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For the later style inspired by Tudor architecture, see Tudor Revival architecture. For the style popular in apartment buildings and housing cooperatives in New York City in the 1920s, see Tudor City.
Outside view of King's College Chapel, Cambridge, showing the distinctive Tudor arch

The Tudor architectural style is the final development of Medieval architecture in England, during the Tudor period (1485–1603) and even beyond. It followed the Perpendicular style and, although superseded by Elizabethan architecture in domestic building of any pretensions to fashion, the Tudor style long retained its hold on English taste. Nevertheless, 'Tudor style' is an awkward style-designation, with its implied suggestions of continuity through the period of the Tudor dynasty and the misleading impression that there was a style break at the accession of Stuart James I in 1603.

The four-centered arch, now known as the Tudor arch, was a defining feature. Some of the most remarkable oriel windows belong to this period. Mouldings are more spread out and the foliage becomes more naturalistic. During the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, many Italian artists arrived in England; their decorative features can be seen at Hampton Court, Layer Marney Tower, Sutton Place, Nonsuch Palace, and elsewhere. The Dissolution of the Monasteries provided surplus land, resulting in a small building boom, as well as a source of stone.[1]

Typical features[edit]

Gatehouse of Oxburgh Hall in Oxborough

Tudor style buildings have several features that separate them from Medieval and later 17th-century design.

Nobility, upper classes, and clerical[edit]

The style of large houses moved away from the defensive architecture of earlier moated manor houses, and started to be built more for aesthetics. For example, quadrangular, 'H' or 'E' shaped floor plans became more common.[2] It was also fashionable for these larger buildings to incorporate 'devices', or riddles, designed into the building, which served to demonstrate the owner's wit and to delight visitors. Occasionally these were Catholic symbols, for example, subtle or not so subtle references to the trinity, seen in three-sided, triangular, or 'Y' shaped plans, designs or motifs.[3]

During this period the arrival of the chimney stack and enclosed hearths resulted in the decline of the great hall based around an open hearth that was typical of earlier Medieval architecture. Instead, fireplaces could now be placed upstairs and it became possible to have a second story that ran the whole length of the house.[4] Tudor chimney-pieces were made large and elaborate to draw attention to the owner's adoption of this new technology.[1] The jetty appeared, as a way to show off the modernity of having a complete, full-length upper floor.[1]

Roof detail including chimneys, Hampton Court Palace

Buildings constructed by the wealthy had these common characteristics:

  • An 'E' or 'H' shaped floor plan
  • Brick and stone masonry, sometimes with half timbers earlier in the period
  • Recycling of older medieval stone. Signs of hand riven stone masonry from earlier than 1505 consistent with Henry VIII's policy of plundering building materials from priories and abbeys. Especially common in country estates.
  • Curvilinear gables, an influence taken from Dutch designs
  • Large displays of glass in very large windows several feet long; glass was expensive so only the rich could afford numerous, large windows
  • Depressed arches in clerical and aristocratic design, especially in the early-middle portion of the period
  • Hammerbeam roofs still in use for great halls from Medieval period under Henry VII until 1603; were built more decoratively, often with geometric-patterned beams and corbels carved into beasts
  • Classical accents such as round-headed arches over doors and alcoves, plus prominent balustrades from time of Henry VIII to Elizabeth I
  • Large chimneys, often topped with narrow decorative chimney pots in the homes of the upper middle class and higher
  • Wide, enormous stone fireplaces with very large hearths meant to accommodate larger scale entertaining; in aristocratic homes these often were customized with motifs from the family coat of arms. Cooking fireplaces would be found in lower sections of a stately home and be large enough to fit a bed inside
  • Long galleries to display portraiture
  • Tapestries serving a triple purpose of keeping out chill, decorating the interior, and displaying wealth
  • Gilt detailing inside and outside the home
  • Geometric landscaping in the back of the home: large gardens and enclosed courtyards were a feature of the very wealthy

Commoner classes[edit]

The houses and buildings of ordinary people were typically timber framed. The frame was usually filled with wattle and daub but occasionally with brick.[1] These houses were also slower to adopt the latest trends, and the great hall continued to prevail.[4]

Smaller Tudor-style houses display the following characteristics:

