Tudor Architecture: Style Houses, Characteristics & More

Tudor Architecture is a style of architecture that evolved in England within 1485 and 1558. It was a transitional fashion, mixing parts of Renaissance design with a Gothic form found often in England called Perpendicular Gothic because it emphasized perpendicular lines. Tudor architecture was seen in England, Scotland, and other parts of the British Isles, including Ireland.

Tudor architecture got its title from the fact that it happened during the first part of the reign of Tudor kings, including Henry VII and Henry VIII. This time span in England was one of economic success and often peaceful relationships with other countries in Europe. Because of the wealth, landowners were capable to add to existing family properties or build new large mansion houses.

A manor house was a country house that also worked as the administrative center of an estate, which might have had wide area and tenants operating on it. Examples of such buildings included Hampton Court and Hardwick Hall, both of which were predominantly stone or brick in building. Tudor architecture could also be found in bustling business areas.

But the characteristic that became most connected with the Tudor style was ‘black and white’ building. Black and white intended half-timber houses with white-washed wall sections between the dark timbers. An example of a manor house done is this style is Bramall Hall near Greater Manchester, England. In England, Tudor architecture fell out of courtesy by the mid-16th century as Elizabethan architecture rose in influence. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Tudor Architecture

Tudor Architecture

Tudor Architecture: Style Houses

Tudor style buildings have many features that divide them from Medieval and later 17th-century design. The earliest signs of the Renaissance appear under Henry VII; whereas most of his building projects are no longer being, it is really under him and not his son that the Renaissance began to flower in England.

Evidenced by ample records of what was made and where, materials used, new features in growing that did not at all fit the model of the old medieval walled garden, letters from the king showing his wishes and those of his wife’s in the case of Greenwich Palace, as well as his own shown interest in the New Learning.

One of the best samples of a Tudor house in Montgomery County, Maryland, is the landmark Newlands/Corby Mansion in Chevy Chase at the juncture of Chevy Chase Circle, Connecticut Avenue, and Brookville Road. The home has a kind of characteristics that make it a extremely stylized Tudor, including dormers; richly colored chimneys; uncoursed stone; half-timbering; wide, decorated verge boards; and a stone porte-cochere.

Characteristics of Tudor Architecture

  1. Steeply Plunged Gable Roof: The roof on Tudor homes has always been a distinctive feature of Tudor architecture. The roof is gabled and totally steep, usually clad with slate and small dormers.  The main gable is often joined with one or two sides or cross gables which form an attractive shape.  In this Port Washington home, the pitch of the roof above each window, in particular, remembers the pitch of the two rooflines.
  2. Decorative Half-Timbering: Tudor architecture is recognized for its half-timbering as it produces a beautiful black or brown and white outside. Centuries ago, half-timbering was required to build multiple stories in a house because architects & builders didn’t have the instruments to use stone. They built wooden frames and packed them with stucco, which left the wooden posts shown, creating the traditional Tudor exterior. Today, this style is often used decoratively on the North Shore of Long Island to replicate the style of Tudor architecture.
  3. Mixed Use of Building Materials: Tudor architecture uses different building materials, including stucco, stone, bricks, and wood. The first floor of a Tudor house is usually times formulated using stone and bricks, while stuccos and wood are used for the top floors. American Tudor homes on the North Shore of Long Island use often brick with false half-timbering and stone brims as ornamental features.
  4. Large Groupings of Windows: The windows in a Tudor are also pretty appreciable as many Tudors have casement windows. The windows are essentially grouped in rows of three or more and are built primarily in wood or metal. The windows are normally divided in rectangular panes and sometimes provided in a diamond pattern. In the main gables, the windows are usually placed symmetrically.
  5. Attention to Detail in the Entrance: The front door of a Tudor home on the North Shore of Long Island frequently times features an arrangement of various architectural components arranged asymmetrically. Some of these pieces are placed for decorative purposes, while others are there to strengthen safety. Thick masonry is used to recess the door or project a window or roof over the door to prevent weather damage. The embroideries and aesthetic features range from old and luxurious metal hardware to beautifying glass inlays. Board-and-batten doors, arched openings, and cut stone are also popular features.
  6. Beautiful Chimneys: Tudor architecture is also identified for large chimneys. In the 16th century, a huge chimney was a necessity. While this was a requirement to keep the house warm in medieval times, it became a different part of Tudor architecture. Chimneys were essentially made of either brick or stucco and had beautiful chimney pots. This feature is still replicated in modern Tudor homes on the North Shore of Long Island. Today, a functional wood-burning fireplace is a transfer point that many homeowners on the North Shore desire.

