Sunday, 29 January 2012

Tudor in Miniature

Well as this is a blog about miniatures, I couldn't forget to include some Tudor ones here could I? Above is the Tudor Hall from the Thorne Room Collection (one of the finest miniatures collections in the world!). Look at that ceiling, it's amazing! The feature at the end of the room is called a screens passage, and the area above it  is called a minstrels' gallery. Note the panelling and ornate carving. Not sure how 'authentic' the floor tiles are, but they look good here.

Now, we may not all be able to have a room set from the Thorne room Collection, but I will show you some of the great miniatures available to purchase, so that you can create your very own Tudor doll's house!


 A great throne style arm chair, with a nice carved detail and lovely turned legs and arm rests, perfect for the Tudor period. This is solid mahogany and available as a kit form McQueenie Miniatures (see below for details of websites).

 This bench is also by McQueenie Miniatures, again typical of the type of furniture form the period. A smaller stool of the same design is also available.

Sorry for the small picture here, but I wanted to show you the fantastic work available from Pear Tree Miniatures. This is a hand made X frame chair with green leather upholstery and gold fringing. This would have been a very high status piece of furniture, perfect for your Tudor palace!


Another beautiful miniature from Pear Tree Miniatures, again, sorry it's such a small picture,  I wish you could see the fine hand carved detail. It would fit in perfectly inside a model of Hardwick Hall!

 This table is a McQueenie Miniature. Nicely turned legs and solid mahogany too. McQueenie kits are easy to assemble, they don't require any wood stain, just a light sanding and polish once glued together. Buying them in kit form saves you money too! This table would also work well in an early 17th century room setting, but more of that in the future!

And for those great Tudor feasts?

No Tudor Noble's feast would be without a roast Boar's head and roast peacock (yes they really did cook them, then put the feathers back!!) This one is from Country Contrast (no roasting required!)

 Ann High produces miniature furniture and accessories from the Tudor period. She makes a great selection of slip ware jogs, plates and pots, which were popular during the Tudor period and beyond.

  She also sell a range of glasses based on original Tudor designs. Glassware was another high status product.

 Pewter was all the rage during the Tudor period. These great miniatures are made of real pewter by Tony Knott, who sells a wide range of objects perfect for the period. I can just picture that large jug filled with ale, mead or wine, being poured into one of those lovely pewter goblets!


A lovely carved chest by McQueenie Miniatures. I love the carved detail on this chest, which would have been used to store blankets, clothes etc.

 This Tudor aumbry is also by McQueenie Miniatures. This would have been a piece of high status furniture, they were usually decorated with beautiful carving.

 This piece of furniture is called a court cupboard again by McQueenie Miniatures, a great place to display your fine pewter and silver!!

 A beautiful Gothic style cupboard by Pear Tree Miniatures with amazing carved detail. this is a wonderful piece of furniture, a great addition to any Tudor dolls house!


This four poster bed is made by Shepherd Miniatures, note the linen fold design on the bed tester.

 I love this highly decorated bed by Pear Tree Miniatures, it is both hand carved and painted. just imagine it with some colourful drapes and blankets on it! Do you see the ropes? That is how the mattress was supported, the ropes had to be tightened each night before going to sleep; the origin of the phrase 'sleep tight' the second part of that phrase 'don't let the bed bugs bite' meant exactly that too!!

 Another four poster bed, this one by Tony Knott. This bed also has linen fold carving and some nicely turned bedposts.


 I tried to find some suitable miniature tapestries, like the ones in Hardwick Hall, but there don't seem to be many about. The one above is a kit by Nicola Mascall, it would work quite well in a Tudor room, though it is more British Arts and Crafts style really (think William Morris).

This fire back by Tony Knott has a date that fits perfectly into teh Tudor period, and would look great set within one of those huge Tudor fireplaces!

This  pewter candle stick, again by Tony Knott is just right for use in a Tudor room set. the heavy bottom would have kept it nice and stable.

And this candelabra by Tont Knott would also work very well in a Tudor setting! I love fact the candles are designed to look used with wax drops and burnt wicks.

The two room sets above are made by Tony Knott (him again!!). They demonstrate how you can create a Tudor style room using some of the pieces listed above, but I am sure you will all have your own ideas, I know I have!!


