|English worker housing early in the industrial revolution. (1)|
The word home defines a place or dwelling which a person has emotional attachment to and also some form of ownership over it. The word home first originates from the Old Frisian word hēm (abode, homestead or farmyard). However the development of the English word home appears to have been developed with external influences. The Old English word hāme, more commonly used as hām, was used in phrases to describe being at ones dwelling. Following this, the influence on the development of the word is probably due to Scandinavian influence on the British Iles, specifically in the area of Orkney and Shetland. The word developed into heem (ME), which appeared in Chaucer’s “Reeve’s Tale” from The Canterbury Tales. This collection of stories was published in vernacular English, which resulted in the heem evolving frequently through Middle English into home. Furthermore, The Canterbury Tales is a story of the English peasant, and even a modest home is the peasant’s palace.
A sense of ownership is absolutely central to the definition of the home, but monetary ownership is not necessarily dominant. During the Industrial Revolution, the nature of the English home began to change. In urban settings, ownership of the home was not possession. The inhabitants were invested in the struggle to make rent, often for a single room for an entire family (see left). However as industrialization progressed, the layout and structure of the workman’s dwelling progressed and so to did the nature of their ownership. As working conditions and wages improved in England, the definition of home changed. The family fragmenting into the various rooms of new public housing supplemented the collective experience of the single room dwelling. Ownership became more complex as families gained disposable income, and the objects in the dwelling fostered emotional attachment. Ownership of the home became ownership of a dwelling filled with objects. Furthermore, the division of rooms caused individuals to take ownership and become emotionally attached to specific rooms in the house that were private and allowed them to reflect and care for themselves. Ownership of the home became a synthesis of collective and individual experiences.
Holden, Richard, ed. Oxford. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Accessed November 16, 2012. http://www.oed.com/search?searchType=dictionary&q
(1) McKay, Donald. "Earthly Spaces and Heavenly Rooms." Lecture, University of Waterloo School of Architecture, Cambridge, ON.