Home Forums Terrain and Scenery Medieval/Renaissance Dimensions, Ceiling, Door Heights?

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    Avatar photoCacique Caribe

    As the title says.  I’m planning to scratchbuild some 28mm multilevel medieval/renaissance (c.1400-1500) combination timber frame and wattle and daub (“Tudor”) buildings and need some historical info, if available:

    A- Ground floor ceiling height?

    B- Height of subsequent ceilings, above ground floor?

    C- Typical height and width of ground floor doorway?

    D- Height and width of other interior doorways?

    Those basic answers will allow me to get started on my project, but I would really appreciate any other information you may have on interior dimensions of timber frame buildings, for residential and/or shops.  Better yet, please direct me to any printable templates you happen to know about.

    Thanks so much!

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9593487@N07/albums/with/72157710630529376

    Avatar photoCacique Caribe

    This is all I’ve been able to find so far:

    Why were 16th century British doorways, beds and ceiling height so small?
    by u/OdmupPet in AskHistorians

    A House’s Ceiling Height Has Evolved Over the Years

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9593487@N07/albums/with/72157710630529376

    Avatar photoGeof Downton

    Not exactly what you asked for, but it may help.



    One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
    Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:11

    Avatar photoirishserb

    I’ve got  a few books that address construction of English houses and buildings circa 1100-1800, and despite all of their dimensional information, there is remarkably little data related to your question.  They tend to address ranges of dimensions of room types, bays, or dimensional information in the X and Y, but not the Z dimension.  Unfortunately, I purged what would have probaby been more useful volumes some years back.

    If noone here can offer any specific information, one idea might be to take a look at some of the structures presented in show from British television, maybe something like Midsomer Murders or Doc Martin.  You can roughly scale some of the info that you are looking for using the height of the primary actors, which is typically available online.  It might seem kind of abstract, but I’ve done this for other things on occasion.

    If you are looking to create models with particular character, you might want to explore some relatively inexpensive books that do offer a ton of other information for relatively little investment:

    The English Mediaeval House by Margaret Wood (under $3 US on Amazon)

    Houses and History by Maurice Barley ($6)

    Discovering Timber Framed Buildings by Richard harris ($7)

    Best of luck, and hopefully someone here can offer better informaton.


    my explorations in towns with surviving architecture (Rye is worth a day trip or two) produces gamut of sizes.  Front outside doors  do tend to have quite a few of the shorter type (probably as a security measure in that an intruder might be forced to duck on entering and thus being momentarily blind to a defense or hampered in a weapon’s use).


    Heating a house was difficult and uses up a lot of firewood or peat, high ceilings make it even more so, but the opposite is also true in that summer with a high ceiling would be cooler (but that doesn’t require energy expenditures chopping wood).  Public buildings tended to have higher ceilings as did upper floors.


    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I wish you hadn’t asked this.

    I thought I would give you a quick precise answer but I’m pretty sure there isn’t one.

    First up – c1400-1500 not ‘Tudor’ (despite Henry VII’s accession in 1485)

    Most of what we see as Black and White half timbered buildings are mostly Jacobean vice Elizabethan or Medieval (some are medieval however).

    However – going for 1400 – 1500 houses as they appeared at that time:

    Do you mean the usual country house lord of the manor style half timber?  The wattle and daub is often actually lath and plaster – same idea but the laths are flat strips and give a flatter smoother wall/ceiling? Or do you want to include farms and small manor houses and/or town houses?

    Whichever – I can direct you to loads of plans and architectural comment on crucks and studded frame and beam sizes etc but not heights! Not as much about as I’d thought. Margaret Wood seems to prefer ‘lofty’ or ‘mean’ to measurement. Brunskill probably has measurements (it was his things after all) but I can’t find my copy. Have a look for a cheap copy of ‘Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture’ or ‘Traditional Buildings of Britain’ by R W(Ronald) Brunskill – second hand copies knocking about for under a fiver.

    2.9 metres seems a (relatively) standard height for normal rooms (whatever they are) but that is immediately overturned by any high status building which will have a double height main hall (often later spilt into two levels or otherwise renovated). Other rooms may be around the ‘standard’ height but I wouldn’t put too much money on it having worked in and visited many a long time ago.

