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English Renaissance - Late Renaissance Architecture

( Originally Published 1921 )



A. ANGLO-CLASSIC (A.D. 1625-1702)

The architecture of this period consists largely of the work of two of England's greatest architects—Inigo Jones (p. 702) and Sir Christopher Wren (p. 709)—and their best-known buildings will now be described.

INIGO JONES (A.D. 1573–1652) (p. 702).

Chilham Castle, Kent (A.D. 1614-16), is a transitional example of brick with stone dressings. The E-shaped facade has radiating side wings at the back forming a horseshoe court; while the porch has Jacobean baluster-columns. This house is the tentative work of an artist who was destined to Anglicise and adapt for domestic use the Classical Roman style.

English Renaissance Architecture
The Banqueting House, Whitehall, London (A.D. 1619-21) (p. 711), is a small portion only of the original design by Inigo Jones for an English royal palace, which was never carried into execution, owing to the differences between Charles I and his Parliament. This palace-scheme was one of the grandest architectural conceptions of the Renaissance in England, both in extent and in the finely adjusted proportions of its various parts (p. 711 A). The complete plan of the palace (p. 711 B), with its seven courts, shows the position the Banqueting House occupied on the Grand Court (800 ft. by 400 ft.), twice the size of the court of the Louvre, Paris (p. 623 E), and now partly absorbed into the thoroughfare of Whitehall. The facade of the Hall (p. 711 c), 75 ft. 6 ins. in height, is divided into a rusticated lower storey and two upper storeys, each contained within an Order of architecture in which no two adjacent columns are uniformly treated, except those in the centre. The lower windows have pediments, alternately triangular and segmental, and the upper windows have straight cornices ; while festoons and masks under the upper frieze suggest the feasting and revelry associated with the idea of a royal banqueting hall. The severely Classic treatment here employed for the first time in England was the natural result of Inigo Jones' study of the correct Palladian architecture of Italy, and it constituted nothing less than an architectural revolution following directly, as it did, on the free and picturesque Jacobean architecture. This noble fragment of what would have been the most imposing of royal palaces was converted into a Chapel Royal by George I, and in A.D. 1894 it became the Museum of the Royal United Service Institution.

S. Paul, Covent Garden, London (AD. 1631–38) (p. 712 G, H, J), was designed by Inigo Jones to be the " handsomest barn in England," for he was told by the Earl of Bedford to erect a church as simple and inexpensive as a barn, and he here showed, in the Tuscan portico, wide-spreading eaves and simple pediment, how it was possible to produce dignity and impressiveness by the simplest means. The arcades of Covent Garden Market, carried out in conjunction with this church, form an instance of successful town-planning.

Greenwich Hospital (p. 717) is another great scheme which, like Whitehall Palace, owed its inception to the genius of Inigo Jones. He himself erected the Queen's House (A.D. 1635) (p. 717 C, E) for the unhappy Queen Henrietta Maria, and on the Restoration the portion known as " King Charles's Block " (p. 717 E, F) was carried out (A.D. 1661–67) by his pupil, John Webb (A.D. 1611–74). The facades, with lofty Corinthian Order and chaste Classic details, resulted from a close study of Palladian architecture and recall a similar treatment by Michelangelo on the Capitol at Rome. It represents, however, only the commencement of a great building scheme afterwards carried to completion by Sir Christopher Wren and other architects of the eighteenth century (pp. 726, 743).

York Water-Gate, London (A.D. 1626) (p. 712 A, B, c), was designed for the Duke of Buckingham and executed by the master mason, Nicholas Stone, to form the river entrance of old York House, in days when the Thames was used as a highway for the pleasure barges of the nobility, but it now stands isolated in the Embankment gardens. This is a charming little piece of monumental architecture, with rusticated masonry and Tuscan Order surmounted by a pediment with armorial bearings flanked by " lions couchants."

