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What does the home mean you to?





How has the concept of “home” changed in Britain from 1800

Polygon Road 1850 - 2024


- Social & power relations- Physical Geography- Cohibation and family dynamic- Influences of Domestic architecture- Material CultureHow does one define a home? "The home is best understood as a site of intersecting spheres, constitutedthrough both public and private,” in ways that are specific to both time and place(Campbell and Vallerand)

Interpreting the question

Considering the historiography: Understanding the home is highly politicised, with the structure of the home curated according to economic, social and cultural factors

The nuances within this question encourage historians to investigate life beyond the permeable walls of the home- on the angle of how an intervening government can affect the interior of the home.

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Next up:Follow this insight into the development of the home and its connotations!A timeline showcasing a political lens of events, of public policy and political consenus enables a synoptic view of the progression from 1800 until the present day.(A perfect revision tool!)

Prior to industrialisation

-This period pre-dating urbanisation is charcterised by a lack of public support for government welfare. Homes were rarely a place of family cohesion and comfort for working class familiies who often resorted to workhouses and were excluded from societal bonds.By 1948, Parlament began accepting the inadequate conditions for the poor, by allowing city councils to clean the streets and knocking down the slums in the later half of the century.- Differences between the classes were most stark in this period, with often the classes living closely to one another, but in opposite standards of living-

Industrialisation from 1850

Predominately from the 1850's, a diaspora occured towards the growing cities, with 54% living in urban spaces.- Due to the changing economic structure, slums were essential in the continutation of the commerial machine, driving wealth for the factory owners.-By 1851 half the population lived in London-Arguably nucleurisation of the family began to occur, as families were forced to downsize into city slums.- Homes were associated with a lack of privacy and poor hygiene standards for the working class-Gendered roles became distinct, as traditional roles were reinforced.

Housing by 1900

-The inital advancements in housing advantaged the middle classes by and large.- Running hot and cold water blessed the middle classes by the 1870's, flowing all around larger houses. This hugely altered the layout of the floor plan, and evidently how residents could keep clean.-The price of gas between 1850 - 1900 halved, furthering accessiblity to the lower classes. The 'Penny-in-the slot' meter allowed families to pay as they go with gas. Alongside this, gas companies rented out gas cookers cheaply.- Gas lighting improved with the incandescent light by 1885 but only 2% of homes had electricity by 1910 due to slow progress.

1919 Housing (Addison) Act

Almost 80% of Britain's population in 1918 rented their homes, with landlords exerting excessive control over rent and living standards.- Social housing propelled from 1919, with the government funding the building of 1 million rented homes- With mortgages becoming more accessible, following the ending of total war conditions, suburbanisation manifested and varying archicecture options for home owners.- the development of of council housing became a solution to Britain's housing crisis, contributing to a flourishing welafre state, providing accessible shelter to working class families.- In the wider context, post war gender relations changed with women proving their strength outside of the home. -

Measure resultsand experiment.

1946 New towns Act

- - Post war consensus approach of establishing towns of 5 - 10,000 people, with their own dediacted facilities and amenities.- Outside spaces became increasingly green, with an emphasis on sufficient, clean space for each family- Centralised planning introduced new principles for social interaction and community based towns.- Green belt legislation was also enacted to control urban growth.- Architectural styles became standardized but significantly modernised, with the choice of housing types, to accomodate a variety of family styles.

Squatter's crisis 1946

The squatter's crisis is recognised as an upheaval after WW2, with over 45,000 people taking over a multitude of miltary camps in Britain.- Many became aware of the '5 evils' from the 1942 Beveridge report, understanding the need for a welfare state and improved housing conditions- Squatting happened in the major cities, taking over a range of buildings.The political action of the ex-servicemen& homeless, pressured the government into 1946 Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act was able to accommodate the squatters (building 125,000 prefabricated homes).- The recognition of housing as the governments responsibility with the home not simply an optional phsyical space but a fundamental right, as an emotional and social space, vital for human existance.

Right to buy scheme 1980

A scheme orchestrated by Thatcher's dogmatic politics in 1980 impacted public policy in multitude of domains:

Transformed public home ownership, improved social mobility and shifted power to the public, inevitably leading to a triumh of individualism within the home and a sense of achivement and pride.- Since 1980, an estimated 2 million homes were sold, relinquishing a significant amount of government responsibility and funding within the public sphere.

- Leading to a division of the working class (up to 400,000 homeless) - Those unble to purchasetheir homes from local authorities feel inferior and ashamed of their home space - A lack of accountability for the governernment and diminishing of responsibility (accumulating in several disasters

Click the button to view Thatcher discussing the housing crisis in the 1980s>>>>


- Controversely, technology has improved and diminished privacy in the home- From 1985, comfort and privacy were eased with communications occuring from within the home, improving connectivity and loneliness.

Equally, as innovations become more remarkable and advanced, concerns over surveillance and data privacy has altered how people view their plethora of devices, reshaping how home owners perceive safety at home.- In more depth, technology has facilitated the upkeep of intimacy over distance, sustaining dual-career, dual-residence distance relationships, including comfort for immigrants and diasporic families.

Grenfell Disaster 2017

Described as a "neo-liberal tragedy", with the deaths of 72 people in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea- Grenfell Tower, a government owned property, reflected the discrepancies between ethnic minorities, with systemic failures of the local government to maintain the procedures, alongside the lack of accountability of landlords, who arguably silenced concerns of residents.- This tragedy emphasises the role of ideology in the safety of the home, with the restructuring of social housing and de-regulation provoking a national interest in social inequality and over 160,000 signatures demanding a full-scale investigation.(View our rendition of the PMQ's to involve yourself in the political debate)


The COVID lockdown dramatically changed life for millions of families, with Britons being obligated by law to shift their work-life balance, with the home as a place of refuge and isolation.- In many ways, a home identified feelings of safety, distanced from the deadly COVID.- With a large effort to work from home, the lines of public and private spheres became fused.- Sadly, cases of domestic abuse rocketed and some noted an occurance of an 'epidemic beneath a pandemic'.- The structure within the home certainly reconfigured, in terms of cleanliness routines, relationship dynamics and interestingly the use of garden spaces.- Furthermore, some homes have remained a sanctuary of choice, with people struggling to reconnect with the outside world and inviting people back in.