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Tudor Architecture and The Many Faces of Tudor Houses

A guide to the English-derived houses of the late Victorian period.
By Patricia Poore

    Tudorbethan 1These English-inspired houses are part of the same architectural movement that spawned the English Queen Anne style, the Shingle Style, and American Queen Anne houses. They mark a transition between late Victorian sensibility and the beginning of modern architecture, including Arts & Crafts.

    Tudorbethan 2

    The 1904 house shown above was once advertised by a real-estate agent as “Gothic Revival.” Some might see allusions to the Shingle Style. Though this house has aspects of the Queen Anne, it’s not at all like the vertical, turreted, gingerbread Victorians of that style. Neither is it helpful simply to call it Tudor, a label associated with the squarish suburban homes (never shingled) of the 1920s and ’30s.

    With its clipped gable, long façade, steep roofs, attempt at half-timbering, and shallow oriels (window bays), such houses are vaguely Elizabethan (see definition below). So how about the melodious, not-entirely-serious title Tudorbethan?

    Interpreting Tudor

    Tudorbethan House Illustration

    Illustrations by Rob Leanna

    RIGHT: This house, built on a crag near the Atlantic in New England, suggests that the American Shingle Style is a variant of the English Queen Anne wrapped in wood. Steep intersecting gables, balconies, and the suggestion of timber framing mark its English antecedents.

    Tudorbethan House IllustrationLEFT: On a Long Island Arts & Crafts-era house designed in the Elizabethan Revival mode, motifs from the English and American Queen Anne styles recur.
    Tudorbethan House Illustration RIGHT: Distinctly Tudor elements define a shingled house built early in the 20th century.

    A Glossary of Tudor Styles

    Tudor: Refers to the first half of the 16th century and the reigns of the Tudor monarchs (1485–1558): Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary I. Like Elizabethan and Jacobean, Tudor falls between the Perpendicular Gothic before it and the classical Palladian style that would follow. Houses of the Tudor period are known for their domesticity; less like the fortresses of the past, they offered specialized rooms for study, dining, and sleeping. Finishes included linen-fold paneling and plaster relief ceilings. Mullioned (divided) windows and oriels, flattened Tudor arches, brickwork combined with half-timber construction, tall gables, and decorative chimneys predominated.

    Tudorbethan 3

    Tudor Gothic: Suggests the continuing influence of the Gothic during the early Tudor period. Turning their attention to domestic building, church craftsmen continued in the Gothic tradition but began to adapt Renaissance motifs. Heavy (timber) construction predominated.

    Elizabethan: The “golden era” defined by the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Literature and poetry flourished in this time of Shakespeare and the English Renaissance. The style designation “Tudor” is often assumed to include this period’s influence.

    Jacobean: A reference to the reign of King James I (1603–1625). It is the second, more obviously Renaissance period of English architecture, after the Elizabethan.

    Tudorbethan 4

    Jacobethan: A word coined in the 1930s to refer to English Revival architecture after 1830 that combined elements of Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture. In the early 20th century, American “baronial” houses were called Jacobethan.

    Tudor Revival: Understood to be a conscious, romantic revival of late- and post-medieval vernacular architecture, starting with designer William Morris and architect Richard Norman Shaw in England during the 19th century. The sweeping, so-named Tudor Revival in America was an Anglophile phenomenon in the suburbs of the 1920s and later. Another Tudor Revival occurred during the 1970s; those houses were often called Mock Tudor.

    Stockbroker Tudor: A pointed reference to the bourgeois houses of the 1920s built by conservative new money.

    For ideas on appropriate interiors for Tudorbethan houses, see the Queen Anne style guide.

    Recommended Reading

    Arts & Crafts Homes of Great Britain
    By Brian D. Coleman (Gibbs Smith, 2005)
    A guide to the great Arts & Crafts houses of England’s vernacular revival period.

    Tudor Style: Tudor Revival Houses in America from 1890 to the Present
    By Lee Goff (Universe Publishing, 2002)
    From New York to Lake Forest (IL) and St. Louis to Los Angeles, here are notable Tudor houses that span decades, including new houses in the English Tudor mold. The first and only book devoted to American Tudor style.

    The English House: English Country Houses and Interiors
    By Sally Griffiths & Simon McBride (Rizzoli, 2004)
    Real English houses from the Georgian Palladian era to 20th-century cottages. Good for background in English architectural motifs and decorating.


    Susan B. Goodwin February 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Tudor Style: Tudor Revival Houses in America from 1890 to the Presemt

    The English House: English Country Houses and Interiors

    Susan B. Goodwin February 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Both books will provide us with guidance in restoring our 1929 Tudor style – very valuable to us

    Jane Cormuss September 12, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    So well written! Thank you for this very handy point of reference. I am doing research in preparation to outfit a doll house.

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