By the end of the 1st century, with perhaps more money and pretentions, some of the strip-buildings included reception areas with painted walls and mortar floors.
Many of the houses were burnt down in a large-scale fire in about AD120-125, known as the Hadrianic Fire, and so provide a useful cut-off point as to what houses would have looked like at that time. After the fire, temporary structures were sometimes erected before the houses were rebuilt in the same way as before.
Archaeological evidence from Watling Court, for 1st-century houses that were destroyed in the early 2nd-century fire, uncovered the remains of black and white mosaic floors (WAT78). By using black and white mosaic floors, late 1st-century London was following the fashion set by mosaics elsewhere in the empire at this date (see Mosaicists in Work life).
The late 1st-century fashion for black and white mosaics was to be superseded in the 2nd century by the introduction of colour into the designs.
A timber-framed house with mud-brick plastered walls, excavated at Gresham Street (GSM97), faced onto a side street that connected the main street with the fort. It boasted a verandah and courtyard to the rear.
Excavations showed that decorative wall plaster from adjoining rooms had collapsed in the fire, protecting a mosaic floor, a fine example of an early 2nd-century mosaic floor. The mosaic floor had been laid in the dining or receiving room, the most important room of the 2nd-century house, where the owner would have entertained visitors. This central room had a painted design applied to the plaster on the walls and a small mosaic panel (1.5m square) with a geometric design set in a wide plain red tessellated border, measuring nearly 4 metres square.
The central section is an intricate design combining geometric patterns of lozenges and triangles in white and grey tiles with angled inserts of twisted chains (guilloche) and a central pattern of ivy leaves made of grey, white, red and yellow tesserae (see Mosaic magic in Londinium Lite).
In the early 2nd century, the fashion for mosaic floors was becoming increasingly popular in Roman Britain. The walls and mosaic floor from the Gresham Street site indicate an owner who had sufficient money to pay for the work to be done, perhaps eager to be a fashionable trend-setter. The floor was laid on solid ground, however, and did not have an underfloor heating system (hypocaust).
After the early 2nd-century fire, new timber buildings were constructed on a large proportion of sites. At Milk Street (MLK76), a post-fire timber-frame building with wattle and daub walls was built with painted wall plaster on the internal walls with a patterned mosaic floor. Adjacent gravel may have been the surface of a courtyard showing the change in style of houses.
This particular house went out of use in about AD170 while the houses at Watling Court, that burnt down in the Hadrianic fire, were replaced by poorer quality houses that, in turn, burnt down in the early 3rd century with no later building on the site for the rest of the Roman period.
There is little evidence for house building in Southwark and many Southwark sites were abandoned in the mid to late 2nd century. At Poultry (ONE94), however, earlier property boundaries were retained through to the late Roman period.
Some of these houses and those in later periods were built with cellars. One stone-built house at Plantation Place (FER97) had a stone-lined strong box under the floor where a bag of 43 gold coins had been left, while other buildings such as at Bishopsgate (ETA89) had stairs down to possible storage space.