An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle

Meaning of “An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle”

The proverb “an Englishman’s home is his castle” is a British proverb. It means a home is the place of refuge and safety for a person. Specifically, for the English people, a home is a shelter that protects a person. It also means that whatever happens at home must be controlled and solved in the same place. You don’t have to involve others in your family matter as they are outsiders. In other words, the phrase is used for privacy and security.

Origin of “An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle”

Home to modern legal codification, this dictum originated in England during the seventeenth century. Since then, it has been established as common law in terms of the safety and shelter of home. Sir Edward Coke, an English politician and legal mind, has referred to this point in his famous book, The Institutes of the Laws of England, published in 1628 in which he has stated it as “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [Every man’s home is his safest refuge].”

Later, the British Prime Minister George Grenville defined this in 1763 using Pitt the Elder’s remarks, “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail — its roof may shake — the wind may blow through it — the storm may enter — the rain may enter — but the King of England cannot enter.” This law was then become a rule of thumb to stop anyone from entering the house of a person. However, when it was imported to the United States, the word Englishman was replaced with some other hands. A journalist and Joel Chandler Harris wrote this phrase twisting it when writing the biography of Henry W. Grady, involved in writing American Constitution. It was published in 1800. Since then, this proverb has been used in the same way as it is now.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

An Englishman’s Home by Evelyn Waugh

Narrated by an anonymous person, this short story presents the theme of identity, control, and pride. Metcalfe considered himself a countryman despite his being new to that area. However, the villagers did not include him and considered all others merely visitors. Despite spending several years in that village, building a good business, he was still considered an outsider. However, the title of the story eludes to the saying that despite becoming influential, he was still master of his own house and could not change the opinion of the poor villagers.

Example #2

An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle by Professor Elemental

Hello lovely, you look stunning
Lots of fun in my house coming
Care for a biscuit or a liquorice twist?
It’s best not to sit there; better not risk it
That chair, right there, reserved for geoffrey-
A butler who helps me, a monkey? Definitely
An ape, probably, I’m never quite sure
Have a look around
Don’t open that door!
That’s where the lab is, where I produce a
Number of things and one got loose so
Keep an eye out for something new
Here at Elemental Manor there’s something to do
That’s alarming, bizarre, disarming, and charming
Ghosts in the attic, giant rabbits in the garden
Half past three: I’m parched, im partial
To a bucket load of tea
In my home; my castle
An englishmans home is his castle
Come on in, how do you take your tea?

Paul Alborough sings the song with his pen name Professor Elemental. He combines harsh and humorous words for each character. He states how he serves people at his home, making them comfortable like Geoffrey. He also makes fun of himself. Then asks, how the visitor will take tea at his home, which is an Englishman’s home, using this proverb at the end. This clearly means that the visitor has nothing to do with his odd setting as it is his home and that he should be concerned about how he would take tea.

Example #3

Agents and Processes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

“At this point, however, it is worthwhile to remark an exception real and not always apparent. The rich or well-to-do parents can send away their young children to another part of the their own house from that in which they spend most of their own days and nights. Presently, to be sure, they will send them to boarding-schools, but we have no in mind an earlier stage, when their children can be under the same roof, and yet not in the way; and under the parents’ roof they are in the hands of caretakers who are their parents’ servants, nurses, governesses, selected, employed, paid, and, if necessary, dismissed by the parents. Here, too, it may be said that the children are children not only for the parents but also of society; but society seems to be more remote and less powerful, the parents nearer and more dominant. An Englishman’s home is his Castle; and Englishman’s wife can choose her own nurse and governess, if she has the money: we shall later enquire into the reasons which guide our choice.”

This paragraph has been taken from a popular essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American philosopher. He sheds light on the parents and parenting and adds that parents have dominance over their children in terms of being their provider. They can arrange everything for them at home for her children. He has used the phrase at the end of this paragraph to point out that home is the place of refuge for an Englishman, and his wife is its manager.

Example #4

Strangers & Pilgrims by Vivienne Tuffnell

“There’s one house that would catch your eye if you were to fly low along this river. It’s closest to the water of any of these buildings, and if you’re fanciful you might even smell the remnant of the river mud left outside the back door when the flood receded. There are other smells only a psychic might sense too, but the mud and mess here hosed away long ago. Follow me now and come closer. It’s a little smaller than the other houses (some of which are mansions really), and the word modest somehow springs first to mind. If an Englishman’s home is his castle, this this castle is decidedly bijoux; solidly built and four-square and strangely blind-looking. The windows are slightly smaller, giving the look of someone narrowing their eyes.”

This modern novel by Vivienne Tuffnell shows six strangers who have typed words on internet search engines to start their journey. They reached a house where the warden is present to entertain them. This description in the above paragraph is about that house the warden has compared with an Englishman’s home, implying that he is a British, and that is his castle. He has beautifully stated the construction, location, and environment of the house using this proverb.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “I don’t like to stay in a dormitory; I belong at home just like an Englishman’s home is his castle.”

Example #2: “I can do whatever I want. It’s my home. Don’t know an Englishman’s home is his castle.”

Example #3: “I have a right to defend my home. As they say, an Englishman’s home is his castle.”

Example #4: “My home is my castle. I feel safe and comfortable. I don’t feel that at my friend’s place or a hotel.” Here the phrase is used with a variation.

Example #5: “Everyone is entitled to their privacy and protection. Most people hold the view that an Englishman’s home is his castle.”