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Tudor Houses, Tudor Homes & Architecture

Description of Tudor style homes and manor houses and their rooms and interiors, English tudor architecture.

The latter part of the fifteenth century and the first half of the sixteenth century were remarkable for that phase of English architecture known as Tudor. During this period there was a growing demand for houses for the new and wealthy trading families, which in the reign of Henry VII were taking the place of the old nobility, many of whom had disappeared during the Wars of the Roses, between the years 1455 and 1485. The suppression of the monasteries (A.D. 1536-40) enabled Henry VIII to distribute vast sums of money and great tracts of land among his courtiers, many of whom were also rich and prosperous citizens, who gratified their ambition as landed proprietors by the erection of houses suitable to their newly acquired rank.

Tudor Manor Houses

The Tudor Manor house of the sixteenth century was a continuance of the fifteenth century type ; the rooms were grouped round a quadrangular court, as at Compton Wynyates (Warwickshire) and Sutton Place (Guildford). The typical examples have battlemented parapets which, although no longer useful for defence, were still retained as ornamental features. The entrance to the courtyard was usually in the centre of one side under a gatehouse which gave it prominence. On the opposite side of the court was the entrance porch leading to the screens and hall, while the various living-rooms and offices were ranged along the two remaining sides. Such rooms were usually "thoroughfare" rooms, and in some cases were also entered from the courtyard.

The Great Hall declined still further in importance, pari passu with the state and grandeur of the hereditary landowner, but it was still the principal apartment and formed the central feature of the plan. Its decrease in size was in some measure due to the reduction of the number of military retainers by legal enactment, and also to the fact that many industries formerly carried on in the feudal house were transferred to craftsmen who lived and worked in the village instead of in the great house. The better accommodation provided by inns may also have contributed to this change.

The side fireplace with its richly carved overmantel was now fast developing into an important decorative feature in Tudor times, and was indeed generally used in all the principal rooms.

Family Rooms & Interiors

In addition to the withdrawing room and the Lady's Bower (Boudoir), the Study, the Private dining-room, the Summer and Winter Parlours are also mentioned in connection with some of the larger houses. Bedchambers were more plentifully provided, and in some instances would certainly have been considered sufficient for our own day. Hengrave Hall (Suffolk) (A.D. 1538) had no fewer than forty bedrooms.

Generally speaking, rooms still continued to be thoroughfare rooms, although in Hengrave Hall we find a corridor introduced round the internal court. The ceilings of the hall and living rooms were frequently ornamented with richly moulded plaster ribs dividing the surfaces into panels of various shapes.


It is very difficult to trace authentic examples of the Tudor furniture of this period, but there are notable exceptions with regard to that appertaining to some of the churches, which are often still found in a good state of preservation, such as the choir stalls of Christchurch, Hampshire.


The domestic offices increased in number, and the inventory of Hengrave Hall mentions many new uses to which they were assigned. Thus we read of the hind's hall, kitchen, pantry, dry and wet larders, pastry-room, scouring-house, still-houses. laundry and linen room, wardrobe, wine-cellar, outer cellar, dairy, cheese-room, brew-house, bakehouse, malthouse, hophouse, fish-house and many others.

From this list it will be seen that many roooms were provided which in these days would not be necessary, owing to the ease of communication and accessibility to external sources of supply.

Tudor Gardens

Gardens were laid out in accordance with simple theories, based upon a definite plan embracing some architectural design in the way of steps, balustraded terraces and the like. A Bowling-green was often introduced into the gardens attached to the larger houses.


Compton Wynyates (Warwickshire), (1520) consists of a complete quadrangle, entered on one side through a gateway opposite to the door of the screens on the other side of the court. The lofty hall has a fine bay window, and there are several staircases, the principal one being added in a later period. This is a picturesque example in which there is considerable irregularity of disposition, especially in the case of the entrance, which is not central to the court or facade.

Compton Wynyates
Compton Wynyates, picture taken in 1923.

Sutton Place, Guildford (A.D. 1523-5), is another example of the quadrangular type, but the entrance side has been removed. There was more attempt at symmetry in this example, for the entrance to the hall is on the axial line, and an extra bay window was placed in the angle of the courtyard to balance the hall bay at the corresponding angle. The rooms round the Court must have been thoroughfare rooms in this example, as no space exists for a passage or corridor. The windows are still cusped in the late Perpendicular manner, and the battlemented parapet is a feature of the design.

Hengrave Hall (Suffolk) (A.D. 1538) also supplies an early example of special planning to produce a symmetrical facade.

Layer Marney Towers, Essex (A.D. 1500-26), a terra-cotta building; Moreton Old Hall, Cheshire (A.D. 1559), a half-timbered structure, and many smaller houses in the towns and provinces may be attributed to the Tudor period.

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