Tudor Revival Architecture

Largely ignored for three centuries, the Tudor style repeated in the United States in the early 1900s but built using the same wood-framing techniques used to construct other homes of the era—no heavy timbers needed. Americans included the Tudor style, building new homes that combined some of the old-world design elements with modern home-building systems.

Cousins of the Stick-style house, Tudor Revivals eschewed authentic half-timber construction and often featured brick or stone walls on the first story, and upper floors that were stud-framed and coated with a veneer of stucco and beautifying faux timbers.

Cross gables were generally included in the plans, as were typically Tudor highlights like steep rooflines and gabled windows with leaded-glass mullions. The conventional thatched roof, however, was followed by slate. Interiors included such Tudor-style elements as decorative pointed ceilings, arched doorways, plaster walls, and detailed wooden staircases.

These Tudor Revival homes, also known as “Mock Tudor” and “Jacobean” (after King James of Scotland), use strips of boards, interlarded with stucco or masonry cladding, on the exterior to mimic the traditional half-timbering effect. Tudor Revival reputation reached its height in the 1920s but gradually declined as the Great Depression swept the nation. By the time WWII arrived, Tudor Revival construction was all but over, having been displaced by smaller, more modest homes.

How to Recognize a Tudor Revival House

Traditional Tudor houses are normally large and placed on oversized lots, some as big as half a city block. They are easily identified by their following characteristics:

  • Steeply vaulted roofs and many gables.
  • Two or three stories high.
  • Rectangular pattern.
  • Half-timbered exterior front used in conjunction with stucco or beautifying brickwork.
  • Cantilevered (overhanging) second story stretching over a large balcony.
  • Tall windows with multiple square- or diamond-shaped panes; some are leaded glass.
  • Tall fine brick chimneys.
  • Chunky iron door ware that allows a Medieval look.
  • Earth-tone cladding colors (tan, brown, buff).
  • Thatched roofs (rare).
  • Asymmetrical floor plans.
  • Interiors with (faux) displayed ceiling beams overhead.
  • Oversized, stained wood showing, including wainscoting and trim.
  • Jetties, or overhangs produced when the second floor extends behind the dimensions of the first (a feature made popular in cities where the first-floor footprint was limited by the street outside.)

Smaller Tudor Houses

Due to the cost of building a full-size Tudor Revival house, smaller homes of the time, sometimes named “Tudor Cottages,” were built in traditional home style but included various Tudor hallmarks, such as:

  • One and a half tales with a square or rectangular floor plan.
  • Steep roof angles, some with roof lines that increase within just a few feet of the ground.
  • A single tall decorative chimney.
  • Brick or stone siding with a decorative half-timbered façade above the first story.
  • Big windows with many panes.
  • Thatched roofs (rare).
  • Stone or brick-lined entryways.
  • Interior wood showing.

Where Tudor Houses Located

During their height of fame, most of the large Tudor houses were made in the Northeast and the Midwest. Many have been replaced, and you’ll find them in historical areas, alongside other grand house styles of their day, including Queen Anne and Victorian. Small Tudor homes can be found in the same neighborhoods, but many of the present ones have been modernized with new cladding, which covers the original decorative half-timbering, making it more difficult to identify the unique style.

Famous Tudor Examples

While grand Tudor Revival homes are in many areas, the most fully-known examples of this architectural style are commercial rather than residential. The following buildings have been wonderfully preserved.

