Tudor Architecture

Tudor architecture refers to the style of architecture that gained currency in England during the reign of the Tudor monarchs which lasted from 1485 to 1603. Since the break with Roman Catholic Church took place early in the Tudor era, notable examples of Tudor architecture were secular buildings and not ecclesiastical structures.

The Tudor style itself underwent significant changes through the reigns of successive Tudor monarchs, with architecture commissioned by Henry VIII, for instance, being notably different compared to the Elizabethan architecture in the late 16th century.

Characteristics of Tudor Architecture

However, certain overarching features are unique to the Tudor architecture and these define the style. One of the most significant features of Tudor architecture was the extensive use of what later came to be called the “Tudor arch”. This type of arch was typically four-centred and was typically wider than its height. It came to be extensively employed in both ecclesiastical and secular buildings constructed in the Tudor era.

Socio-Political Influences on Tudor Architecture

Tudor architecture coincided with a time when the use of castles as military fortifications grew obsolete and they were treated more as domestic residences of the rich and the nobility. As a result, castles and other residential structures built for the rich typically included several aesthetic features previously not used in England.

Rich oriel windows, extensive use of half-timber work and innovative chimney designs were frequently used to adorn Tudor-style buildings.

Important Facts about Tudor Architecture:

  • Tudor architecture was recognisable by the use of iconic Tudor arch, oriel windows, frequent use of roofs with multiple gables and brickwork.
  • Tudor architecture originated during the reign of the Tudor monarchs.
  • Tudor architecture dates from 1485 until 1603 and beyond.
  • Tudor architecture was influenced by features of Renaissance architecture from Continental Europe as well as more normal architecture from northern regions of British Isles.
  • Tudor architecture can be seen in a number of places throughout England as well as Scotland.
st georges chapel windsor castle

st georges chapel windsor castle

Brickwork in Tudor Architecture

Another interesting feature of the late Tudor architecture was that it employed brickwork in construction. Before the Tudor era, stones were mostly used by the wealthy while the poorer classes relied on cheaper materials.

During the Tudor era, bricks came to be used initially as a rarity in the structures commissioned by the rich. Over time, the bricks became an inexpensive material and by the end of the Tudor era, all except the very poor were using bricks in building their houses.

The Tudor era also coincided with the rise of a wealthy merchant class in England. This contributed to the evolution of a unique feature of domestic Tudor architecture, namely the famous Tudor houses. These houses typically employed wattle in construction and cemented with a type of daub.

Wood was used for the frame of a domestic building and once the building was completed, it was painted all over so that it ultimately looked like a black-and-white house.

During the Tudor era, Europe was already undergoing Renaissance. This exerted a significant influence on Tudor architecture which incorporated many embellishing aspects of the Renaissance architecture. This resulted in the use of elaborately decorated roofs, long galleries and the lack of a keep in castles.

Top five examples of Tudor architecture:

  1. King’s College Chapel in Cambridge which dates back to 15th and 16th centuries
  2. The Hampton Court Palace in Surrey which dates back to early 16th century.
  3. St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle which features Tudor architecture dated to early 16th century.
  4. East Barsham Manor in Norfolk which dates back to early 16th century.
  5. The Sutton Place in Surrey which dates back to 1525.
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