Who got that cash?

November 4, 2005

Designers may mock, but mock Tudor was the most popular style of house in 20th-century Britain, according to Andrew Ballantyne , professor of architecture at Newcastle University.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded Professor Ballantyne and his team £172,000 to investigate the history of a style loathed by architects and loved by generations of householders.

It first appeared in the late 18th century when, amid ruling-class fears that the French Revolution could spark insurrection here, the Government required landowners to improve their housing stock. Mock Tudor was one style suggested because the Elizabethan period was seen as a golden age for the poor. The comfort and stability associated with that era has ensured mock Tudor's enduring popularity.

"Architects don't like it because it resists modernism," Professor Ballantyne said. "This is the taste they are educated to have. But why is it still of interest when the profession tells the public it is not desirable?"

In exploring this and other related questions, Professor Ballantyne, based in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, will work with a sociologist.

"Sociologists are happy working with mass phenomena," he said. "We want to take it seriously and see what there is to be said about it."

Would he ever buy a mock Tudor home himself? "I'm interested in it academically," Professor Ballantyne said, "but it would be the last sort of house I would buy."

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