Tucked onto a quiet way called King Street in the seaside town of Margate in Kent is a neat house built around 1525 and maintained as a museum. The Tudor House has withstood all the centuries of storms, modernization and even a close strike during the second World War when the place next door was destroyed by a bomb. It is one of the oldest mostly complete buildings on the Isle of Thanet.
The close-set timber frame construction is typical for the late 15th to early 16th century. The timbers are likely oak. There is evidence the building underwent some changes early on when the ground floor in the front was extended to be more in line with the first floor above. In Tudor design the first floor usually overhangs the ground floor by several feet.
The house was subdivided into three units and covered with plaster and lathe in the 1770s. In the 1930s it was scheduled to be demolished to make way for new housing. Some of the locals realized the old place had historical significance and informed the authorities. An inspector of ancient buildings soon comprehended the significance of the house and it was spared. Throughout the 1950s the Tudor house was carefully restored.
The original timbers of the frame and the stones of the foundation are visible in their weathered condition. Over the years, the house leaned a bit toward the front and one side. It also settled a little when the bomb hit beside it. Luckily, the building did not sustain any major damage from the strike. Metal strapping and bars have been discreetly applied for support and the structure is stable.
The main hall has a ceiling about eight feet high while the domestics’ space (pictured below) has a clearance of barely five and one-half feet. The doorway that the photo was taken through is just over four feet high, rather claustrophobic for most modern humans.
In its time, this house would have been a splendid manor, the home of local gentry. The two chimneys, second floor and glazed windows were at the cutting edge of residential architectural technology. The beautiful leaded windows, some with colored glass inserts, are original. Much of the old wood paneling, some carved, also remains.Beyond the main hall is the parlor where the family would gather around another great fireplace. The floor is all flagstone and a large set of windows opens onto the front garden and street. The ceiling has ornate plaster decoration.
A narrow circular stair leads to the next floor. Here the family would have slept, dressed, had sitting space and stored their clothes and other belongings. The toilets would have been outside, of course, except for chamber pots. The chimney and additional fireplaces provide heat upstairs.
The last room upstairs holds a collection of period costume. The mannequin beside the doorway is about 5 ft tall. Several lovingly reproduced ladies gowns are displayed along with hats, bags and undergarments.
The cellars are reached through a trap door. These were used for cool storage of food and drink. A small brew house associated with the main building stands in the back garden. The brew made for home use was probably kept in barrels in the cellar.
The grounds include a Tudor knot garden, although it is unknown what the original gardens featured. The north side of the house was built with wings that are completely gone. When it was constructed, the home was situated on the banks of a brook that ran into the harbor. No evidence of the waterway remains.