Tudor Chimneys in Miniature

I devised this way of making elaborate brick chimney stacks whilst building my 1/12th scale Tudor dolls house in 2006. I have revisited the method and reproduced this DIY project especially for the DHMS website ...

During the Tudor period, houses were more frequently built on two floors, the open halls being boarded over, as well as being partitioned into more rooms. Brick came into use, and this ideal material made chimneys possible, even in houses built of wood. Chimneys remained a symbol of prestige and affluence for some time; what better way to show off your wealth than to have a large brick chimney stack atop your house? Anyone who could afford to have several wanted everyone to know about it, which made these chimneys a dominant feature of Tudor houses. The chimneys were built good and tall to carry any sparks high up and away from the highly inflammable wooden tiles or thatched roofs. They were also made entirely of brick; venting caps to control downdrafts, otherwise known as chimney pots, were not invented until later.

To make a stack of 4 patterned Tudor chimneys, in the style of those found at Hampton Court Palace, you will need:

  • 4 Plastic, Card or Wood Tubes
  • Embroidery Canvas
  • Various Braids
  • Glue
  • Sharp scissors
  • Circles of wood, wheels, buttons etc
  • 4 Plastic Chess Men
  • Saw
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Tooth pick

My plastic tubes came from the local supermarket; they are the insides of till rolls and stand about 2½ inches high. If you ask nicely, your local mini-market may save them for you! However, narrow cardboard tubes or wooden dowel is also fine. Choose a height and diameter that suits the size of your house.

  • Cover the tube (1) in embroidery canvas (2) and leave to dry. Wrap braid around in various designs (3), using plenty of PVA or tacky glue. When dry and solid, clip neatly back to the tube with sharp scissors (4).

  • Decorate each of the 4 tubes with a different Tudoresque design in braid. Miniature rick-rack is particularly effective.

  • Glue a selection of buttons, wooden circles, discs etc., to the bottom of each tube. Cut the base from 4 cheap plastic chessmen, invert and glue to the top.

  • The tops and bottoms should be the same on each chimney, with just the patterned centres diverse.

  • Paint the inside of any white/cream chess pieces black. Cover the chimney pots with a grey undercoat. The grey paint works as a primer and also doubles up to resemble the mortar between the bricks on the finished piece.

  • Mix a nice brick colour in undiluted acrylic paint. Working a small section at a time, brick the chimneys by painting, then marking out the brick shapes with a tooth pick to reveal the grey mortar coloured paint beneath. When they are all complete, vary the colours of the paint with darker tones, and dry-brush black to the tops to resemble soot. An optional coat of matt acrylic varnish will protect your work.


• Assemble the 4 chimney pots onto your brick chimney stack. These can be in a row as the first photo above, or in a symmetrical square as in the second photo. This depends entirely on the shape of the stack and roof of your dolls house.

This is a photo of the real things at Hampton Court Palace - to which the miniature replicas bear a striking resemblence don't you think?

Cheap Plastic Chess Men
Some good sources of cheap chess sets are eBay, Charity Shops and Car Boot Sales. If you are really lucky you may find a set with castles/rooks, just the right size, that have excellent castellation’s to add to the top of your chimneys.

Have fun!