Stoke Park, Northants (A.D. 1630–36) (p. 737 N), originally consisted of a central block containing the living-rooms connected by quadrant colonnades to wings for library and chapel. This plan, derived from houses by Palladio round Vicenza, influenced the setting-out of larger Georgian houses (p. 734)

Ingo Jones designed other houses, both in town and country, such as Houghton Hall, Beds (A.D. 1616–21) ; Raynham Hall, Norfolk (A.D. 1630) (p. 738 E) ; West Woodhay House, Berkshire (A.D. 1635), one of the earliest examples in rubbed brickwork ; Wilton House, Wilts (additions) (A.D. 164o–48) ; Chevening Place, Kent (A.D. 1630) (p. 737), with wings added later ; additions to Kirby Hall, Northants (A.D. 1638–40) (p. 708) ; Houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields and Great Queen Street (A.D. 1620) ; Barber-Surgeons' Hall (A.D. 1636) ; and (with John Webb) Ashburnham House, Westminster (A.D. 1640), notable for its fine staircase (pp. 741 A, 762 J). Lincoln's Inn Chapel, in the Gothic style (A.D. 1617–23), is one of his earliest works. S. Katherine Cree, London (A.D. 1630), and the Inner Court arcades of S. John's College, Oxford (A.D. 1636), have also been ascribed to Jones, while the porch of S. Mary, Oxford (A.D. 1633), is perhaps from his design. According to recent investigations, however, it appears that John Webb (A.D. 1611–74) was the architect of many important buildings such as Coleshill, Berks (A.D. 1650) (p. 737 c), and Thorpe Hall, Northants (A.D. 1656) (p. 737 M), which have been accredited to Inigo Jones, and have influenced some of the smaller houses of the Georgian period (p. 733).

SIR CHRISTOPHER WREN (A.D. 1632-1723) (p. 703).

Pembroke College Chapel, Cambridge (A.D. 1663), designed for his uncle, the Bishop of Ely, was Wren's first essay in architecture, and, though a daring innovation, shows his invariable restraint in design, with its single Order of Corinthian pilasters, central window flanked by niches, large pediments, and hexagonal cupola (p. 762 A).

S. Paul's Cathedral, London (A.D. 1675–1710) (pp. 543, 718, 721, 722, 723, 727), ranks as Wren's masterpiece, and as one of the finest Renaissance cathedrals in Europe. The first design for the Cathedral, of which there is a model in the north triforium, was a Greek cross in plan, with projecting vestibule (p. 718 A, B), but the influence of the clergy, who desired a long nave and choir suitable for ritual, finally caused the selection of a Latin cross or Mediaeval type of plan (p. 718 D). The interior has a length of 46o ft. including apse, a breadth including aisles of 100 ft., and an area of about 64,000 square ft. This plan consists of a great central space at the crossing, like that in Ely Cathedral, crowned by a dome ; choir and nave in three bays, north and south transepts with semicircular porticoes, and projecting western vestibule of coupled columns. The western bay of the nave is, unlike the other bays, square on plan, and is flanked by chapels, which project externally. This bay (p. 721 c) has coupled columns supporting lateral arches, through the northern of which is visible the Chapel of S. Dunstan, with its fine columnar screen of carved woodwork. The piers of the nave (pp. 718 c, 721) are fronted with Corinthian pilasters supporting entablature and attic, while the nave is crowned by a series of ingeniously designed saucer-like domes, about 90 ft, above the floor (p. 544 F–J). The windows in the clear-story are not visible from the exterior (pp. 718, 721 A, B, 722 F). The vault surfaces of the choir have been decorated by Sir William Richmond with coloured glass mosaics, and there is great difference of opinion as to the suitability of this treatment. The dome (pp. 718 c, D, 721 A, B) is carried on eight piers, and is 112 ft. in diameter at the base of the high drum, at the level of the Whispering Gallery, diminishing to 102 ft. at the top of the drum, and is of triple construction. The inner dome of brickwork, 18 ins. thick, has its summit 217 ft. above the floor, while the intermediate conical dome, also of brickwork 18 ins, thick, and strengthened by a double chain of iron (p. 722 E), supports the stone lantern, ball, and cross ; besides which the outer dome also rests on this intermediate cone and is formed of timber covered with lead (pp. 718 c, 722 E) . Eight openings are formed in the summit of the outer dome .to admit light to the inner dome (p. 722 D, E) (cf. dome of the Pantheon, Paris, p. 635 E). The magnificent monument (pp, 718 D, 721 A) to the Duke of Wellington, by Alfred Stevens, is fittingly enshrined in Wren's great Cathedral. Like some Elizabethan monuments, it has a podium supporting the sarcophagus and recumbent - effigy of the Duke enclosed by marble Corinthian columns and crowned by an attic flanked by bronze groups, the whole surmounted by an equestrian statue.