    Town houses tended to be on ‘burgage plot’ widths  between one and two poles (roughly 5 and 10 metres) but note a Cheshire Pole was c24ft and a Pembroke Pole was c10 feet. National standardisation wasn’t a thing. Again Town houses tended to have floors around 2.9m but early upper floors tended to be slightly shorter – Stockport Market house was measured in a survey during ‘redevelopment’ in the 60s and the upper floors tended to be nearer 2 metres than 2.9.

    Doors – how big would you like them sir? The only actual measurement I can lay my hands on is for the door in the service end of the 14th century Baguley Hall in Cheshire which was/is(?) 7′ high by 4’6″ wide. But Baguley Hall was built in an area where Danish/Viking influence had been high and it is of a non-standard construction.

    I worked in one manor house and visited many others where front doors were 5 -6 feet wide and seven feet tall, with iron bound oak doors. Side and rear entrances were generally smaller – except where remaining service range doors were as large as the front to allow farm goods to be brought in to kitchens.

    Manor houses and high status farmhouses might have big doors inside as well – especially as entrances to high status rooms.

    Lower status farmhouses or ones that had been built earlier in a more defensive minded era had smaller and fewer exterior doors on the ground floor. Even modest farmhouses could have quite large and high ground floor halls (double height – so c5-6 metres) surviving from the era when the living was in one room or with a solar at one end. Other rooms were lower than standard and upper rooms could make even me stoop (5’9″).

    Town houses generally got bigger during your period as urban life grew but as frontages had been set, they went back and up. The jetty grew in popularity to grab a bit more space and contrary to the smaller as you go up theme in early upper stories, as suggested by the Stockport example, in some cases each storey got taller

    Chester Rows

    So no help at all really! Sorry.

    There was little standardisation and what there was (eg the Burgage plot) tended to depend on measurements with a common name but local interpretation. Castle  builders grew international reputations and could reproduce plans for similar style buildings but local builders had a local style dependent on tradition and local materials. Wood workers in Cheshire might all have a rule of thumb for how big a door would be and where the first supports for the first floor would go in, but it wouldn’t be the same as a Suffolk woodworker’s idea. They were roughly similar as they were building for the average human being and to fulfil the same requirements for shelter warmth and security. But there were quite a few ways of doing it.

    Best wishes for the scratchbuilding.

    Oh – just found this for London:

    Medieval and Tudor Houses in London

    Table 3: Documented storey heights in London, 1276-1466

    Floor                Date                Type of document       Height

    ground             1276                civic regulation            9ft

    ground             1310                contract                       10ft

    ground             1384                building lease              12ft

    ground             1410                contract                       10ft 6in

    ground             1466                civic regulation            8ft 6in

    first                  1384                building lease              10ft

    first                  1405                contract                       11ft

    first                  1410                contract                       9ft

    second             1384                building lease              7ft

    second             1405                contract                       9ft

    Avatar photoCacique Caribe


    Oh I’m really going to have oodles of fun building this project.  Thanks so much.  You have definitely supplied me with lots of info and an even bigger lot to think about.

    I believe I used to have the Richard Harris book on timber framing but, alas, the flood from Hurricane Harvey took that away, along with many other treasures.

    ”First up – c1400-1500 not ‘Tudor’ (despite Henry VII’s accession in 1485)”

    I hate calling them Tudor for that exact same reason.  Thanks for pointing it out.

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9593487@N07/albums/with/72157710630529376

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Yeah, apologies for stating the obvious Dan- wasn’t trying to criticise.

    There are some significant differences between medieval buildings and late Tudor though. Chimneys for one. Chimneys appeared in the late 12th century in Europe but only in large, high status or institutional buildings – castles, palaces, Abbeys etc. for the most part. Most ordinary buildings, including most gentry and minor aristocratic ‘halls’, retained open hearths – smoke blackened roof beams a useful way of seeing if the building once had a double height main hall when later alterations introduced a first floor and a chimney – until the 16th or 17th century.

    Chimneys allowed the open hall to be filled in and  room heights to be reduced as they ducted smoke away – one of the reasons for the double height hall was to allow the smoke to gather and filter out at the top of the hall, allowing the people at ground level to breathe!

