Compton Wynyates

The Plan of the Earlv Tudor House.

Hli last fifteen years of the fifteenth century witnessed the rise of the House of Tudor from the battlefield of Bosworth, when the arms of the Seventh Henry and the policy of the first Earl of Derby, -who obtained his title in 14S5, " as a reward for his invaluable services in placing the crown of Richard Crookback on the head of the victorious Richmond," established the line which persisted for one hundred and seventeen years, until England had to look to Scotland for a king to occupy its throne. During this period, architectural work was almost wholly of a secular character. There was little or 110 reason for adding to the numbers of the great monasteries or religious houses, and half a century later Henry VIII began his work of suppressing these institutions and bridling the power of the clergy. The accession of a new dynasty also tended to beget an era, of building of mansions, for the favourites of the first of the House of Tudor. During the century and a quarter following the accession of Henry VIII, building must have been indulged in, by the wealthy, on an elaborate scale. To instance but a few of the great houses of this period : we have Buckden in 1484, Apethorpe about 1500, Oxbnrgh Hall three years before Bosworth, and incomplete at the accession of Henry Tudor, Sutton Place in 1523, Compton Wynyates in 1520, Hengrave Hall in 1538, Layer blarney Towers in the first year of the sixteenth century, simultaneously with Apethorpe, Parham

Gage Hengrave

Fig. 20. OXBURGH HALL

Plan.

Fig. 20. OXBURGH HALL

Plan.

Old Hall in 1510 (Fig. 21), Peene Park in 1549 (Fig- 22), Cothelstone Manor in 1568 (Fig. 23), Keele Hall in 1571, Lake House in 1575, and Nettleeombe Court in the last year of the sixteenth century. To this list may be added Moreton Old Hall in 1559, Kirby in 1570, Montacute and Shaw House in 1580, and Doddington in 1595. The opening of the seventeenth century saw Shipton, Salford and Burton Agnes in the building, with Aston and Hatfield shortly to follow.

Although this architectural digression may appear to be out of place in a book concerning itself solely with furniture and woodwork, it will be found that the development of house-planning at this period had an important bearing both on the home life and the furnishings of the aristocratic classes. The evolution of the house-plan was always in the direction of greater privacy for the family. The early Tudor plan was invariably in the form of a quadrangle with central open courtyard. The entrance porch, usually flanked by towers, in the daj^s when the capability of defence against armed aggression was a necessary adjunct to the successful house-plan, had the porter's rooms on either side (see Oxburgh, Fig. 20). Through the porch the open courtyard was reached, and almost directly opposite, on the other side of the quadrangle, was the Great Hall, the principal, if not the only living room of the family. The hall was entered from a door on the side,— usually on the right,—which gave on to a species of corridor,—known in the parlance of the time as " the skreens," formed by partitioning off the hall (see Fig. 24 showing the screen at Ockwells Manor). Above " the skreens," which was ceiled to single-story height, was the Minstrel's gallery (see Fig. 25, the screen in the Hall at Wadham College,

PARHAM OLD HALL (1510).

From the; Moat.

PARHAM OLD HALL (1510).

From the; Moat.

Oxford). The hall itself, in all the earlier houses, reached to an open-timbered roof, and effectually intersected the house on both ground and first floors. At the opposite end of the screen was the dais, generally flanked at one end by a huge oriel window Behind the dais were the private apartments of the family. To the right of the screen, on entering, were the domestic offices, the kitchen, buttery, etc.

These Great Halls were not only contrived in large houses and mansions ; they often formed a part of smaller yeoman dwellings. In the latter case, the roof timbers, while constructional, were only sparingly decorated as befitted the quality of the house itself. Fig. 26 shows one of these open-timber roofs in the Bablake Schools at Coventry, originally a part of a Great Hall, but now floored into two stories and partitioned off into several rooms. The staircase, another view of which is shown in Fig. 27, was probabh inserted in the last quarter of the seventeenth century.

The staircases, of which there were several, were small and unimportant in character. To the right and left of the quadrangle, flanking the hall 011 either side, were the guests' chambers, or " lodgings " as they were styled.

