The age of the Tudors saw the decline of the highly defensive British Castles - comfort was the key as opposed to the power bases and strongholds of nobles. King Henry VIII made various political and social changes to England ensuring that the throne was never threatened by powerful nobles. It was even necessary to gain permission to build decorative crenellations to new Tudor mansions. Castles were therefore replaced by sumptuous palaces and Tudor mansions. Tudor mansions were built primarily as luxurious residences of the wealthy.
The style of Tudor mansions had shifted from the pointed, ornate Gothic style of the Middle Ages to the plainer Renaissance style, which was symmetrical. The emphasis in the architecture of Tudor Mansions was placed on a horizontal rather than vertical line. The features of typical Tudor mansions included quaint gables, small mullioned windows and an array of ornate, spiralled brick chimneys in various designs.
Brick Built Buildings and Mansions
Only the most wealthy Tudors, at the very top of the social scale, could afford to build in brick which was seen in new Tudor mansions as the new, fashionable, luxury material. Bricks were often laid in a herringbone pattern and served as a decorative infill without any structural function. Chimneys and enclosed fireplaces were another striking feature of Tudor mansions. The increased use of chimneys during the Tudor period was due to the widespread adoption of coal as fuel as opposed to wood. Coal produced more smoke which needed to escape via the fireplaces, flues and chimneys.
Mansions and Gatehouses
The great Tudor mansions featured highly decorative and imposing gatehouses. The function of these gatehouses, unlike those in castles, were purely decorative and designed to create an impressive entrance and an indication of wealth. The entry gatehouses of Tudor mansions consisted of a broad, low arch with tall towers on either side. These towers are decorated with ornate false battlements and family coat of arms or initials carved into the stone facades.
Types of Rooms in Mansions
The different rooms in mansions included the following:
- The main meeting and dining area and used by everyone who lived in the Manor House
- The Kitchens included cooking ovens for baking and huge fireplaces
- The Buttery was intended for storing and dispensing drinks
- The Pantry was intended for the storage of perishable food
- Storerooms - Their were often several storerooms in the Tudor Mansion which were used to store non-perishable kitchen items and products
- Rooms intended for sleeping
- Private sitting room for the family
- Mansions also included various out houses such as barns, stables, hen-houses, pig stys and dairy
- Lighting in the 15th and 16th century Mansions consisted of Rush Dips, Candles, Torches and Lanterns
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