The Adams Building

Erected in 1890 and one of the first Tudor Revival buildings to be built in the US, the Adams Building, found in Quincy, Massachusetts, is one of the best-known representatives of Tudor design. The building housed merchants on its ground floor while giving residential apartments on the upper floors. Built by John Quincy Adams II, grandson of President John Quincy Adams, the structure was so large it had to be constructed in two stages.

The Adams Building highlights the hallmarks of Tudor style, including beautifying half-timbering, a steep roofline with multiple gables, and tall ornate chimneys.

The Astor Home For Children

Developed by New York businessman and philanthropist Vincent Astor in 1914, the large estate was planned to support children who were healing from illness. The Astor House (also named the “Little Red Schoolhouse”) sits on a large 18-acre estate in Rhinebeck, New York, has been thoughtfully restored over the decades, visiting true to detail, and making itself a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

It features a unique high-pitch roof, with elegant chimneys that rise tall above the peak. Its brick appearance and majestic tall windows are visible hallmarks of Tudor Revival architecture.

FAQ’s

What Makes A Tudor House A Tudor House?
Tudor Homes Are Characterized By Their Steeply Pitched Gable Roofs, Playfully Elaborate Masonry Chimneys (Often With Chimney Pots), Embellished Doorways, Groupings Of Windows, And Decorative Half-timbering (This Last An Exposed Wood Framework With The Spaces Between The Timbers Filled With Masonry Or Stucco).
What Were Tudor Houses Made Of?
Nails, A Tall Chimney, A Steep Roof And An Enclosed Fireplace. The Walls Between The Timber Frame Were Made From Wattle And Daub, Which Was Wood Strips Or Sticks Covered With Clay And Dung. The Walls Were Often Whitewashed. Most Tudor Houses Had A Thatched Roof, Although Rich People Could Afford To Use Tiles.
Are Tudor Houses Expensive?
Although The Popularity Of These Homes Peaked Back In The 1930S, Construction Of Tudor-style Homes Still Takes Place Today. They Are Among The More Expensive Popular Home Type, Costing More Than 2½ Times More Than The Average Ranch-style Property.
Why Are They Called The Tudors?
The Tudors Were Originally From Wales, But They Were Not Exactly Of Royal Stock. The Dynasty Began With A Rather Scandalous Secret Marriage Between A Royal Attendant, Named Owain Ap Maredydd Ap Tudur, And The Dowager Queen Catherine Of Valois, Widow Of King Henry V.
How Many Rooms Did A Tudor House Have?
Many Had Mazes, Fountains And Topiary (Hedges Cut Into Shapes). Less Well Off People Used Their Gardens To Grow Vegetables And Herbs. However Poor Tudors Continued To Live In Simple Houses With One Or Two Rooms (Occasionally Three).
What Were Poor Tudor Houses Made Of?
Their Houses Were Made Out Of Straw And Many Other Things, Including And Dung And Mud. The Houses Were Very Simple. A Fire In The Middle Of The House Is Where All The People Would Cook. They Would Have A Couple Of Pots And Pans.
What Did Tudors Use For Toilet Paper?
Toilet Paper Was Unknown In The Tudor Period. Paper Was A Precious Commodity For The Tudors – So They Used Salt Water And Sticks With Sponges Or Mosses Placed At Their Tops, While Royals Used The Softest Lamb Wool And Cloths.
Why Are Tudor Houses Wonky?
The Lack Of Furnishing And Decoration Throughout, Gives Visitors An Almost Unique Opportunity To Study Tudor Building Techniques And Architecture. The Lopsided Appearance Is Largely Due To The Fact That The Entire South Wing Has Little Or No Foundation.
What Colour Were Tudor Houses?
Tudor Houses Are Famous For Their Black And White Effect. Most Ordinary Houses Had A Black-painted Timber Frame With The Spaces Between Filled With Wattle-and-daub Which Was Often Painted Over With Limewash To Make It Look White.