  • Simpler square or rectangular floor plans in market towns or cities
  • Farmhouses retain a small fat 'H' shape and traces of late Medieval architecture; modification was less expensive than entirely rebuilding
  • Steeply pitched roof, with thatching or tiles of slate or more rarely clay (London did not ban thatched roofs within the city until the 1660s)
  • Cruck framing in use throughout the period
  • Hammerbeam roofs retained for sake of utility (remained common in barns)
  • Prominent cross gables
  • Tall, narrow doors and windows
  • Small diamond shaped window panes, typically with lead casings to hold them together
  • Dormer windows, late in the period
  • Flagstone or dirt floors rather than all stone and wood
  • Half-timbers make of oak, with wattle and daub walls painted white
  • Brickwork in homes of gentry, especially Elizabethan. As with upper classes, conformed to a set size of 210–250 mm (8.3–9.8 in) × 100–120 mm (3.9–4.7 in) × 40–50 mm (1.6–2.0 in), bonded by mortar with a high lime content
  • Jettied top floor to increase interior space;[5] very common in market town high streets and larger cities like London
  • Extremely narrow to nonexistent space between buildings in towns
  • Inglenook fireplaces. Open floor fireplaces were a feature during the time of Henry VII but had declined in use by the 1560s for all but the poor as the growing middle classes were becoming more able to build them into their homes. Fireplace would be approximately 138 cm (4.5 ft) wide × 91 cm (3 ft) tall × at least 100 cm (3.3 ft) deep. The largest fireplace – in the kitchen – had a hook nailed into the wall for hanging a cooking cauldron rather than the tripod of an open plan
  • Oven not separated from apparatus used in fireplace, especially after the reign of Edward VI; middle-class homes had no use for such enormous ovens nor money to build them
  • More emphasis on wooden staircases in homes of the middle class and gentry
  • Outhouses in the back of the home, especially beyond cities in market towns
  • Little landscaping behind the home, but rather small herb gardens.

Examples of Tudor architecture[edit]


In church architecture the principal examples are:


Tudor architecture remained popular for conservative college patrons, even after it had been replaced in domestic building. Portions of the additions to the various colleges of Oxford University and Cambridge University were still carried out in the Tudor style, overlapping with the first stirrings of the Gothic Revival.

There are also examples of Tudor architecture in Scotland, such as King's College, Aberdeen.


Historic Tudor houses along Mill Street in Warwick
Entrance facade of Sutton Place, Surrey, dating from around 1525

As a modern term[edit]

In the 19th century a free mix of late Gothic elements, Tudor, and Elizabethan were combined for public buildings, such as hotels and railway stations, as well as for residences. The popularity continued into the 20th century for residential building. This type of Renaissance Revival architecture is called 'Tudor,' 'Mock Tudor,' 'Tudor Revival,' and 'Jacobethan.'


  1. ^ a b c d Picard, Liza (2003). Elizabeth's London. London: Phoenix. ISBN 0-7538-1757-8. 
  2. ^ Pragnall, Hubert (1984). Styles of English Architecture. Frome: Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-3768-5. 
  3. ^ Airs, Malcolm (1982). Service, Alastair, ed. Tudor and Jacobean. The Buildings of Britain. London: Barrie and Jenkins. ISBN 0-09-147830-8. 
  4. ^ a b Quiney, Anthony (1989). Period Houses, a guide to authentic architectural features. London: George Phillip. ISBN 0-540-01173-8. 
  5. ^ Eakins, Lara E. ""Black and White" Tudor Buildings". Tudorhistory.org. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "About us". Tudor Barn Eltham. Retrieved 12 March 2014. "Tudor Barn Eltham is all that remains of the country mansion that was built for William Roper and Margaret More, daughter of Thomas More, Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII[,] and is surrounded by a medieval moat and nearby scented gardens. The venue is situated in thirteen acres of beautiful award winning gardens and has stood on this ancient site, which is connected historically with the Tudor Monarchs´ residence at nearby Eltham Palace, since 1525." 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tudor_architecture — Please support Wikipedia.
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Thu, 10 Jul 2014 06:15:12 -0700

The house was originally built in the 16th century, yet its interiors were extensively restored between the First and Second World Wars by Graham Baron Ash to create a fascinating 20th-century evocation of domestic Tudor architecture. Packwood House ...

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After they married, they transformed their riverfront property at 871 E. Beardsley Avenue in the mid-1930's into a storybook compound of romantic Tudor architecture, with garden flowers in profusion. Decades before “repurposed” salvage became ...
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Any new owner has to be able to afford a grand estate with Tudor architecture, stone exterior, an all-glass conservatory and artistic outbuildings. It's listed at $2,999,999. But that's just the start. May and his first wife, the late Barbara May ...


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