Tudorbethan architecture / Tudor Revival

14 Jul
The George W. Ellis House (1902), Hartford, Connecticut. A house in the Tudor Revival style was built on Prospect Street in Hartford in 1902 for George W. Ellis, who worked at Travelers Insurance Company. It has the diamond paned leaded windows and decorative half-timbering typical of the style, with a more unusual double front gable. The John Schwab House (1896), Hartford, Connecticut. The John Schwab House, on Prospect Street in New Haven, was designed in the Tudor Revival style by R. Clipson Sturgis. Schwab was a professor of political economy at Yale who later became Librarian of Yale University. The Charles Cheney House (1851), Hartford, Connecticut. The Charles Cheney House was built in the Tudor style. Tax records indicate it was built in 1851, but may have a later date, when the Tudor Revival style was popular.
     
Ascott House, Buckinghamshire. A "simple cottage" designed circa 1876 by George Devey. An early example of Tudorbethan
Ascott House, Buckinghamshire. A “simple cottage” designed circa 1876 by George Devey. An early example of Tudorbethan

The Tudorbethan Style, also called Mock Tudor in the 20th century, first manifested itself in domestic architecture in the United Kingdom in the mid to late 19th century. It later became an influence in some other countries, especially the British colonies such as New Zealand where the architect Francis Petre adapted the style for the local climate. The earliest examples of the style originate with the works of such eminent architects as Norman Shaw and George Devey, in what at the time was thought of as a neo-Tudor design. The term “Tudorbethan” is modelled on John Betjeman’s 1933 coinage of the “Jacobethan” style, which he used to describe the grand mixed revival style of ca 1835–1885 that had been called things like “Free English Renaissance”. “Tudorbethan” took it a step further, eliminated the hexagonal or many-faceted towers and mock battlements of Jacobethan, and applied the more domestic styles of “Merrie England”, which were cosier and quaint.

Identifying Tudorbethan
The emphasis was on the simple, rustic and the less impressive aspects of Tudor architecture, imitating in this way the medieval cottages or country houses. Though the style follows these more modest characteristics, items such as steeply pitched roofs, half-timbering often infilled with herringbone brickwork, tall mullioned windows, high chimneys, jettied (overhanging) first floors above pillared porches, dormer windows supported by consoles, and even at times thatched roofs, gave Tudorbethan its more striking effects.

Evolution
The Tudorbethan style was a reaction to the ornate Victorian Gothic revival of the second half of the 19th century. Rejecting mass production that was beginning to be introduced by industry at that time, the Arts and Crafts movement, closely related to Tudorbethan, drew on simple design inherent in aspects of its more ancient styles, Tudor, Elizabethan and Jacobean.

Cragside designed by Norman Shaw in what he called a "Free Tudor" style
Cragside designed by Norman Shaw in what he called a “Free Tudor” style

The Tudor style made one of its first appearances in Britain at Cragside, a hilltop mansion of eclectic architectural styles, but incorporating certain Tudor features; Cragside was designed by the architect Norman Shaw. However Shaw also designed at approximately the same time Leyswood near Withham, in Sussex a large mansion around a courtyard, complete with mock battlements, towers, half timbered upper facades and tall chimneys— all features quite readily associated with Tudor architecture; in Shaw’s hands this less fantastical style achieved immediate maturity. Confusingly, it was then promptly named “Queen Anne style” when in reality it combined a revival of Elizabethan and Jacobean design details including mullioned and oriel windows. Later the style began to incorporate the classicising pre-Georgian features that are generally understood to represent “Queen Anne” in Britain. The term “Queen Anne” for this style of architecture tends to be more commonly used in the USA than in Britain, in the USA it evolved into a form of architecture not instantly recognisable as that constructed in either the Tudor, or Queen Anne period. In Britain the style remained closer to its Tudor roots.

Half-timbering
From the 1880s onwards Tudorbethan concentrated more on the simple but quaintly picturesque Elizabethan cottage, rather than the brick and battlemented splendours of Hampton Court or Compton Wynyates. Large and small houses alike with half timbering in their upper storeys and gables were completed with tall ornamental chimneys, in what was originally a simple cottage style. It was here that the influences of the arts and crafts movement became apparent.

However, Tudorbethan cannot really be likened to the timber-framed structures of the originals in which the frame supported the whole weight of the house. Their modern counterparts consist more likely of bricks or blocks of various materials with a look-alike frame added on the outside which is really then deprived of its functional and structural weight-bearing role. An example of this is this “simple cottage” style is Ascott House in Buckinghamshire. This was designed by Devey for the Rothschild family who were among the earliest patrons and promoters of this style.

Built circa 1870 two semi-detached cottages at Mentmore masquerade as one Tudor style  house.
Built circa 1870 two semi-detached cottages at Mentmore masquerade as one Tudor style house.