    Many of the buildings ceased being configured for defence as well, and doors and windows were widened and heightened during the later Elizabethan and Jacobean period as light and ease of movement in and out were prioritised over security.

    That is partly why I was trying to get my head around which period you wanted to build and which type of building.

    Looking forward to seeing the finished models!

    (Sorry to hear about your flood losses – I lost a lot of stuff in a storage facility fire some years ago – I wonder if that’s where my Brunskills went?)

    Avatar photoCacique Caribe

    I’m going to be making buildings for 28-30mm figures, so I’m going with 5mm = 1 foot (would that be 15mm = 1 meter then?).

    It’s not going to be fancy by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m going to be using cork tiles for the walls, blue/pink insulation foam cut up as stone blocks, balsa strips for beams and lots of card rectangles for roof tiles.  Like I said, nothing fancy.

    But this is a new period for me terrain-wise, and am excited to get started this coming weekend.  I would be very happy if they ended up looking like this, but much simpler of course:



    Thanks all!

    PS.  By the way, these YouTube channels have been very visually inspiring:

    – Eric’s Hobby Workshop

    – Devs & Dice

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9593487@N07/albums/with/72157710630529376

    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    Dan, you’re going to hate this answer, but, do what looks good to you in comparison to your figures.

    I do Architecture, and I always try to make things to a scale.  This has driven me insane multiple times (and made me the man I am today… lol) as gaming figures are not made to a scale.  Railroad figures are, however, and you can compare proportions and all of the things we have discussed and argued over many times before on various threads and forums.  As posted by very well spoken and knowledgeable people above, building a room dimensions are wildly variable between places and times.  BUT, a good rule of thumb you can use is that a room/floor height for a “nomral building” (such as a commoner town house or a village house with 2 floors) should be that a “flat” ceilinged room should be no taller than a person with their arms extended over their heads.  That can translate to taller for you model if you are using thick figure bases.  This again leads to “what looks right” as based figures often look much taller/bigger than the scaled items around them like doorways and vehicles.

    If you’re aiming for a historical look, don’t forget that many European building owners were taxed on the area their ground floor took up, hence some of those crazily overhanging upper floors that look so cool.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Avatar photoBowman Stringer

    Hey CC,

    It’s good to be as accurate as possible but there are some practical things to think about:

    So I base my 28mm figures on 30mm mdf round bases or metal washers. Using your scale, this is 6 feet across, correct? Do you want your figures to enter through the doorways?

    I use both 3mm and 1.5mm tall mdf bases, depending on the scale creep of my figures. That may impact how high to make your ceilings.

    Also, what if they are carrying weapons like halberds or spears? What if they are holding weapons over their heads?

    And finally, what are you doing with 28mm figures? I thought you were a confirmed 15mm man?



    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Darkest Star – the ‘Jettying’ of buildings has a lot of speculative explanations but I’m pretty sure in England at any rate it is unlikely to be related to taxation. I’m not aware that there was a building tax based on square footage of ground plan. Hearth tax and later window tax and various rents for unit ownership but not ground plan. I’m very happy to be proved wrong if someone can give me a primary source or even a reliable secondary hint.

    I’m not as certain about European medieval land taxation, but the main (only?) online source for this explanation of jettying in France I can find is a local guide book speculation which has even found its way into a Wikipedia page but without an original source.

    German medieval buildings – I’m going to have to hold my hands up and say I don’t know- there were so many local jurisdictions I wouldn’t know where to start – possibly in the Reichskammergericht records.

    Any sources for this theory in any jurisdiction?

    Or is it another Roman armour cleaning story?

    Sorry to hijack your building project thread Dan. The idea looks great.

    Avatar photoCacique Caribe

    Guy:  “Sorry to hijack your building project thread Dan”

    LOL.  No worries, the more the merrier.  The jettying phenomenon is not limited to N Europe though.  We saw several like that in Tuscany a few years ago.

    Bowman:  “And finally, what are you doing with 28mm figures? I thought you were a confirmed 15mm man?”

