Furnishing his house in Tudor times depended on the wealth and social standing of the house owner. Most people lived in the countryside, were poor and had minimal furniture, perhaps a pallet with a straw mattress for a bed, a roughly hewn wooden bench and a planked table.
But during the sixteenth century, there developed a growing merchant class because of England’s flourishing trade in wool, cloth and tin. These rich men wanted houses that reflected their wealth and importance. They were prepared to spend money on furnishing their homes for comfort as well as status. Oak or beech were the timbers used. Furniture was often decorated with panels, elaborate carvings or linenfold carvings.
Surviving sixteenth century inventories of items from real Tudor homes give us a good indication of the furnishings of the times. An example is the 1601 inventory of the house of John and Jane Daniell. This will give good ideas for furnishing a Tudor dolls house in 1:12 scale.
Furniture for the Tudor Bedroom
The bed would be the largest piece of furniture in the bedroom. The four poster wooden beds were hung with curtains to keep out the draughts and for privacy. For nobility, the curtains would be made of embroidered silk; for others, curtains made of woven wool were used. The bedposts at the foot of the bed were often carved in elaborate patterns. Sometimes the headboards were panelled. The tester or half-tester top of the bed kept out insects and other nasties that might fall from the thatched roof.
A low trundle bed that could be rolled away under the main bed and pulled out at night was used for a servant to sleep on in the same room.
Mattresses and pillows were stuffed with straw, wool or feathers. Blankets were woollen.
Large wooden chests with iron hinges were used to store clothes and bedding. Jewellery, money and other valuables were kept in smaller chests (coffers) that could be locked.
Wooden Furniture for the Tudor Hall
The hall was the most public room in a Tudor house. It was where guests were entertained so was furnished to show off the owner’s wealth. The best furniture and furnishings were in this room to impress visitors.
Trestle tables or refectory tables were used for dining. In richer homes, these may have been set on a low dais. White linen tablecloths were used. Smaller tables may have been covered with carpets which were considered too valuable to be put on the floor and walked on.
Seating was simple. Mostly benches were used. Chairs were not affordable for most people. For those who did own a chair, the master of the household would be the person who used it. When dining, the youngest children would stand on small stools to reach the table, the older children would stand and other adults would be seated on benches.
Settles were a form of long box seat with a back that could seat a couple of people. Sometimes the backs were panelled. Others had seats that lifted up to expose a storage space underneath.
A buffet or court cupboard was a type of open sideboard with two or three shelves and carved front posts. Here the family displayed their best pieces of pewter, pottery and silver.
Furniture for the Tudor Parlour
Seating would be a mix of benches, stools and perhaps a settle. Sometimes large cushions stuffed with straw or wool were used for floor seating. Chests for storage, and sometimes for seating, were found in this room also.
A spice cupboard might be in this room, in a niche above the fireplace or hung on the wall beside the fireplace to prevent damp getting into the spices and spoiling them. Spices were expensive and the lady of the house portioned them out to the cook as needed.
One or two small tables, perhaps with drop leaves, were included as parlour furniture.
The Tudor Kitchen Furniture
The most essential piece of furniture was a large table for food preparation. This was made of planks and of a height suitable for working at. The legs might be trestles. Depending on the size of the kitchen, more than one table could be used.
An aumbry was a low cupboard on legs with carved openings in the doors. Tt was used to store left-over food.
Turnish the 1:12 Ccale Tudor Dolls’ House
There are a variety of ways to furnish the 1:12 scale Tudor dolls’ house.
Many dolls’ house and miniatures shops and suppliers sell ready-made Tudor style furniture. These pieces are available on-line, by mail order, at dolls’ house shows and fairs or in shops.
Some companies sell kitset wooden Tudor furniture which you can make yourself.
Search out Tudor articles in dolls’ house magazines and miniatures books. These often provide the patterns, cutting directions and instructions for making 1:12 scale Tudor furniture in wood or matboard.
Commission an artisan to hand-craft a piece of furniture to your specifications