, there being markedly fewer types and variations than might be expected in a comparable area elsewhere. This can best be described as an absence of variation - in plan form, roof construction, wall decoration and elevational treatment; an absence or rarity of certain types and elements - hips, hall house types and central fireplaces; and limited technological development of certain details, especially joinery features such as dormers. The differences are particularly manifest in several characteristics, including: the raising to two storeys of even modest dwellings, and the consequent absence (with very rare exceptions) of the one-and-a-half storey dormered dwelling; the extensive and fastidious use of wheat straw ropes (suggane) secured to stone or brick pegs (bwhid suggane) set into the wall below the eaves, unlike the rather ad-hoc and very localised way in which this technique was used elsewhere in the region; the use of gables (rather than hips) and the treatment of the gable and eaves verges in response to severe weather conditions; and the extent to which quartz was and is used to decorate walls and gateposts. This paper describes the vernacular architecture and landscape of the Isle of Man, identifies the characteristics that make it unique, and discusses the causes of their evolution. In doing so, extensive use is made of new field work and archive material not previously publishe
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available