    It’s because there’s no one nearby that games 15mm SciFi or near future.  The only guys close to the house willing to play are gaming either WH fantasy or Mordheim, both of which need lots of terrain.  Mordheim only requires a handful or two of figures anyway.  So no really big investment there.  I bought a couple of sprues of Wargames Atlantic Conquistadores and will make it work.

    How are things with you?  What are you working on these days?  Shoot me an email.

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9593487@N07/albums/with/72157710630529376

    Avatar photoPaint it Pink

    Only anecdotal, but when I was a child aged between 5 and 7 IIRC, my grandmother use to be a cleaning lady. She took me out out say with her on a job, and a house we visited in Falmouth, had doors so narrow that even I as a child was surprised. Not only that, but low too. By that I mean my grandmother was barely five foot tall and the door wasn’t much taller than her.

    One is good, more is better

    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    Any sources for this theory in any jurisdiction?

      To be honest it’s just one of those things that stuck into my head from an Architectural History class from my first year of college, and I recall the question being on a test.  Property taxes being based on plots size of the land, overhangs provided more space, prevents structural twisting and shear, pouring out night soil doesn’t run down the face of the building, etm., etc.   I’ve heard it repeated often enough (and sometimes from those academics that you’re supposed to trust) that it has become fact in my head.  I am utterly happy to burn out any falsities from my memory banks with a soldering iron.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I wonder if it is manorial or seigneurial rents rather than taxes we are talking about?

    Burgage rents were usually related to the size of plot granted, but I don’t immediately see any advantage in building a smaller ground floor if you are being charged for the whole plot anyway. The freeholder or lord would lay out the plots for the burgesses to rent so he would have controlled frontage boundaries to allow for access. Jettying would get round that to an extent and protect lower storeys from weather.  Excessive jettying was fined and encroachment over another’s boundary prohibited.

    There were medieval English land taxes but they were related to the land not the building – Geld/Gafol, Carucage and they died out in the early 13thCentury when Royal taxation basis moved to personal property and movables in England.  Land tax as such didn’t come back in until the  late 17thCentury.

    Having spent an hour becoming increasingly depressed on the internet with ‘I heard it on the grapevine’ as my theme tune, I am becoming very suspicious of this story about taxation being at all associated with jettying. It has been ‘definitively’ linked to ‘a history teacher’, ‘Amsterdam tax laws’, ‘French tax laws’, ‘German building regulations’, general tax laws, and explained with allusion to Hearth Tax, Window Tax and Land Tax- all of which were very much post -medieval.

    Sorry Darkest Star – really not having a pop at you, but unless and until I track down a source I’m going with aesthetics, nicking a bit more space over the road, weather protection, effluent disposal and possibly improved stability through counterbalance on beam ends (over to you on that one I suspect!) as an explanation for jettying.

    Now about those interior door sizes… probably best to go with what works with your figures.

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    Regardless of archaic building regs…

    In less wealthy homes doors and windows would be smaller for practical reasons – any hole in the wall lets the heat out and the cold in. Lower ceilings for similar reasons.

    We stayed in a stone built bailiff’s cottage last summer. I’m 6 foot, and kept walloping my head off door lintels. The exterior walls themselves however were 18 inches thick…

    There were no standard door and window sizes either. You couldn’t nip down Wickes’ and pick up half a dozen ‘standard’ interior doors.

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoCacique Caribe

    I guess sizing the doors and ceilings to the figures is the way to go then.  And make the doorways as varied as possible.

    Thanks everyone!

    PS.  I’ve just ordered the book by Richard Harris and the one by Trevor Yorke!

    Loads of WIPs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9593487@N07/albums/with/72157710630529376

    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    Sorry Darkest Star – really not having a pop at you

    It’s no skin off my nose, Guy.  I’d rather be corrected and have the right information than continue to spout pre-internet indoctrination that is not only wrong but way wrong!

    CC, I think sizing to minis for custom stuff is the way to go, especially if you aren’t using manufactured (as in made by a company at a specific scale) item they have to fit in with.  You know how it looks when you try to use 15mm models with HO buildings, or 28mm ones with O gauge, just sort of weird.  Better to have the charming effect of everything matching up and fitting together.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

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