[Lat. camera: ‘small vaulted space’; Fr. chambre: ‘room’]
Term used particularly with reference to medieval domestic architecture in north-western Europe, to denote a living room, as opposed to a service room, that is not known by any other denomination. It is found in those regions where living was traditionally centred on a communal hall and where the notion of privacy is strong. The term was, however, used vaguely in the Middle Ages, often as an alternative to ‘hall’ or ‘solar’; in French, chambre applies to a room of any size, shape or use.
Before the Norman Conquest of 1066, the few private rooms that existed in England were called bowers, a term still occasionally employed after it. At the time of the Conquest the word chamber passed into the English language though the distinction between the Germanic ‘hall’, a communal living space, and the French ‘chamber’, as a more private room was to remain. A ‘King’s chamber’ was mentioned at ...