A notable feature was the

absence of corridors, the rooms leading the one into the other (see Figs. 28 and 29, Compton Wyn-yates). It was not until nearly the end of the sixteenth century, when the Italian plan came into vogue, with the Italian detail and ornament, that the corridor became a part of the English house. By this time the hall had gradually dwindled in size and had lost much of its original significance. The staircase had grow n in corresponding degree, and was usually constructed in the hall itself, which thus began to take 011 a new function, as a room to hold a

Fig. 22. DEENE PARK il549).

The South Front.

staircase, giving access to the upper floors. It is hardly necessary to point out that this office has persisted to the present day.

In place of the former Great Hall, the Long Gallery became a general feature in the planning of the later Tudor houses, and while the open quadrangle form was frequently preserved, one side, usually the left on entering the porch, was constructed of double room depth, the outer length being taken by the Long Gallery, either on the ground or the first floor. From 150 to 200 feet was no uncommon length for these galleries. Sutton Place (Figs, 30 and 31) has both Great Hall and Long Gallery (Fig. 32) and the left flank of the courtyard is only of single-room depth.

At a later stage we find the general plan alters from the open quadrangle to that of the " H " or " E " form. This development, however, does not materially affect our subject, whereas with the dwarfing of the hall and the origination of the Long

COTHELSTONE MANOR ^1568). South Front.

COTHELSTONE MANOR ^1568). South Front.

Fig. 24. OCKWE1XS MANOR.

View from

Fig. 24. OCKWE1XS MANOR.

the Screen looking into the Hall.

Gallery, and such other private apartments, as the dining-room and the parlour, we get additional wall surfaces where some kind of covering, whether of tapestry or of wooden panelling, was necessary to comfort. With the Great Hall, of huge size and full house-height, any nakedness of wall, of rough stone or exposed brick, was not keenly felt, but as the home life of the family was transferred to smaller apartments, some means of finishing interior surfaces was found necessary, and panellings were the device generally adopted.

The usual furniture of the dais in the Great Hall was the so-called " refectory " table, a type probably borrowed from the earlier monastic refectories,- -generally of great length, seldom less than twelve feet. This was placed lengthwise on the dais,

OAK SCREEN IN THE HALL OF WADHAM COLLEGE, OXFORD.

Early seventeenth century. 37

and behind it were the chairs of the lord and lady of the house, flanked on the other side by single stools or long benches. The bod\ of the hall was occupied by several long tables of similar description to the one on the dais. Against the walls were the serving tables, one or two livery cupboards, and, at a later date, the enclosed two or three-tier "Standing" or "Court Cupboard." The floor of the recessed oriel in the hall was generally occupied by a large chest, usually erroneously called a marriage coffer, or dower chest. The true marriage coffer was smaller, and always reserved for the private apartment of the lady, as a receptacle for the household treasures in the way of linen or fabrics. Chairs were very rare pieces in these earlier " Great Halls,"

Tudor Outdoor Timber Stair

TIMBER ROOF IN THE STAIRCASE HALL AT BABLAKE SCHOOLS, COVENTRY.

Late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. 3§

TIMBER ROOF IN THE STAIRCASE HALL AT BABLAKE SCHOOLS, COVENTRY.

Late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. 3§

excepting as seats of state 011 the dais. The floor, generally of good honest flags, but sometimes of oak boards, was always left bare ; the covering with strewn or plaited rushes being a later degree of effeminacy. The fireplace corresponded in size with the hall itself, the opening rarefy less than eight feet in width by six in height, the hearth raised some four to six inches, and garnished with steel andirons and rails to support huge logs.

In the earlier houses, as in the fourteenth-century Hall at Penshurst Place, the hearth was built in the centre of the Hall floor, upon which coupled raking andirons were placed, the fire, of huge logs, being built against these andirons. The Hall roof had a

OAK STAIRCASE IN BABLAKE SCHOOLS, COVENTRY.

Late seventeenth century.

central outlet, or " Inoke-loover," by which some of the smoke escaped, that is after the hall itself was well filled and the inmates partially smoke-cured. At Pcnshurst the central hearth is octagonal, of large paving bricks with a flattened curb. It measures eight feet across. The smoke-louvre has been removed, although Joseph Nash, in " English Mansions of the Olden Time," shows it in situ in his drawing of Penhurst.

