Old Bowers: Style of building and its role

Style of building and its role

Bowers probably go back to small and one-storey stone storage buildings that can be traced back to the time around 1100 in Braunschweig. Even those constructions were always built in connection with a larger main building.

Bowers can usually be found in the courtyard

During the 13th century the systematic settlement of building plots mainly in the Altstadt and Hagen began. Patricians and merchants lived here who could afford solidly built residential quarters and bowers. The bowers were often placed far back along the side of the plot which left enough room for a front building. Some bowers were built directly on the roadside.

Stone buildings protect from fire damage

The extensive stone building activity from the middle of the 13th century onwards can be linked to the high number of city fires that swept the country in the years 1252, 1254, 1277, 1278 and 1290. One aspect of the bowers was certainly their fire protection and sure enough, many of these stone buildings seem to have survived the fires undamaged.

The upper storeys are furnished comfortably

The bowers were usually two-storeyed and had a cellar. According to the law of the ‘Sachsenspiegel’ (saxon mirror) these buildings were allowed to be constructed without special permission by the authorities. You gained entrance, for each storey separately, through the front building. Further access onto the ground floor or the cellar was also possible via the courtyard side. The cellar and the ground floor were used for the storage of valuable goods whereas the upper floor served as representational living accommodation. Therefore this floor usually had an open fire place for heating. In the Jacob-Kemenate you can still find traces of this. Numerous bowers were also furnished with elaborate window openings.

Explanations and hints

Picture credits

  • Rekonstruktionsversuch E. Arnhold
  • Foto E. Arnhold
  • E. Arnhold
  • Stadtarchiv Braunschweig, H XVI A VII Turnierstraße