Henry VIII: architecture

Shortly about Henry VIII:

Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 1509 until his death. He was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular, his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as “the father of the Royal Navy”; he invested heavily on the navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

During the time Henry VIII lived, a typical architectural style was the Tudor style (1485–1603).

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Tudor homes are characterized by their steeply pitched gable roofs, playfully elaborate masonry chimneys (often with chimney pots), embellished doorways, groupings of windows, and decorative half-timbering, this last an exposed wood framework with the spaces between the timbers filled with masonry or stucco.

The low Tudor arch was a defining feature. Some of the most remarkable oriel windows belong to this period. Mouldings are more spread out and the foliage becomes more naturalistic. During the reigns of Henry VIII, many Italian artists arrived in England; their decorative features can be seen at Hampton Court Palace, Layer Marney Tower, Sutton Place, and elsewhere. Here is an example:

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(Doorway to Layer Marney Tower, showing the distinctive low Tudor arch and patterns in the brickwork.)

The building of churches had already slowed somewhat before the English Reformation, after a great boom in the previous century, but was brought to a nearly complete stop by the Reformation. Civic and university buildings became steadily more numerous in the period, which saw general increasing prosperity. Brick was something of an exotic and expensive rarity at the beginning of the period, but during it became very widely used in many parts of England, even for modest buildings, gradually restricting traditional methods such as wood framed daub and wattle and half-timbering to the lower classes by the end of the period.

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