One for Fiona!

And two very good blogs on the subject of Tudor miniatures

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Tudor and Elizabethan Interiors

As interior design has changed over the 400-500 years since the Tudors, it is hard to find truly authentic interiors, however, by looking at rooms that have been recreated, rooms that have stood the test of time, and individual pieces of furniture it is possible to make a reasonable guess as to what thing might have looked like.

The picture above is a design  by Hans Holbein for a fireplace for Henry VIII. I don't know if it was ever actually created, but you can see that it is highly decorated, with rich carved detail and those classical elements which were slowing creeping in from Europe. It is also HUGE! This was a feature of many fireplaces in the Tudor period, but only for the very rich of course!

In the early Tudor period a country squire or lord of the manor was probably living much as he had done in the Medieval period, with daily life focused mostly within the great hall. It was during the reign of Henry VIII that the families of these households began to retreat further into their own private rooms. Houses were extended and the great hall became less important. Sometimes an extra floor was inserted, reducing the height of the hall, to make private rooms above for the family. These private rooms were often referred to as the solar.

Furniture was fairly simple for all but the very wealthy, simple benches, stools, and settles with a table or two. The fire place was replacing the open fire in the centre of the hall by this time too.

There isn't a great deal of comfort evident in these rooms. Soft furnishings were rare, but beds were becoming more common in houses by this time. having said that, even these weren't always comfortable, and were usually shared. It was still an expensive item, so only those with the means could afford them. Sometimes a pull out bed was stored beneath the main bed, known as a truckle bed, and might have been used by a trusted servant, whilst the master or mistress slept in the main bed.

Here are some illustrations of furniture you might have found in a Tudor home. Note how the wood is carved with lots of decorative motifs, the Tudors liked their decoration!

This is typical of the type of door used in many buildings during the Tudor period. The arch way is even called a Tudor arch! Walls were often panelled with wood. This again was often decorated, sometimes with carved details, a particularly popular design was called 'linenfold' which as the name suggests was designed to look like folded linen.

and sometimes the panelling would be painted

So the wealthier Tudor did begin to enjoy a little comfort in the home! as the picture above shows. Bigger windows also allowed more daylight into the rooms. Tapestries were also frequently used as wall coverings in wealthy Tudor houses.

Life was not quite so comfortable for the servants.

Some examples of Tudor kitchens. I think the last one is actually a reconstruction of a Tudor cottage interior.

This picture is taken from Wolsey's private apartment at Hampton Court Palace, I love the ceiling in this room! Note the linen fold panelling and Tudor arches!

This is the Long Gallery at Hardwick Hall. The great Elizabethan houses were often built with long galleries, which were used for taking exercise. Much of the furniture in this room is from a later date, but the fire place is Elizabethan, and you may be able to see the tapestries on the wall on the left of the picture, which are original, purchased in 1592, but dating back further than that.

Tapestries were not only decorative, they also had a practical use in keeping out cold and draughts. The cabinet above is the sort of furniture that you might have found in wealthy Elizabethan houses. Flemish tapestries, particularly those made in Brussels were highly prized.

This picture is from the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall. Above the tapestries is a plaster work frieze, with raised details. it shows a hunting scene within a wood, and includes Diana the hunter. There are several rather exotic animals depicted, including elephants, camels and  lions as well as deer and hares. The tapestries here were purchased in 1572, but not hung until 1601. It's worth noting that the colours have faded a great deal over hundreds of years, the colours would have been quite vivid at the time! The canopy is a 19th century addition.

This picture is the Great Hall at Longleat. It has another great decorative fireplace and some rather subdued panelling. It is a large room, but would not have been used regularly by the family or servants.

This is the Great Bed of Ware. A famous Elizabethan bed, now displayed at the V&A museum in London. It is much larger than it looks in this picture, in fact it's huge! It may not be typical of beds from the period, but they would certainly have had bed curtains to keep out the cold air. Note the bright colours, these are the sort of colours that would have been popular in Elizabethan England! This bed was probably made for a tavern rather than a private house.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Period Style: Tudor and Elizabethan Details

Hopefully, the last few posts have got you inspired to think about a Tudor or Elizabethan doll's house for one of your future projects. If so, I thought I'd mention some of the characteristic details of houses from this period.

