Tutor style? Tooter? Wait, it’s Tudor? Okay, I guess I never really knew the right name for those houses with white panels and large dark wooden beams through them, but I always knew that I liked the style. In reality, the specific aesthetic that I enjoy is called half-timbering, and that is what creates the distinctive style that is colloquially referred to as Tudor style (shown below).
Tudor style architecture gets its name from the House of Tudor, an English ruling family during the Tudor period (what a coincidence!) from 1485-1603. Tudor style is a subset of the overarching Medieval architectural style in England. From the Tudor style came a subset, called Elizabethan architecture, which was popular from 1560-1600.
While half-timbering was a common element in a lot of Tudor architecture, it was far from the only defining feature. Other notable features of the style include brick and stone, especially with half-timbering on the level above, depressed arches (also known as the Tudor arch), and brick chimneys. The chimney was actually a relatively new invention at the time.
An example of a Tudor building without the half-timbering that is so commonly seen is the Leeds Castle (shown above). We can see in this image that the castle is entirely made of stone, has a depressed arch in the front, and has square windows. Additionally, (while this is certainly not the original landscaping) the large, flat, manicured yard show here is common for the style. During the time period in which Tudor architecture was popular, landscaping was also quite common. Fountains began to become popular as well as angular landscape features and enclosed courtyards.
While not exclusive to the Tudor style in England, the depressed arch was extraordinarily popular in Tudor buildings. This arch is also called a 4-centered arch. The 4 comes from the fact that there are 4 distinct radii (2 on the left and 2 on the right which are symmetrical) used to achieve the shape. In the image above we can see that the bricks are straight on the sides, curve quite sharply (slightly above the top of the glass), then slacken out to come to a point. This shape is called depressed since it looks like someone sat on top of a regular arch and squished it out a bit. The implementation of this design allowed for less wasted space around square windows and doors.
Okay, so now that we know what the Tudor style actually is, let’s get back to its colloquial usage. As I mentioned above, the phrase “Tudor style” has largely come to mean a building with half-timber construction. So, what exactly is half-timber construction then?
Excellent question, me! Half-timber is a subset of timber framing in which the timber is left exposed on the exterior of the building with wall material, called infill, between the wood. This infill is non-structural but is commonly stone or brick (shown above). In the Tudor style the infill is often covered with a white plaster. A great example of this white plaster covered infill is shown below.
This is my dream home. Thanks for reading!
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