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I have had a life-long love affair with dollhouse miniatures, and careers in art education and interior design. I hope to combine these life experiences to help other miniature enthusiasts get more out of this wonderful hobby we enjoy, a hobby that often reaches the level of an art form. Susan Downing

Posted on 24 June, 2015

tutor-little-morton-hall

Little Morton Hall – Rich Tudor Commoners Showing-Off

Little Morton Hall

I first got interested in the Tudors when I saw Charles Laughton play Henry VIII. What a smarmy villain he was! Then came the architecture and dollhouse miniatures. Through all of the research I have done, one structure stands out as the most improbable: Little Morton Hall

Defying Logic

When an engineer surveying the Little Morton Hall for the National Trust saw the tumbling structure for the first time, he said, ‘Logically it should not still be standing up!’

His colleagues agreed. They couldn’t believe their eyes, either. Fortunately, this timber-framed building, with it’s scenic moat, has defied logic for over 500 years.

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Little Morton Hall Long Gallery, found on GENi

Skirting Disaster

Running the entire length of the south range, the Long Gallery is roofed with heavy gritstone slabs, the weight of which has caused the supporting floors below to bow and buckle. Architectural historians describe it as “a gloriously long and crooked space, the wide floorboards rising up and down like waves and the walls leaning outwards at different angles.” The crossbeams between the arch-braced roof trusses were probably added in the 17th century to prevent the structure from “bursting apart” under the load.

The Long Gallery has almost continuous bands of windows along its longer sides to the north and south and a window to the west; a corresponding window at the east end of the gallery is now blocked

It was always sparsely furnished and would have been used for exercising when the weather was inclement and as a games room. Four early 17th-century tennis balls have been discovered behind the wood paneling.

Amazing Strength

One reason Little Morton Hall is still standing, besides all the tinkering with cross-beams and tie-rods, is the nature of its construction: “timber frame waddle daub.” See my article on Tudor Dollhouse Exteriors, the Commoner’s House section, for a description.

Inspiration

Is anyone inspired to take on Little Morton Hall as a miniature project? Perhaps it would be better to tackle a less demanding dollhouse. Enthusiasts have so many half-timber buildings to look at for inspiration. Here are some links:

little-morton-hall-video

Little Morton Hall video

Mike Jackson blog detailing the Hall. And be sure to watch this charming video. It’s so nice to see young people that like “learning stuff.” For a bonus, you get to see the Mow Cop ruin in this video. If you really want to go deep into the historical weeds about the Hall, here’s a link to a very thorough Wikipedia article.

I hope you enjoy “learning stuff” as much as the young lady, and I do.

Susan

Posted by Susan Downing

Categories: Tudor


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