Many buildings were timber framed, the beams weren't usually evenly cut, in simple cottages, but in finer buildings more care would have been taken. Don't forget that beams were not really blackened with tar until much later, so it's ok to use natural wood and leave it with a simple wax finish. Oak was usually used, and this would turn silvery grey over time.

This picture shows the wattle and daub that was used to fill in the timber frame. wattle are the wooden laths that you see on the left, woven over each other. the daub could be made from various ingredients including clay or lime or chalk, straw of hair and sand, chalk or earth. Animal dung was also often added to the mixture. Once dried it was usually painted with whitewash to help keep it watertight.

Brick, flint or stone was sometimes used to fill in the timber frames too, like this house above. Roofs were either thatched, with reeds, grasses or straw, or in clay rich areas of the county, roof tiles were often used. Tyler Hill near Canterbury, Kent, was named after the tile works built there, which made many of the decorative floor tiles used in the cathedral. Recent archaeological research has found remains of the original kilns along with some of the tiles made there.

Another characteristic of timber framed buildings is the jetty. the upper storey of the building projects beyond the storey below, resting on the beams and joists of the lower storey. Where a jetty projects on more than one side a 'dragon beam' would be set diagonally at the corners.

Carved detail and figures were often used on buildings too, particularly those of higher status, like the corbel pictured above.

Barge boards might also have been highly decorated on high status buildings, this comes from Little Moreton Hall.

Windows were often simple timber mullions running vertically, and only filled with glass by those with means to afford it, wooden shutters and animal skins were more common in poorer house holds. The Gothic tracery above is a nice detail.

When glass was used it was only available in small pieces, so a window would be held together with lead, these windows are known as leaded lights. (note the carved detail on the sides of the window frame).

Bay windows were often used in larger houses, both those built with a timber frame and stone buildings. Where a building is projecting out on one storey only it is known as an oriel window.

Here is an example of an oriel window in a stone building. looks like it mat have replaced an earlier Norman arched window judging by the carved detail above the oriel window, which demonstrates how buildings can change over many years!

Tudor chimneys were tall and highly decorative. Made of red brick and twisted and turned to create a variety of styles. The second picture shows chimneys from Hampton Court Palace.

The decorative brick work above is often seen on buildings from this period. It is known as diaper work, were dark coloured bricks create a lozenge shape in red brickwork, sometimes the pattern is criss-crossed in straight lines.

Before we move on to more Elizabethan details, let's just take a look at Tudor plumbing!

OK, so Tudors didn't really go in much for bathing, though wooden tubs were used, there were NO bathrooms in Tudor houses (or many other houses in Britain until the 19th century!). You might, if you were wealthy enough, and had a moat handy outside, install one of these - known as a guarderobe - a Tudor loo! Really the last word in luxury! Yes, it just went straight down into the moat below.

The Elizabethan era saw greater use of stone on the larger houses. Renaissance details such as string coursing and pilasters were used in a haphazard way on buildings, and combined with decorative details from other parts of Europe too.

Dutch gables were popular features on many Elizabethan buildings. The windows also gt larger, with a frame work of stone mullions and transoms, but still with small leaded lights inserted.

Open work balustrades were popular too, sometimes with the owner's initials included, as with Hardwick Hall above.

This elevation of Somerset House ( not the one there now!!) shows how classical elements were being used, but purely for decorative effect, rather than in a strict following of classical building tradition. Note the flat roof.

Roofs on grand houses were becoming less steeply pitched, another feature of Italian architecture. these roofs used lead. Note the chimneys too, no longer red brick, stone was more resistant to damage from heat and smoke, and matched the stone used for the rest of the house.

Ogee shaped roofs on turrets feature on many Elizabethan houses. What with these, the tall chimneys and open work balustrades, Elizabethan roof lines could be quite busy looking affairs. But why have turrets and other rooms on the roof? Well, the custom was, after dinner, to take desert on the roof; flat lead roofs made this possible, and the little turrets and rooms made this more pleasant for the diners. This little custom was known as 'taking the leads', and would lead to the banqueting halls, garden rooms and follies built in the future