The black and white appearance of housing has become very closely associated with the Tudor period – arguably it is the most widely recognised architectural style – in the world?
Perhaps this is why the header image at the top of ‘Tudor Stuff’ shows such a building (actually it is the side of Anne Hathaway’s cottage). As will be discussed on this blog at a later date, this association may not be completely accurate. However, in this post I decided to look at other features of period architecture.
In previous times, homes would burn wood on open fires in the middle of the house. The smoke from this was vented through an opening in the roof. Take a look at the picture at the top of this post – the Merchants house at Avoncroft museum. This house which was built in approximately 1558 did not have a chimney – note the opening on the left hand side of the roof.
As coal use became more widespread the need for chimneys to take away the increased smoke became necessary. Also, anyone who has ever tried to light a coal fire will know that the downdraft from the chimney is really important in getting the fire going.
At this time, a lot of land and property was passing from religious institutions to a new class of wealthy landowner. Many of these people built large houses and an important reason for these houses was to show off wealth and prestige. One way of doing this was to incorporate lots of chimneys into the design – coal was still relatively scarce & this was a way of demonstrating wealth.
Fire was an ever-present risk – especially amidst closely packed timber and thatched houses. Although some areas required people to have a bucket on standby, there was little in the way of fire fighting equipment or organisation.
In the long winters nights people would have gathered around the fire, partly for the warmth but also because this would have been one of the main sources of light.
A lot of superstitions grew up around fire – for example coals burning in a hollow heap is a sign that a parting is soon to occur. Cinders flying from the fire might mean a birth was to take place whereas in other areas it was the custom to spit on cinder – if it crackled this meant wealth was on the way.
Many of the chimneys in this period feature extravagant brickwork – brick making and layingbecame well recognised crafts during the Tudor period.
On big projects, bricks were made on site by specialist craftsmen. The bricks produced had a tendency to vary in size – necessitating quite thick layers of mortar to straighten things out.
In places bricks were deliberately discoloured to make elaborate patterns when laid – as can be seen in this example from Hampton Court.
If anyone knows of any good examples of Tudor structures & especially if there are any good pictures then please let me know – I would happily make some space on the blog for them.