Tudors: Going medieval in style
Based on old English themes, Tudor homes still attract fans in the modern world.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- For anyone who wants to go all medieval but finds castles too drafty or dear, the next best thing may be a Tudor-style home.
Tudor homes are based on the architecture of England at the end of medieval times. The style evolved during the late 15th century and lasted until shortly after the turn of the 17th century.
The Tudors were the ruling dynasty at the time and members of the family included some of the most famous monarchs in English history. Henry the Eighth and Elizabeth the First were both Tudors, as was Mary the First - also known as Bloody Mary.
Half-timbered, stucco walls, turrets and steeply pitched roofs with cross gables are characteristics of the style. Windows tend to be very tall and panes very small; they're often leaded in a diamond pattern. Arched entryways and substantial chimneys topped by terra cotta pots are also common Tudor themes.
The half-timbering of Tudors is imitative rather than structural. In genuine old English half-timbered buildings the timbers were part of the post and beam framing - they held the house up. The spaces between the beams were then filled in with plaster and lathe and the faces of the beams left exposed.
In modern Tudors, the half timbering in merely embedded for decorative effect - recreating the post-and-beam look - and surrounded by stucco or brick walls.
New world embrace
The Tudor revival began in the United States around 1890 and had mostly played out by 1930. (Six Tudors on the market now.)
Originally, the wealthy embraced the style for their country or suburban estates. Soon, though, the style's popularity filtered down to more modest-income Americans. By the 1920s, some entire neighborhoods, such as Forest Hills in New York City, were dominated by Tudor homes.
Tudor houses come in several flavors. One subset, Jacobean, often incorporates columns and pilasters and flat, parapetted roofs.
Another, Tudorbethan, shows lots of half-timbering set off by pale-colored stucco or herringbone brick walls.
The complexity of the designs and details of Tudor homes make them relatively expensive to build. There are many angles and nooks and usually several different roofs. These are often very steep and time consuming to shingle. There are also dormers, gables of different heights, brick or stone work, stucco walls and wood trim, all of which are difficult to build.
Most Tudors exhibit good craftsmanship, as well as distinctive touches, such as stained glass, carved interior woodworking and wainscoting. Craftsman-style house designers drew some of their inspiration from Tudor techniques and features.
The style has retained much of its popularity, although, because of the expense, fewer are built today. But the ones that come on the market often command a price premium above their sometimes blander neighbors.
An attractive Tudor design conveys substance, gravity and security. The style has a solid feel to it and the arches, built-ins and fireplaces Tudors usually feature give the houses warmth. The medieval look feels like a bulwark against a dangerous world. You feel safe inside its thick walls. (Six Tudors on the market now.)