Bradgate House Digital Reconstruction

Bradgate House BookletArchitecture students at De Montfort University are in the process of developing a digital reconstruction of Bradgate House in Leicestershire. This important early Tudor manor house (actually a minor palace by Tudor standards) has a complex architectural past, with several phases of building and the documented re-use of even earlier thirteenth century timber framed buildings brought from Derbyshire. Careful study of the documentary and archaeological evidence as well as the extant ruins and more complete examples of buildings from the same period elsewhere in the midlands have allowed a structured, evidence based reconstruction that starts to tell a rather more interesting story about the house’s past than has perhaps been fully realised. The existing ruins of the house were laser scanned using the latest techniques to create a very detailed digital data set of their physical form. This was the basis of the reconstruction using computer aided design techniques and through showing small changes in alignment and shape of walls and rooms has suggested new ideas about the sequence of construction and the reasons for changes during the long evolution of the building. Of particular interest is the relationship that the designs of Bradgate House have had to the wider development of early Tudor palace and manor house building in the first half of the sixteenth century in England, and the influence that renaissance ideas from France, the low countries and Italy had upon ideas about how English aristocrats should live and the houses they should build for themselves. The work that the De Montfort University architecture students are doing is helping to test some of those ideas by giving them physical form and examining how well understood design processes used by master builders and patrons elsewhere in the period may have been used at Bradgate and to what extent they may have been modified and / or adapted to cope with changes in the circumstances and finances of the Grey Family who owned Bradgate Park and built Bradgate House.

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About Douglas Cawthorne

Reader in Digital Heritage at De Montfort University.
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