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Tudor Architecture: History & Style

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Have you ever seen a 'black and white' house? When it comes to architecture, that phrase refers to more than paint colors. In this lesson, we will explore the history and style of Tudor architecture.

What is Tudor Architecture?

Have you ever walked through an older suburban neighborhood and seen distinctive houses that appeared black and white with a pattern that somewhat resembled zebra stripes? You might have been seeing Tudor or Tudor Revival architecture.

Distinctive black and white appearance of Tudor architecture on a Tudor structure in England
Black and white appearance of Tudor architecture

Tudor architecture is a style of architecture that developed in England between 1485 and 1558. It was a transitional style, mixing elements of Renaissance architecture with a Gothic style found mostly in England called Perpendicular Gothic because it emphasized vertical lines. Tudor architecture was found in England, Scotland, and other parts of the British Isles, including Ireland.

History of Tudor Architecture

Tudor architecture gained its name from the fact that it developed during the first part of the reign of Tudor monarchs, including Henry VII and Henry VIII. This time period in England was a one of economic prosperity and mostly peaceful relations with other countries in Europe. Because of the wealth, landowners were able to add to existing family estates or build new large manor houses. A manor house was a country house that also served as the administrative center of an estate, which might have had wide acreage and tenants working on it. Examples of such structures included Hampton Court and Hardwick Hall, both of which were predominantly stone or brick in construction. Tudor architecture could also be found in bustling commercial areas. But the characteristic that became most associated with the Tudor style was 'black and white' construction. Black and white meant half-timber houses with white-washed wall segments between the dark timbers. An example of a manor house done is this style is Bramall Hall near Greater Manchester, England.

Bramall Hall near Greater Manchester, England
Bramall Hall

In England, Tudor architecture fell out of favor by the mid-16th century as Elizabethan architecture rose in prominence. But that wasn't the end of the story.

Tudor Revival Architecture

From the 1890s through 1940, architects in the United States built houses in a style that came to be called Tudor Revival. Based on earlier Tudor architecture, Tudor Revival gained popularity in wealthier suburban neighborhoods in places like Washington D.C. It was very popular during the 1920s, and was sometimes referred to as 'Stockbroker Tudor.' Why? The homes, with exposed timbers and masonry chimneys, were expensive to build. People had to be prosperous to afford a Tudor Revival home. Almost 500 years later, this echoed the dynamic in Tudor England when the style first developed.

Example of Tudor Revival architecture
Example of Tudor Revival

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