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I wouldn't have enjoyed living in Tudor times - The Plague..? No thanks.



As in earlier times most houses were simple one or two room huts with thatched roofs and walls made of timber and something called wattle and daub - a mixture of clay, soil, straw, sand and even animal dung dried on a latticework of saplings or reeds.


It was during the Tudor period, however, that housing began to change dramatically - walls were increasingly made of stone, bricks or tiles (in wealthier houses) and roofs would be tiled. Glass was used in the windows of rich houses - mansions were built with loads of glass windows to show off how wealthy the owners were! Poorer houses would have windows made from paper, cloth or polished horn.


What we know as the Tudor style house with the white walls and black beams are not entirely accurate... although the Tudors did whitewash their walls with a limewash solution the wooden beams would not have been painted black - this was actually done with tar in Victorian times to stop the wood from rotting.

Housing and Homes

Wattle and Daub wall

A wattle and daub wall




Children and Education

Prior to the Tudor era very few children would receive any kind of formal education. For those that could afford to send their children (boys only, of course!) they would begin school at age 4 and then move onto a grammar school at the age of 7. Many Tudor villages had a parish school where the village priest would teach local boys how to read and write - mostly using the Lord's Prayer and the alphabet as practice.


The aristocracy and the very wealthy would have tutors come to their houses to educate their children. Boys would have been taught Latin, Greek, Arithmetic, English and the catechism. The education of boys was to prepare them for a life in work - indeed, many poorer boys would work before and after school, 6 days a week.


Girls of both the poor and the wealthy would be taught how to be a proper housewife and mother!


Although education became more commonplace during the Tudor era generally Henry VIII  actually closed many of the schools that were associated with the monasteries. Instead he set up "King's Schools" across the country that can still be found today. His young son, Edward VI, set up lots of grammar schools for free across the country for those who couldn't pay fees.


There were only 2 universities in England at this point... you guessed it, Oxford and Cambridge.

Wealth and Work

It was during the Tudor period that the idea of a Workhouse (most often associated with the Victorians) was first suggested as a means of punishing and/or helping those who could not find work to support themselves.


One of the worst things about the Tudor era was the pesky Plague. There were five outbreaks of the Black Death between 1498 and 1603. This was because many people had moved to the towns and cities making them over-crowded and there were no sewers or  rubbish collections. Rubbish would gather in the streets which would attract rats, which carried fleas, which carried... the Black Death.

Tudor people (1) Rat Flea Stocks

It was expected of those who were wealthy that they would give something called 'alms' to the poor, either in the form of money, goods or education.

As today there was a great divide between rich and poor. Roughly one third of the population lived in poverty.

Those who were able-bodied were expected to work and, if you were unlucky enough not to be able to find it, you would be punished. Ironically, if you were found to have left your own parish in order to seek work then you would be punished by being put in the stocks or even whipped!

Tudor people ate relatively healthy food (lots of fresh vegetables) and spent a lot of time out in the fresh air (no cars to pollute the air, remember). As the Tudor period coincided with the Renaissance (a time of great learning) medicine also improved. This led to child mortality rates dropping significantly compared with earlier, and in fact, later times.

It wasn't just the Plague that  flourished in these unhygienic conditions, either. People would have suffered from a huge variety of sanitation-related illnesses and diseases such as  smallpox, chickenpox, typhus, measles, malaria, diphtheria and Scarlet fever!