On festivals, such as Yuletide, when the revels were high, and "horse play" the rule rather than the exception, the minstrels' gallery was the usual refuge of the ladies. At other times it was untenanted, its name being rather a complimentary than a practical one, the only chamber instruments being the older forms of the viol, or the more primitive kinds of sackbut, fife or tabor. The virginal, —the forerunner of the harpsichord and the

Fig. 29. COMPTON WYNYATES.

The West Front.

Fig. 29. COMPTON WYNYATES.

The West Front.

Compton Wynyates Plans

COMPTON WYNYATES (1320). Plan.

COMPTON WYNYATES (1320). Plan.

The Courtyard Compton Wynyates

piano, was of early Elizabethan introduction only, and of continental origin. The psaltery was rare at any time, in England, and was almost exclusively confined to the religious houses.

Next in progression from the monastic establishment and the mansion or castle, comes the Guild Hall, where the crafts united in giving of their best, both in design and workmanship, to the beautifying of their guild house. Sometimes,- as at St. Mary's Hall, Coventry,- -very strong ecclesiastical influence is evident, but, when built under the shadow of the Church, these Guild Halls were generally constructed of stone.

Lavenham, on the other hand, which had a large woollen and textile trade with Flanders in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, has a purely secular Guild Hall, constructed of timber and plaster (genericallv known as "half-timber"). It is shown in its sadly restored condition, with numerous bay windows added, in Fig. 33.

This timber - and - plaster building was a favourite method throughout England from 1400 to 1550, especially in lesser houses of the superior yeoman, or small landowner type. It developed, in the direction of overhanging stories, the carving of visible joist ends, corner posts, barge - boards, mullions and dour spandrils, to an extreme decorative limit. It is probable that this carving was not, in its entirety, executed when the house was built, but was added from time to time, as the owner found himself possessed of the neces-

sarv leisure or funds, ft is imFig. 30.

possible, otherwise, to account sutton place 1523).

for the carving of every window South Front Entrance.

mullion-member in tiny cottages at Lavenham (although a very prosperous town in the early sixteenth century) and elsewhere in East Anglia.

The very decorative detail of the story-overhang, with the first floor timbers tenoned into a wall-plate, supported on the projecting joist ends, was carried to extreme limits, as the carpenters gained in skill in this domestic timber work. Thus, at Lavenham, there are three overhanging faces on the gable elevation, and an additional first floor overhang on the return wall. This double overhang requires the joist-ends to be taken through, both on front and return elevations, and to allow of two sets of joists at right angles to each other, a diagonal beam was used,—called either a " dragon-beam " or " dragging-beam," the outer end of which was supported on the corner post. As all beams, and often the joists themselves, were left exposed to form the ceiling of the rooms below, they were frequently elaborately moulded, forming a beam ceiling, the space between the joists being the actual reverse side of the floor boards of the first floor rooms. In Fig. 34, a very fine panelled room of the mid-seventeenth century, from Thistleton Hall, Burgh, will be noticed the springing of this diagonal " dragon-beam." Apart from the modern treatment of the chimney opening, and the door, this panelled room is well worthy of consideration. It is a typical example of the refined chimney-pieces of its date, reaching to ceiling height in the low rooms of the period, flanked with simple moulded panelling, and with the somewhat sombre character relieved by the plastering and whitening of the ceiling.

Ford's Hospital,- -or as it is often styled, Grey Friars, from its proximity to the Franciscan Monastery,- -at Coventry (two views of which are given in Figs. 35 and 36), is a fine specimen of half-timber work of the early sixteenth century, of the more

SUTTON PLACE, GUILDFORD (1523). Conjectured original plan.

SUTTON PLACE, GUILDFORD (1523). Conjectured original plan.

elaborate kind. It was endowed by William Ford in 1529, and built, specifically, as an alms house, for five poor men and one woman. This endowment has been enlarged and modified at various dates, and the hospital, at the present day, is used only for women.

