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English Renaissance - Jacobean Architecture

( Originally Published 1921 )


The great era of mansion building, which had commenced under Elizabeth, continued in the reign of James I.

Hatfield House, Herts (A.D. 1607-11), (pp. 693 A, 696 F, 706 A), built for Robert, first Earl of Salisbury, stands pre-eminent amongst the many noble piles of this period in displaying the special characteristics and elaboration of treatment considered suitable for the country mansion of a nobleman. The house is E-shaped in plan (p. 696 F), with central hall and projecting symmetrical wings, and is set off by formal gardens, designed with the same care as is displayed in the planning of the house itself (p. 695 B). The entrance front, 225 ft. long, is of daringly plain brickwork with stone mullioned windows, relieved by a projecting central entrance ; while the bay-windows of the wings are taken up as small lateral towers, and the building is finished by a flat roof and balustrade and dominated by a central clock-turret. The south front (p. 706 A) is much more ornate in treatment, with Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Orders superimposed to form a centre-piece flanked by an arcaded ground storey with mullioned windows and pierced parapet. The two-storeyed hall (p. 693 A), with its large mullioned windows, minstrels' gallery, and modelled plaster ceiling, is a fully developed Renaissance edition of the traditional Mediaeval hall ; while the long gallery, chapel, grand staircase, and suites of private rooms all contribute to the completeness of this Jacobean house.

Holland House, Kensington (A.D. 1607) (p. 705), by John Thorpe, erected for Sir William Cope and afterwards inherited by the Earl of Holland, has been the residence of many famous men. The plan (p. 705 B, c) is H-shaped, with entrance at one end, as at Bramshill (p. 696 G), and arcades on the south bordering a fine terrace (p. 705 A). The central porch, carried up as a tower with ogee roof, is flanked by bay-windows and by curved gables, while right and left are the later arcades and wings (A.D. 1622). The interior has been altered so that the grand staircase encroaches on one of the arcades. The doorway (p. 705 D) and the chimney-piece in the White Parlour (p. 705 E) are noticeable features.

Bramshill House, Hants (A.D. 1605–12) (pp. 696 G, 752 A, D, J), was designed for Lord Zouche, probably by John Thorpe. The plan (p. 696 G) is of the H-type, with the entrance through an arcaded porch direct into the hall, which thus loses its feudal character, but still retains the dais. An unusual feature is the internal area for light. The long gallery (130 ft. long), the terrace with its arcades (p. 752 J), and the oriel window (p. 752 A) are among many beautiful features of this building.

Blickling Hall, Norfolk (A.D. 1620) (pp. 696 J, 752 G, 755 B, C, F), is in brick and stone, as usual in Norfolk, and the plan is not unlike that of Bramshill. It has two internal courts, the outer court giving entrance to the hall, which is a thoroughfare room, as at Aston Hall (p. 696 H) ; at the external angles of the building are square towers. The principal entrance (p. 752 G), reached across the moat, has an arched opening with carved spandrels, framed with Doric columns and entablature, surmounted by the arms of Sir Henry Hobart. The staircase (p. 755 B, c) is a majestic feature, with the upper part in two opposite flights—unusual in this period—and it has boldly carved newels surmounted by figures, and an arched balustrade. The chimney-piece (p. 755 F) has flanking pilasters diminishing towards the base and surmounted by Hermes figures which frame heraldic devices.

Some other well-known Jacobean mansions are : Chastleton House, Oxford (A.D. 1603–14) ; Audley End, Essex (A.D 1609–16) (p. 761 A), by John Thorpe ; Knole House, Kent (A.D. 16o5) (p. 693 B) (re-modelled) ; Charlton House, Wilts (A.D. 1607) ; Stockton House, Wilts (A.D. 161o) (p. 755 A) ; Aston Hall, Warwickshire (A.D. 1618–35) (pp. 696 H, 761 c), from designs of John Thorpe ; and Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire (A.D. 1613), by Huntingdon Smithson.


This period saw a number of additions to colleges both at Oxford and Cambridge.

The Bodleian Library, Oxford (A.D. 1613–18) (p. 706 c), formerly the Old Schools, by Thomas Holt, is a conspicuous instance of the work of the period, for the tower over the gateway is a curious but effective mixture of traditional Gothic and new Renaissance, with mullioned windows and canopied niches flanked by the five Orders of architecture, one above the other ; while the whole is capped by Gothic pinnacles.

Thomas Holt was very busy at the older University at this time, for at Merton College he designed the entrance, with superimposed Orders (A.D. 161o), and library ; Wadham College entrance and hall screen (A.D. 1610-13), besides additions to Oriel and Jesus Colleges (A.D. 1612) ; while Pembroke College (A.D. 1624) is by another hand. At Cambridge the quadrangle of Clare College (A.D. 1634), by Westley, belongs to the latter part of the period, but it was not until later years that Worcester College, Oxford (A.D. 1714), and Downing College, Cambridge (A.D. 1800), were founded.


Mediaeval manor houses supplied a good ground-work for Jacobean architects to elaborate with Renaissance additions and fittings, such as we see in South Wraxall Manor, Wilts, and Cranborne Manor House, Dorset (A.D. 1612), which is a Tudor building with a Jacobean casing ; while Fountains Hall, Yorkshire (A.D. 1611), is a complete example, built largely with material from the Mediaeval abbot's house.


The building now known as S. Peter's Hospital, Bristol (A.D. 1607), is a fine half-timbered house of this period, with overhanging upper storeys and panelled " Court Room " with carved chimney-piece and modelled plaster ceilings.


Many market halls, as at Shrewsbury and Chipping Campden, show how the Jacobean style was applied to buildings for all purposes in this period.


The need for hospitals and almshouses, which had already been recognised in the Mediaeval period (p. 397), became greater after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and many hospitals were erected in this period.

The Whitgift Hospital, Croydon (A.D. 1597), with its fine quadrangle, common hall, and living-rooms, still carries on the uses for which it was founded. Sackville College, East Grinstead (A.D. 16o8), Weekley Hospital, Northants (A.D. 1611), Chipping Campden Hospital (A.D. 1612), Trinity Hospital, Greenwich (A.D. 1613), Trinity Hospital, Castle Rising (A.D. 1614), Eyre's Hospital, Salisbury (A.D. 1617), and Abbot's Hospital, Guildford (A.D. 1619), are a few of these buildings—all of which have a similar arrangement of hall, kitchen, chapel, and rooms for the master and inmates.

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