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Home Life and Houses

Home Life and Houses

ost of the houses in Tudor London were made of wood and brick with tiled roofs (thatched roofs had been banned in the City of London since the 13th century due to the risk of fire). Important streets like Cheapside were lined with tall houses up to six storeys high. Tradespeople lived in rooms above their ground floor shops and storerooms. Poor people lived in small houses with only one room on each floor. The poorest had only one or two rooms or even lived in cellars.

Most homes had a yard or garden with a well for water. Sometimes wells were shared with neighbours. The privy (toilet) was also often in the yard or in a cellar. Privies could also be inside the house – all the waste would fall down a chute into a cesspit under the ground.

London was a crowded city where rich and poor people lived close together. As space was limited, the upper storeys of houses were frequently bigger than the lower floors. This gave more room to live in but meant houses often leant outwards, making the streets narrower.

View of Cheapside during the procession of Queen Mother, Maria de Medici

Find out how Tudor roofs were tiled

Roof tile with two holes so it could be attached to the roof with pegs, 16th century

Find out how brick was used to build fashionable Tudor buildings

Brick, used to build houses and other buildings, 16th century

Find out how a Tudor door key works

Iron door key, late 15th - 16th century

Find out how tiles were used to decorate floors in rich people's homes

Decorated floor tile, late 16th century

Find out what it was like to live as a law student at Staple Inn

Find out what Tudor houses looked like

Fall from house on London Bridge

Heating and lighting

ouses were heated by fires and lit with candles made from beeswax or tallow (animal fat) or rush lights. Fires were started by striking a flint against a piece of metal known as a 'fire steel'. As it took time to start a fire from scratch every day, glowing embers would be piled together at bedtime and used to make the fire again the next morning.

Find out how Tudor people used candles to light their homes

Ceramic candlestick used to hold a candle, mid-16th - 17th century

Find out how to light a fire using a fire steel

Iron strike-a-light or fire steel, used to start fires, 16th century