Few periods in history have captured the public’s imagination quite like the Tudor era. With its larger than life monarchs, religious upheavals and dramatic military confrontations it is an exciting period to discover. Unsurprisingly the architecture of the Tudor era offers photographers many possibilities for unique and fun shots.
From grand palaces to timber framed houses, these sites will make you want to pick up your camera and take some truly amazing pictures. Maybe one of these could even win the Historic Photographer of the Year Award.
Come and explore the best Tudor buildings a photographer should not miss.
Designed and built by Robert Smythson (of Longleat and Wollaton Hall fame), Hardwick Hall is one of the UK’s finest examples of an Elizabethan ‘prodigy house’, a term for ostentatious palatial-style homes built by courtiers and described as ‘noble palaces of an awesome scale’ and ‘proud, ambitious heaps’.
Today Hardwick Hall is still managed by the National Trust and is open to the public. Inside, each of the three main storeys has a ceiling higher than the one below and the house includes one of the longest ‘long rooms’ in England.
2. Ann Hathaway’s Cottage
This picturesque cottage in the leafy village of Shottery, Warwickshire is where William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, lived as child. It is a twelve roomed farmhouse set in extensive gardens.
The cottage was known as Newlands Farm in Shakespeare’s day and had more than 90 acres of land attached to it. Its exposed timber frame and thatched roof is typical of the Tudor style of architecture for a village cottage.
3. Mary Arden’s Farm
Located in the village of Wilmcote, roughly 3 miles away from Stratford upon Avon, is a farm owned and lived in by William Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden. It has been a working farmhouse for centuries which has kept it in good condition.
It also neighbours Palmers Farmhouse, a Tudor house that unlike Mary’s Arden house, remains largely unchanged. The attraction allows the visitor to experience and explore what daily life would have been like on a Tudor farm.
4. Plas Mawr
Plas Mawr is one of the best preserved Elizabethan buildings in Great Britain. Built by Robert Wynn between 1576 and 1585 as a private home, the house fulfilled many roles in the coming centuries – it has been used as a courtroom, a school building and as an art gallery. The interior is richly decorated, with many pieces of furniture coming from the 16th century.
This stunning building is open to visitors and can be found in the city of Conwy in Wales.
Little Moreton Hall is a Tudor manor house in Cheshire, England, once home to the wealthy Moreton family and called by some ‘a stranded Noah’s Ark’ because of its top-heavy design. Famous for its asymmetrical build and timber framing, Little Moreton Hall is an architecturally whimsical structure entirely distinct from other Tudor era manors.
These days the public can visit the beautiful and quirky building, have tea and cake in their cafe, walk around its famous knot garden or peruse pre-owned books in the bookstore.
Walking inside the house is a breathtaking experience, giving one a unique glimpse into the Elizabethan upper-class way of living.
Hampton Court Palace is a Grade I listed royal palace, built over 500 years ago in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames / Surrey, 12 miles south-west of central London on the River Thames.
The palace is still a magnet for visitors from around the world, and its gardens are also as spectacular and varied as Hampton Court Palace itself.
Visitors can tour Henry VIII’s Kitchens and the Great Hall where he hosted lavish feasts, view art from the Royal Collection, or visit the palace gardens and explore the world’s oldest puzzle maze. The structure and grounds are cared for by an independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces.
Hatfield House is a Jacobean country house built on the site of what was Hatfield Palace, where Elizabeth I spent much of her life.
Today, the stunning estate is open to the public as well as being a popular venue for weddings and events. Visitors can embark on a tour of the Jacobean house that includes the ‘Rainbow Portrait’ of Elizabeth I, the extravagant Marble Hall, and the ornate Grand Staircase alongside a host of other fascinating features.
Despite the vast rebuild undertaken by Robert Cecil, the Old Palace of Hatfield survives in its magnificent Banqueting Hall, featuring striking Tudor brickwork and most of its original roof timbers. This is often used for events, yet may be viewed when free from the Stable Yard viewing bay and Upper Solar, as well as through tours booked at the Stable Yard Ticket Kiosk.
Bramall Hall is a Tudor manor house in Stockport, Greater Manchester with origins dating back to the Middle Ages.
Bramall Hall reopened in 2016 after a large scale restoration project supported by a £1.6m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The house and grounds are open to visitors free of charge. Dramatic improvements were made to the historic rooms. The impressive plaster ceiling in the Withdrawing Room has been repaired and re-painted objects and items of furniture have been conserved.
A major building development converted the rundown and under-used stable block into a gift-shop, small visitor centre and classroom. There is also a new modern cafe on site.
9. Rufford Old Hall
The beautiful Tudor era Rufford Old Hall is a must-see for anybody visiting Lancashire. The complex consists of the great hall of the old Tudor house, a Jacobean brick building from 1661 and a late Regency era addition. These days, the building houses a large collection of antique furniture and historic armour.
Visitors can explore the grand rooms of Rufford Old Hall and enjoy the scenic estate gardens. During the summer months, you can experience the outdoor theatre, which offers renditions of Shakespeare’s plays and retellings of Charlotte Brontë’s stories.
10. Packwood House
Packwood House is a stunning example of Tudor architecture set in beautiful grounds in Packwood on the Solihull border near Lapworth. The house dates back to the 1560s when it was built for John Fetherston. Packwood remained in the Fetherston family for centuries until the Birmingham industrialist Alfred Ash purchased it in 1904. It’s largely thanks to Ash’s son Graham Baron Ash, who inherited the estate in 1925, that Packwood became the impressively authentic Tudor-style property it is today.
Baron Ash donated Packwood to the National Trust in 1941. Today, the meticulously restored Tudor mansion is surrounded by suitably well-kept grounds that feature a bountiful walled kitchen garden, an abundance of majestic yew trees, renowned herbaceous borders and a lake.