The Tudor Corner Shop

My wife always wanted to build a Tudor House, and this seemed a fairly simple one to start with, and apart from the roof beams, which were a little tricky, the rest of it was fairly easy. It would be good to move on to something more challenging, like perhaps the ‘Ye Olde Coach House’ but it will be necessary to ensure we have enough real house space first! Tudor style houses are more difficult than say a Victorian or 1930′s style house, the building itself must be as authentic as possible, but to bear in mind that it would be lived in today by a more modern family or run as a shop. It’s a mistake to furnish it like a museum!

corner11.jpg The house was bought from Maple Street in kit form. The instructions were very clear and there were quite a few useful tips as well. The internal and external beam cladding was our own wood, however, usually sapele with a dark oak stain. The edges were ‘distressed’, made much quicker by use of an electric grinding wheel!

There were 2 aspects in the kit which we decided to change, one being the stairs and the other the beams and cladding. Because of the small area of the ground floor, a straight stairway would have taken up too much room, so a curving stairway was constructed using triangular blocks of oak wood glued together, with rounded bull-nose fronts to the treads. This was built into the corner of the room and came out in the same corner of the first floor, alongside the protruding fireplace, and the same curving stairway has been duplicated in the opposite corner leading from the first to the second floor.

tudor32.jpgFor the curved stairway, I obtained some real oak offcuts locally from a kitchen supplier, and cut them to a pattern found in a doll’s house construction book. All the wood cutting was done on a miniature electric circular saw which is the most useful doll’s house tool I’ve ever bought. It was not expensive, either, around £50 I believe. But if you have the time, cutting by hand would look better, especially if you cut a little crooked, as it’s more realistic (one of the tips in your own instructions!) Also less risk of losing a finger tip! The second floor has panelled walls and just a ladder to the loft space. The 3 ceilings were marked out for beams, with a larger angled ‘dragon beam’ to the external corners, which enabled cross beams, all of the beams extending out to act as a support for the larger floor, with 3 external angled brackets supporting the thicker beams.

tudor21.jpgAll of the electric lighting is ‘candle’ type in keeping with the period. The ceiling candelabra on the second floor has concealed wiring in a large groove cut into the underside of one of the large beams. A tip here: glue into the groove a large diameter drinking straw and this will enable easy threading of the cable should it ever need to be replaced. The photos clearly show this, with the house being decorated just for Christmas. The finishing touch was the house sign ‘The House That Moved’ in old English black lettering, swinging from a decorative metal bracket. On the rear roof there is a red-brick chimney breast with 2 chimney pots, one for each fireplace, but this doesn’t show in the photos.

The roof was covered with cedar shingles, dyed in a dark grey. Internally the house has hanging tapestries on wood panelled walls, Tudor figures and Tudor-style furniture. The whole project took about 2 years, on and off.

Tom and Rosemary Dunn, Exeter, Devon