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The Tudors were a family that ruled England and Wales for 118 years from 1485 to 1603, and two of our most well known monarchs sat on the throne reigned in this period – Henry 8th and Elizabeth 1st.
During the Tudor period, large houses underwent a significant change in style. For many years they were built for defence purposes, often surrounded by high walls and moats to keep out intruders. Now they were designed to be attractive, and were often laid out in ornate H or E shapes to look really impressive.
It was also fashionable to incorporate hidden symbols and riddles designed into the building to impress and amuse visitors.
Fun Facts about Tudor England
- You can spot a Tudor house by its exposed timber work. These timbers were used to support the structure of the building. But, when you see them in a modern Tudor style house, they‘re just being used for decoration.
- Look out for tall and narrow doors and windows on Tudor houses, as well as very large chimneys. Chimneys were a new technology in those days so people liked to show off by having really big ones!
- Another common feature was an overhanging second floor, and as internal toilets hadn’t yet been invented, if you needed the loo, you’d go out of the window – imagine how mucky the roads would have been!
Classic features of Tudor Houses
- Walls – Vertical and diagonal blackened timbers
- Roofs – often thatched, using straw or reeds. Bundles of straw or reeds were piled on to the frame of the roof.
- Windows – in most houses were covered by horn or wooden shutters. Glass was expensive to make so only included in the houses, mansions and palaces of the rich.
Let’s go looking for Tudor buildings!
- Because of the great fire of London in 1666, there aren’t many Tudor buildings still surviving in London, but those that still exist are definitely worth a visit!
- Hampton Court Palace is a great example of a Tudor building. Cardinal Wolsey gave it to Henry 8th in 1525 to try and stay in his good books. It didn’t work though, because Henry had him arrested just five years later. Henry ordered a magnificent Great Hall to be built which is famous for its hammer beam roof. Henry was so impatient for it to be finished that he made the builders work through the night by candlelight! When it was finished Henry would dine here, seated on a raised platform. If you’ve ever seen paintings of King Henry, you’ll know that he liked his food!
- Many buildings at the Tower of London were built in the Tudor period. Lots of people had the misfortune to be locked up in here. Edward 4th had his own brother locked away there on charges of treason! That’s not very nice!
From the Tudors to the future, the complete guide to London’s Architecture
In association with London estate agents, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward
Watch the story of Philip II and Mary I below…