half-timber house, type of construction of the Middle Ages in N Europe, used chiefly for dwellings. Some French examples date from the 12th cent., and by the 13th cent. the building method had reached high development. In this form of construction the skeleton frame of the building, with all supporting and bracing members, was of timber, usually oak. The outside enclosing walls were of wattle and daub, plaster, or brick, the material being used as a filling between the exposed structural timbers. The work of the 14th, 15th, and 16th cent. gave increasing decorative emphasis to the timbers, which had richly carved Gothic or Renaissance ornamentation. Many cottages, farmhouses, and manors in England used half-timber, but in France and Germany it was chiefly employed for town dwellings. Half-timber, used in some of the 17th-century dwellings of the American colonists, proved unsuited to the climate and was soon abandoned for more weathertight methods.
See A. W. Jackson, The Half-Timber House (1912).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.