How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

European influence on Tudor palaces cannot be measured easily, almost five hundred years of architectural history has made the evidence hard to examine in detail and much evidence has been paved over or laid to waste. In order to examine the subject in any depth the research of scholars must be examined and their interpretations of the remaining structures and artifacts assessed.

King Henry VIII himself would have had an overwhelming influence over building works of the time. He was learned, the first King of England to write, publish and print a book and he read compulsively (Steane, J. 1998, p. 207). He desired power, and perhaps wished to be more powerful than the King of France (Gosman, M. 2005, p. 138). This ambition coupled with his academic knowledge may have been used to build palaces designed to surpass their European counterparts.

Two different examples will be used to examine European influence on Tudor palaces: Hampton Court Palace and Nonsuch Palace. The impact of European influence will be evaluated alongside the proposition that the growth and power of the Henry VIII and his court was a greater shaping force on their architecture. European influences will be considered in relation to the following themes: external appearance including building materials, internal layout and the aesthetic interior. For these themes each palace will be considered in turn. Before launching into the themes, it is useful to give a brief history.

The period of the Reformation saw Henry VIII break from Rome and form his own church (Gosman, M. et al 2005). This period can be viewed as both disastrous and bountiful for architecture in England. It saw widespread destruction of ancient abbeys and priories that had stood for five centuries (Summerson, J. 1993), but it also saw Royal building work to an extent that had never been known before. By the end of his reign Henry VIII owned over fifty houses (Summerson, J. 1993). These architectural works were built on the basis of a break from Rome, and as such, it could be said that this was a factor against European influence.

Hampton Court Palace is an accretive building that began in 1514 as the largest house in England (Watkin, D. 1997); it was owned by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (c.1471-1530) and given to Henry VIII in 1529. Half of the Tudor palace is still visible next to the newer part of the palace built by Christopher Wren (1632-1723) from 1689-1694 (Tinniswood, A. 2001). Nonsuch Palace was begun in 1538; it was built from scratch as an elaborate “hunting lodge” and was not completed by the time of the King’s death in 1547 (British Archaeology, 2009). Unfortunately, whilst in the hands of Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine in 1682, the house was demolished and its parts and land sold (London Borough of Sutton, 2009). It is necessary to examine the remaining artefacts, including pictures and descriptions to form an accurate picture of Nonsuch Palace.

There is some debate over when Henry VIII’s improvements started and Cardinal Wolseys finished, (Thurley, S. 1988 and Curnow, P. 1984). When Henry VIII took over the palace from Wolsey it had not been designed as a traditional Royal residence.

Hampton Court’s external appearance heralded a new era for Royal residences; it is constructed of distinctive red brick. The tradition of brick usage in Europe probably came from Rome (Edson Armi, C. 2004), but the use of red-fired brick was a Burgundian concept. The Burgundian Court used brick even when there was an abundant supply of stone, as can be seen from the Palais de Savoy in Michelen, Belgium, built from 1507-1527 (Markschies, A. 2003). Brick, and its different bonds – including Flemish for laying walls and other structures – had a huge impact on buildings from the early sixteenth  토토사이트 century and Hampton Court Palace is a prime example of this. In 1532 special brick kilns were built near Hampton Court Palace to supply the enormous number of bricks needed (Thurley, S. 1988).

One of the surviving images of Nonsuch is a print by George Hoefnagle (1545-1600). From this image we can see the huge octagonal turrets that stand guard on the outside of the building, these may have been an emulation of the Chateau de Chambord or they may merely have been an expansion on normal Tudor theme – a mass flanked by octagons, as seen at Richmond Palace (Summerson, J. 1993). Of more impact in this image is what we cannot see: the village of Cuddington that was swept away; the stone from the monasteries with which it was built. All of these were symbolic of Henry VIII’s ambition and ruthlessness (British Archaeology, 2009).

At this point Henry VIII’s love of chivalry and tradition should be mentioned. Inspired to build Nonsuch by the birth of his long awaited son (London Borough of Sutton, 2009), the palace was intended as a triumphal celebration of his power and grandeur. It could be argued that Nonsuch was inspired by Henry VIII’s love of chivalry, tradition and English antiquity. Henry VIII would have kept close contact with scholars of his age, including John Leland (1502-1552), who received a Royal Scholarship in 1526. Leland journeyed widely and gathered much information (Williams, C. 1996), some pertaining to the “legend” of Camelot. In which case, perhaps Camelot and not Chambord would have been Henry’s inspiration.


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