Alcoves – Tudor Tuesdays

Castle, History

The Waldegrave Room - Hever CastleAlcoves are the theme for #TudorTuesdays with Historic Houses.

Alcoves are probably something we take for granted. The spaces we use for shelves on either side of a chimney breast; the handy little nooks we turn into cupboards, or which just fit a wine rack or a free-standing lamp.

But what are alcoves and what did the Tudors use them for?

Alcoves are a popular architectural feature dating back to the Roman times, where they often appeared as semi-circular recesses in which to display statues in large homes and official buildings. These classical alcoves were often more ornamental than the ones we are used to today, given that they were usually framed by pillars and elaborate mouldings.

During the medieval and Tudor times, alcoves retained a similar function, albeit with the frequent addition of curtains or wooden partition walls to separate these spaces from the main hallways or rooms of which they were part of.

The small chapel in the Waldegrave Room at Hever Castle is a good example of what a Tudor alcove may have looked like; with its ornate wooden screens making it almost appear to be a separate room of its own, which therefore made it the perfect location to hide a secret oratory.

Oratory Chapel - Waldegrave room

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