Some more enlightened landlords at this time became more aware of the needs for proper sanitation and housing for their employees, and some estate villages were rebuilt to resemble what was thought to be an idyllic Elizabethan village, often grouped around a village green and pond, Mentmore in Buckinghamshire is an example of this. The Tudor revival though now concentrated on the picturesque.

A very well-known example of the idealised half-timbered style is Liberty’s department store in London, which was built in the style of a vast half-timbered Tudor mansion, the store specialised, among other goods, in fabrics and furnishings by the leading designers of the arts and crafts movement.

20th century TudorbethanLutyens' houses, here quite conventional in 1899, were to evolve still further from their Tudorbethan roots.

Lutyens’ houses, here quite conventional in 1899, were to evolve still further from their Tudorbethan roots.


In the early part of the century, one of the exponents who developed the style further was Edwin Lutyens (1864–1944). At The Deanery in Berkshire, 1899, (right), where the client was the editor of the influential magazine Country Life, details like the openwork brick balustrade, the many-paned oriel window and facetted staircase tower, the shadowed windows under the eaves, or the prominent clustered chimneys were conventional Tudorbethan borrowings, some of which Lutyens was to remake in his own style, that already predominates in the dark recessed entryway, the confident massing, and his signature semi-circular terrace steps. This is Tudorbethan at its best, free in groundplan, stripped of cuteness, yet warmly vernacular in effect, familiar though new, eminently livable.

Later came Mackey Hugh Baillie Scott (1865–1945) and Blair Imrie who made their names as Tudorbethans. Lutyens though took the style away from what is generally understood as Tudorbethan creating a further highly personalised style of his own. His buildings coupled with their often accompanying gardens by Gertrude Jekyll, while in a style thought of as “olde world” would not be recognisable to inhabitants of the 16th century.

Following World War I many London outer suburbs had developments of houses in the style, all reflecting the taste for nostalgia for rural values. It was also copied in many areas of the world, including the United States and Canada.

In the first half of the 20th-century, increasingly minimal “Tudor” references for “instant” atmosphere in speculative construction cheapened the style, which was finally epitomized in John Betjeman’s angry war-time poem “Slough”, where “bald young clerks” gather:

And talk of sport and makes of cars 
In various bogus-Tudor bars 
And daren’t look up and see the stars”. 

Interiors
The interiors of the Tudor style building have evolved considerably along with the style, often becoming truer to the replicated era than were the first examples of the revival style. At Ascott House, Devey’s great masterpiece constructed throughout the last twenty years of the 19th century, the only internal concessions to the Tudor age are the low ceilings necessitated through the external Tudor theme. There are certainly no beamed ceilings, low narrow doorways or inglenook fireplaces heating small rooms: the large airy rooms are in fact more redolent of the 18th century than the 16th. Cragside is slightly more true to its theme, although the rooms are very large, some contain Tudor style panelling, and the dining room contains are monumental inglenook, but this is more in the style of Italian renaissance meets Camelot than Tudor. While in the cottages at Mentmore the interiors are no different to those of any lower middle-class Victorian small household.

In some of the larger Tudor style houses the Tudor great hall would be suggested by the reception hall, often furnished as a sitting or dining room. Large wooden staircases of several flights were often prominently positioned, based on Jacobean prototypes. It is this mingling of styles that has led to the term Jacobethan which resulted in houses such as Harlaxton Manor which bore little if any resemblance to a building from either period.

More often it is in the Tudor style houses of the late 20th century that a greater devotion to the Tudor period is found, albeit coupled with modern-day comforts. Artificially aged and blackened beams are attached to ceilings and walls purely for decoration, while artificial flames leap from wrought iron fire-dogs in an inglenook often a third of the size of the room in which they are situated.

21st-century Tudorbethan

Tudorbethan is not popular with modernist architects and is frequently reviled as pastiche or indeed non-architecture. However it is much more popular than modern styles with much of the British public, and this split can be seen as evidence of the estrangement of the architectural establishment from public taste.

In the early 21st century United Kingdom, new Tudorbethan housing still predominates, as “Colonial” dominates in the US, although this often perfunctory in execution. Even traditionalists who approve of the use of historical styles in contemporary architecture regret that most Tudorbethan architecture these days is adulterated with other styles and therefore flawed. However they would argue that the intellectual intimidation of those who demand traditional styles from the architectural establishment, and the resultant marginalisation of architects who are interested in them, is itself one of the principal causes of the tendency towards banality which is derided by modernists. Even though the architectural establishment has been attempting to suppress the popular preference for traditional styles for several generations, it has had little success to date, and there is little reason to suppose that it will be more successful in the future. This standoff is not conducive to the construction of quality housing because commercial housebuilders are obliged to respond to public taste that is often conditioned by a romantic traditional-looking cottage style idealism, and therefore houses are completed largely without the participation of high calibre architects.

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