Tudor architecture is an architectural style that emerged between the 15th and 16th centuries when the Tudor family came into power in Britain. It is a transitional architectural style with an amalgamation of characteristics of Renaissance and Gothic architectural styles. The most prominent feature of a Tudor style building is the exposed wooden beams and the monochromatic exterior owing to its name as Perpendicular gothic. This fairy tale cottage architectural style became so popular that in the 20th century there was a Tudor Revival and a lot of mock Tudor mansions emerged in the UK and US.

1. Half-Timbered Exteriors

The most notable feature of a Tudor house is the exposed timber beams. They are usually dark in color with whitewashed bricks between them. These beams are a crucial structural element of the Tudor house where they form the load-bearing framing. The newly introduced first floor was supported through these timber beams and columns.

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Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford upon Avon ©en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Hathaway%27s_Cottage#/media/File:Anne_Hathaways_Cottage_1_(5662418953).jpg

2. Steep gable roof

The triangular steep gable roof is a prominent feature of the Tudor style. The house will usually have gables on gables to provide a captivating exterior by creating a break in the shingles. The gable roof helps provide high ceilings on the upper floor of the house. The gable compliments the fairy tale cottage-style house ambiance and ties in all the exterior elements. The chief materials used were slate, clay, thatch, or tiles.

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Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire  ©en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LittleMoretonHall.jpg

3. Extensive Brickwork

Brick was not a commonplace item in the 15th century but a luxury product that was used by the rich in their homes. The homes are classified by the use of materials in their construction. The use of extensive brickwork as a filling between wooden beams that were plastered and then painted was an identity of a rich Tudor home, while the middle class and poor houses used just plaster as a filling.

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Shakespeare House in Stratford upon Avon  ©www.avon-boating.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Our_Supporters.original.jpg

4. Landscaping

Landscaping and its design are always a crucial feature of a wealthy estate or house. The Tudor style also incorporates geometrical landscaping as a feature in the large manors. The use of flawlessly cured and symmetrical gardens became another way of depicting the owner’s wealth to society.

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Manor House ©www.houzz.co.uk/photos/manor-house-country-house-exterior-west-midlands-phvw-vp~23003871

5. Large Brick Chimneys and fireplaces

In this era, the fireplace was the primary source of heating as well as cooking in the kitchen. So, the location and size of a fireplace is an important design element of the Tudor home. The most significant placement of the fireplace is the great hall and the kitchen. The number of fireplaces depended on the wealth of the family; it could just be a small hole in the wall of a poorer family on the other hand there could be three extensive fireplaces in all the main rooms. They were made out of bricks and had ornate features around it.

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Large brick fireplace © www.homedit.com/tudor-style-house/

6. Casement Windows and importance of glass

Tudor homes were the first to see glass windows as a frequent feature and not a luxury due to the availability of glass. The windows have wooden frames and are usually long and narrow. The windows were bundled together to increase the inflow of natural light. Tudor windows were casement windows that were designed to open outwards to provide appropriate ventilation. The windows had a diamond latticed glass with lead casings.

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Casement windows ©homedesignnow.com/tudor-style-houses/

7. Emergence of the upper floor

The Tudor homes had an upper floor that provided more area and addition of various rooms. The advancement in the structural system provided them with a lot of options while planning as you could even add fireplaces on the upper floor and create more private rooms for the family. The ground floor had common areas like kitchen, dining, and great hall while the upper floor had a private bedroom and washrooms. But there was no sanitary system in place and, the waste was just thrown out of the windows.

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Private rooms in upper floors  ©inspiracionline.blogspot.com/2012/04/period-house-in-suffolk.html

8. Elegant Tapestries

The walls of the homes were covered in elaborate tapestries as form insulation and decoration. The material, size, and quality of tapestry were also among one the design elements for the owners to showcase their wealth in society. The quality and price of the tapestry depended on three things; the materials it is woven from, the skill of the weaver, and the finesse of the weave. The tapestry with silk and metallic threads were the most expensive.

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Elegant and elaborate tapestry ©in.pinterest.com/pin/448952656577956634/

9. Contrast of materials from wealthy to commoners

The material contrast has been visible in the Tudor homes quite visually due to the limited availability of certain materials. The extensive use of materials like wood and glass to showcase wealth. The number of fireplaces in the house from a small hole to fireplaces on the upper floors for private bedrooms. The ornate glass in the windows and perfectly manicured gardens were all symbols of wealth. The materials of the roof varied from thatch being used in poorer homes to tile and slate in wealthy homes. The materials do everything to highlight the social and economic status of the family.

10. Old vs New

The Tudor style was revived in the 20th century in the UK and US predominantly due to its fairy tale cottage-style architecture. The half-timbered beam look was carried to the revival homes but as a decorative purpose rather than a structural element. The fireplaces were also made as a decorative element rather than being used for heating. The differences can be spotted between the original Tudor and mock Tudor by observing the pitch of the roof and how straight lines along the beams as the original Tudor would hardly have any straight lines.

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The mock Tudor ©homedesignnow.com/tudor-style-houses/
Taapsi Nayyar
Author

Taapsi Nayyar, a recent post graduate in Interior Architecture and Spatial Design from Edinburgh College of Art, United Kingdom. She is an avid reader and painter with a passion for art, culture and architecture. Furthermore, she is working on exploring the relationship betweeninterior design theories and their impact on the psychological behavior of users.

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