Houses are important elements in any society. As technology progresses in todays 21st century, homes are becoming more sophisticated with a lot of electronic gadgets to make a house truly a home. However, back in the 16th century, most people in England, lived in small quaint villages as farmers.
The evolution of technology changed the manner in which Tudor homes were built. As England became more affluent through its mining industry, homes were changed to be more exquisite and comfortable.
Although homes of the more affluent became more comfortable with a lot of modern amenities, the same could not be said for the poor in Tudor England.
Tudor Homes and Society
Tudor society comprised the nobility with massive land, the gentry and rich merchants who were well educated, the yeomen and craftsmen who owned and worked on their own land and the tenant farmers at the lowest rung. These farmers had to lease land from the rich to work on the land for a living. There were also the illiterate wage labourers who were very poor in society.
During the 16th century, the lower rungs of society comprised 50% of the total Tudor population that barely survived. But hard work and success can push up the society class of one. A husbandman could work hard to become a yeoman who could purchase a coat of arms to be pushed up the societal ladder as a gentleman.
Tudor homes in the Middle Ages were mainly designed for safety over comfort due to the constant invasion of enemies. When peace prevailed in the later years, houses took on a more aesthetic form with grand houses by rich Tudor homeowners. Middle class Tudors enjoyed sturdy homes that were built with timber. Their homes were designed with a timber frame that is filled with wickerwork and plaster. This makes it a half-timbered home until later in the century, these wooden frame houses were filled with bricks. Thatched roofs became popular while more affluent homeowners used tiles to avoid fire hazards.
Poor Tudors lived in simple huts that had only one or two rooms with hard earth floor and basic furniture that comprised benches, a table and wooden chests.
Tudor Furniture in Homes
Tudor homes had unique furniture, although the design was still considered basic during the Middle Ages. An affluent home in Tudor times would have oak furniture that is heavy and bulky. Such Tudor furniture could last for generations, although the younger generations may not appreciate such exquisitely crafted masterpieces.
Tudor beds were very comfortable in wealthy Tudor homes while a mattress stuffed with flock was often the bed in a middle class Tudor home.
Chairs were expensive during the Middle Ages where stools were commonly found even in upper class Tudor homes. The poor made do with benches.
Glass windows were only donned in Tudor homes during the 16th century, although they were expensive pieces. Moving house during that era would have the glass windows dismantled and taken along. Lattice windows were popular with strips of lead holding the pieces while the poor had to use linen strips soaked in linseed oil.
Designed For Practicality
Tudor homes with chimneys were considered a luxury, although many homes sported it for practicality. The big hall in an affluent house would naturally incorporate a chimney that would extend all the way through the roof. It is common for 16th century affluent houses to have two storeys with more rooms.
Rich Tudor homeowners had their room walls lined with oak panelling, not only for beauty, but also to keep out drafts. Four-poster beds with curtains were common to reduce drafts, especially during winter. Wallpaper was extremely expensive during the 16th century with only the wealthy hanging such tapestries on their walls.
Carpets were another luxury item which only the affluent could afford. These pieces were hung on the wall or placed over tables instead of on the floor as they were too expensive to be stepped on. Floors were usually covered with rushes or reeds instead of carpets. Sweet smelling herbs were strewn alongside for a fragrant aroma around the house.
Wealthy homeowners during the 16th century used beeswax candles to light their homes while the poor used rush lights that have been dipped in animal fat. Go to www.schooltudorvisit.co.uk
for more information.