Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/55

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
35
SAXON HALL

their homes, each family taking the name of some ancestor. Thus the family of the Wellings named their new home Wellington, the family of the Paddings, Paddington, of the Millings, Millington.

Their houses varied with the wealth or rank of their owners; all were of wood, for the Angles and Saxons had only one word for "to build," and that was "getimbrian." The centre of the homestead lay in the long public hall, with its hearth-fire in the midst—the smoke escaping as best it might through holes in the roof. This was the common living-room, and not infrequently, when night fell and the fire flickered low, the common sleeping-room, where weary men threw themselves down to sleep on bundles of straw. The walls of the hall were hung with tapestry worked by the ladies, to keep out the draughts, which must have been piercing in winter, for the doors were never closed.

The hospitality of our forefathers was proverbial. Any stranger presenting himself at the door was cordially welcomed; water was brought to wash his feet and his hands, and he took his place at meat with the family. The food, though simple, was abundant. A board placed on trestles in the centre served as a