Edward Roberts’ guided tour of The Tudor House
In May 2010, just after the East Meon History Group was founded, architectural historian Edward Roberts led its members around The Tudor House. Over the years, Edward had visited this house many times, and his research has vastly enhanced the knowledge of its history. For pictures of the tour, click here.
The Tudor House is also one of the buildings featured in the 2012 House Histories exhibition. For the content of this display, click here.
The exterior and floor‐plan
Edward started, in fading light, outside the building, describing to the group the layout of the house. The original part of the building was a mediaeval Hall House, open from the hearth to the ceiling with no chimney – bricks were expensive in the 14th century. The hearth would have been stone. The central area would be open, with floored bays at one or both ends; the owners would have slept in the ‘best chamber’.
Edward’s notes describe how “The hall truss of a 2+ bay house survives. Given the site, it is possible that it butted onto a cross‐wing, as shown in the sketch”. In other words, there might have been either a third bay, reaching the present width of the house, or possibly a cross wing covering at least part of the footprint of the Tudor conversion.
He took the group round to the east side of the house to point out the close studding – i.e. the lavish use of vertical timbers – and the jetty. This, again, demonstrated that the owner who built the Tudor house was a very prosperous person who wanted to show off his wealth.
The house would have been entered from this side through a lobby which would have led straight to a double chimney breast, with the choice of turning right into the main chamber or left into a smaller room (see floor plan on next page). “It has a lobby‐entry plan with a fine ground‐floor chamber on the garden side, with crisp 3” chamfers to massive beams.”
In answer to a later question, Edward said that Hall Houses were built on the same pattern as each other, although there were discernible differences between neighbourhoods – for instance, the use of a crown post roof persisted into the 16th century just over the downs separating Hampshire from Sussex.
The truss beam (the mediaeval house)
Edward took the group first to what is now a studio. To enable the building of the studio, the roof had been raised which means that the truss beam can now be clearly seen, the only part of the original hall house to have survived the Tudor re‐building. Edward pointed out the carving of the beam and the smoke-blackened wattle and daub which were the only remaining part of the original structure.
The Tudor House
Edward took the group through the rest of the house, pointing out details of the construction and the carving as he went. He related that by the 16th century, smoke‐filled rooms were going out of fashion …. The sitting room has “crisp 3-inch chamfers to massive beams, windows and doors with good moulding, the latter with vase stops.” In the current dining room. Edward pointed out the carefully carved grooves on both sides of the central beam.
The present landing is a beautiful but puzzling double passage, on two levels with an open framework of beams separating each side. In the original house, the staircase would have been more central than its modern replacement. When the new stairs were built, the split‐level landing was created and the structure of the beams revealed.