"Domestic Interiors" by James Ayres

Domestic Interiors The British Tradition 1500-1850 James Ayres

Publication date:
03 Jun 2003
Yale University Press
256 pages: 285 x 215 x 19mm
228 illustrations, 63 colour pl

Although the interiors of aristocratic homes have received much attention, there has been little written about how the interiors of middle-class homes evolved through the ages. In this study, James Ayres traces the development - in words and pictures - of vernacular British interiors from the 16th to the mid-19th century. The work is a greatly expanded and revised version of Ayres' earlier work "The Book of the Home", and deals with a wide range of subjects, including heating and lighting, the use of colour and paint, details of doors, doorways and staircases, and much more. Ayres tells us, for example, that in Tudor England, glazed windows, door locks and floorboards were not simply considered to be fixtures in a middle-class home because of their expense, and it was only after such features became prevalent that these interiors grew more decorative and lavish. In pre-industrial Britain, textiles and printed wallpaper were used sparingly because of their cost, and colours and patterns were introduced through painted floors, ceilings, furniture and stencilled walls. People also took advantage of what was nearby; homes in the south-east, for example, made use of the cast and wrought iron products of Kent and Sussex, and those in Devon had locally-made earthenware fire-backs and firedogs. Ayres offers a mosaic that provides a vivid picture of the smaller domestic dwellings of the past. Embellished with early illustrations and the author's own line drawings and photographs, the work provides evidence for the treatment of historic interiors and inspiration for schemes of decoration today.

James Ayres is a freelance writer and archaeological consultant on historic buildings in England. His previous books include Building the Georgian City (0 300 07548 0 [pound]45.00), also published by Yale University Press.

?Aimed at restorers and decorators, this inspiring book investigates the concealed or forgotten details of decoration and construction in ?ordinary? houses.??BBC Homes & Antiques

?The research undertaken for this fine book is tremendously impressive.??Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post?Owners, architects, curators, decorators or anyone involved in the preservation, restoration, decoration and furnishing of modest vernacular interiors will find this book invaluable, inspiring and informative.??Frances Collard, Country Life

?The particular virtue of James Ayres?s study is that his own intimate knowledge of craft practice and decades of accumulated information are combined in a thoroughly Illuminating and enjoyable fashion.??Neil Burton, Georgian Magazine (UK)

"The author is to be congratulated on gathering together so much fascinating material in this volume. . . . It is easy to be enthusiastic about this volume, as it is both highly readable and extremely informative.  The breadth of knowledge presented in such an accessible form is formidable and it is thoroughly recommencded to anyone interested in not only architecture and the decorative arts but also in social history.  Lastly, but certainly by no means least, Domestic Interiors is beautifully illustrated in colour and black and white to the high standard one has come to expect from the Yale University Press."?Stephen Croad, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History

"A welcome revision and expansion of James Ayres' earlier work.  The fruits of extensive fieldwork and wide-ranging library research have been brought together in a highly readable volume with an authoritative text ably supported by a set of illustrations which have been well chosen and carefully reproduced and which contribute substantially to a most attractive volume.  It is wholeheartedly recommended to all who are interested in our ancestors, their houses and their way of life."?R. W. Brunskill, Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society

"One of the greatest pleasures of reading Domestic Interiors is its goldmine of evidence, both visual and written, for vernacular dwellings. . . . Domestic Interiors presents us with a cornucopia of valuable information and important issues to consider."?Robert Leath, Winterthur Portfolio