University of Leicester
2020WEBBMSPHD.pdf (162.27 MB)

Studies in Urban Space in English Towns. Part A: An Examination of Late Medieval Social Space and Part B: Surviving Late Medieval District Character and How it was Viewed c.1900 to 1972

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posted on 2020-03-05, 10:57 authored by Mark S. Webb
Most of Britain’s larger towns have lost their former medieval character. In many cases, only isolated medieval buildings or fragments remain, isolated amongst modern buildings and streets and with little interpretation or context. Changes to the topography, built environment and streets in British towns are little understood. This thesis is examines medieval urban space and character in four towns: Coventry, Leicester, Gloucester and Southampton. The thesis is presented in two parts.
Part A examines late medieval neighbourhood character in the four towns during the late medieval period, c.1350 to c.1540. Previous scholars have identified areas of distinctive character such as ecclesiastical or defensive zones in late medieval towns. Social zoning and neighbourhoods of distinct social character have not been examined in detail, and rich and poor are assumed to have lived side by side. My interdisciplinary approach attempts to show for the first time how we can go beyond the documentary data to inform our understanding of areas of distinct character in the late medieval period, focusing on four towns.
Part B examines what remained of medieval district character in the four towns, against a backdrop of changing attitudes to historic buildings and town planning and redevelopment nationally. The thesis makes use of mostly unpublished information available in national and local archives to show how medieval archaeology and standing buildings have been viewed during the changes to British towns and cities over the last 100 years.
At a time when studies show that a ‘sense of place’ is important to many in contemporary communities, and when local authorities are currently reviewing how to reverse some of the more recent urban changes, such as inner ring roads, informing the debate about the character of the late medieval town is timely.



Deirdre O’Sullivan; Ruth Young

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Archaeology and Ancient History

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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