Living in a “Half-Baked Pageant”: the Tudorbethan semi and suburban modernity in Britain, 1918–39

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This article investigates the ways in which new suburban identities were forged through the architecture, design, and decoration of the modest mock-Tudor semi-detached house in the interwar years in England. It focuses particularly on the tensions between the longings for the past and aspirations for the future displayed in the architecture and interiors of “Tudorbethan” houses. It argues that such houses embodied a specifically suburban modernity, which looked backwards to the past whilst looking forward to the future. Although contemporary critics dismissed it as ersatz and backward-looking, the Tudorbethan semi signified a coming together of nostalgia and a particularly suburban form of modernity. Speculative builders created Tudorbethan houses with modern methods of construction that combined half-oak timbering with concrete. Furthermore, whilst some of the furniture that filled the Tudorbethan semi may have been nostalgically Jacobethan in its styling, it was modern in its purpose, with metamorphic designs that made the most of small spaces. This article challenges the dominance of Modernist aesthetics and values on writing on design, architecture, and consumption by exploring popular conceptions of the “modern” that accommodated past and present, nostalgia and modernity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-244
Number of pages28
JournalHome Cultures
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2011


  • suburbia
  • Tudoresque
  • modernity
  • mock-Tudor
  • housing
  • Home


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