The courtyard, which can be seen in Fig. 36, is about forty feet in length by twelve in width. From this lead several staircases to the rooms of the inmates on the first floor. The front, with its three dormers, each bayed out and supported on coves, and with very richly carved barge-boards, is exceptionally rich and varied in detail. Of these three dormer bays, one is glazed on its return ends, the others being solid in timber and plaster. For a further description of this charming example of early sixteenth-century half-timber work, I cannot do better than to quote from Blessrs. Garner and Stratton's " Domestic Architecture during the Tudor Period."

Images Sutton Place Guildford

SUTTON PLACE, GUILDFORD.

The Long Gallery. 15^0. 43

SUTTON PLACE, GUILDFORD.

The Long Gallery. 15^0. 43

" The west front presents some of the most beautiful sixteenth-century half-timber work to be found in the countn. The whole front is timber framed, black with age, above a stone plinth and covered with a tile roof. In spite of the strongly marked horizontal lines of the sills and cove mouldings, the numerous upright oak posts and the three projecting gabled dormers, produce in effect an apparent height far in excess of what might be expected from its modest dimensions. This simple scheme of a central doorway and symmetrically disposed windows on the ground floor, with three dormers above, the middle one naively out of the centre, has been vested with all the charm and wealth of ornament which the wood-carver's craft could produce ; yet no one part seems to be over-elaborated, and each, without telling too much, enhances the beauty of the whole." ..." The resources of the craftsmen engaged were such

THE GUILD HALL, LAVENHAM.

Early sixteenth century. 44

THE GUILD HALL, LAVENHAM.

Early sixteenth century. 44

that the design of the tracery varies in every window ; as it is so ornate and so small in scale, the entire head above the springing is cut out of one piece, the glass being carried up continuously behind it, and not let into the tracery itself, as is customary in heavier work. But perhaps the richest detail is lavished upon the barge-boards of the gables, some of the running floral patterns being exceptionally fine." ..." The inner court, though very small, is, perhaps, the most beautiful and richest part of the whole building, and does not seem to have suffered from either alteration or neglect. Wealth and variety of ornament here too characterise the tracery of its windows and the detail of the mouldings.

At the eastern end of the building are some additions to the original scheme somewhat irregular in character ; with this exception the whole hospital appears to be of

Oxford College Paneled Room

OAK-PANELLED ROOM, TH1STLETON HALL, BURGH, SUFFOLK.

Mid-seventeenth century.

OAK-PANELLED ROOM, TH1STLETON HALL, BURGH, SUFFOLK.

Mid-seventeenth century.

George Symonds, lisq.

one date. Over the entrance doorway is a room that is said to have been the chapel ; and some traces of its original use may still be discerned, such as the remains of a panelled ceiling and a few fragments of stained glass, which bear so close a resemblance to the quarries in the " Commandery " Worcester, that they may well be by the same hand.

The common hall of the hospital must have been the room over the doorway at the east end of the court, and the names of the various donors are still to be deciphered on the walls : but both this and the original chapel are now used as ordinary rooms of the inmates."

Early English Exterior

FORD'S HOSPITAL, COVENTRY.

Exterior View, West Front, 1529. 46

FORD'S HOSPITAL, COVENTRY.

Exterior View, West Front, 1529. 46

FORD'S HOSPITAL, COVENTRY.

Not far from Ford's Hospital, in the shadow of St. Michael's Parish Church,—now known as Coventry Cathedral,—is the fine old house shown in Fig. 37. It is probably some half-century earlier in date than Ford's Hospital, and possesses a richly carved wall-plate and corner post. The projecting joist-ends are marked with a similar coving, which appears to have been a local custom. It has a small double overhang on first floor level, but there are evidences of extensive restoration, if not of partial rebuilding. The richly pierced and carved barge boards are worthy of close examination, and the details of the buttress-uprights under the windows are also exceptional.

In the small illustration, Fig. 38, on the same page, one of these half-timber houses

FORD'S HOSPITAL, COVENTRY.

Mew of Courtyard from the Entrance. Early 16th century.

AN OLD HOUSE AT COVENTRY FACING COVENTRY PARISH CHURCH (NOW THE CATHEDRAL).

Showing the carved corner-post and wallplate with cove under, hiding the joist-ends, story-overhang and pierced and carved bargeboards. The buttress-plasters under the sill of the end gable window are interesting details.

Late fifteenth century.

Fig. 37.

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