The 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 1485, "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 no 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, Oxburgh 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 Marney Towers in the first year of the sixteenth century, simultaneously with Apethorpe, Parham Old Hall in 1510 (Fig. 21), Deene Park in 1549 (Fig. 22), Cothelstone Manor in 1568 (Fig. 23), Keele Hall in 1571, Lake House in 1575, and Nettlecombe 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.
Fig. 20. Oxburgh Hall 1482. - Plan.
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 days 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, 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.
Fig. 21. Parham Old Hall (1510). - From the Moat.
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 probably 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 on 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 grown in corresponding degree, and was usually constructed in the hall itself, which thus began to take on a new function, as a room to hold a staircase, giving access to the upper floors. It is hardly necessary to point out that this office has persisted to the present day.
Fig. 22. Deene Park (1549). - The South Front.
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.