The exterior is exceedingly effective and groups well with the central dome. The facades have two Orders, the lower Corinthian and the upper Composite, totalling 107 ft. 8 ins. in height (p. 722 F). The aisles are only one storey high, so the part above them is a screen-wall introduced to give dignity and to act as a counterweight to the flying buttresses concealed behind it, which receive the thrust of the nave vault. Consider-able criticism has been directed against this screen wall, which is said to be a sham, since the space behind it is unroofed, and a suggestion is here put forward (p. 722 n) that such objections might be removed if the wall were pierced with openings so as to show the flying buttresses behind. The western facade, 18o ft. wide (pp. 722 D, 723), approached by a broad flight of steps which give scale to the building, has a central two-storeyed portico of coupled Corinthian and Composite columns superimposed, surmounted by a pediment sculptured with the Conversion of S. Paul. The portico is flanked by two beautifully proportioned tapering towers, which are most pleasing features in the design, 210 ft. high above the nave floor, that on the left containing bells and that on the right the clock. The external dome (pp. 722 A, 723) is probably the finest in Europe, for the projecting masses of masonry at the meeting of nave and transepts, forming the vestries and stairs to dome, express support from the ground upwards (pp. 543, 718 n). The colonnade round the drum, which latter has an external diameter of 140 ft., is particularly effective with three-quarter columns attached to radiating buttress-walls ; while as every fourth intercolumniation is filled with masonry, there is an appearance of strength and solidity lacking in the Pantheon, Paris. Above the colonnade is the balustrade known as the " Stone Gallery," and behind this rises an attic supporting the dome, which is crowned with lantern, ball, and cross, rising to a height of 366 ft. above the pavement.

There are some striking contrasts in the history of the building of the great Metropolitan Cathedral and that of S. Peter, Rome (p. 582). S. Paul, London, had one architect and one master mason, and was built in 35 years, during the episcopate of one bishop while S. Peter, Rome, had 13 successive architects and numerous master masons, and the building extended over loo years, during the pontificates of 20 popes. Mountainous in mass, with its soaring central dome and lofty lateral towers, this greatest of English Renaissance buildings appealed to the imagination of that day as rising from the mists of London, like an Alpine peak.

" S. Paul's high dome amid her vassal bands
Of neighbouring spires, a regal chieftain stands;
And over fields of ridgy roofs appear
With distance softly tinted, side by side,
In kindred grace, like twain of sisters dear,
The towers of Westminster, her abbey's pride,
While far beyond the hills of Surrey shine
Through their soft haze, and show their wavy line." BAILLIE.

The London City Churches (pp. 727-728), 53 in number, designed (A.D. 1670-1711) by Wren in the Renaissance style to replace those destroyed by the Great Fire, are models of simplicity in design and restraint in treatment. The varied towers and steeples make London City one of the most picturesque in the world, and group up to form a unique setting to the Great Cathedral dome, as pictured by the late Professor Cockerell (p. 727) . Many of them are most skilfully planned on cramped and awkward sites (p. 724), and are among the first churches actually designed to meet the requirements of Protestant worship, in which a central preaching-space usurps the long nave and aisles which had been suitable for the pro-cessions of Roman Catholic ritual.

S. Stephen, Walbrook (A.D .1672—79) (pp . 724, 731 M), is famous for original and ingenious planning which produces a wonderful effect within a limited area. Enclosed in a rectangle are 16 columns, of which 8 are arranged in a circle to carry a central cupola, and the special feature here is the judicious disposition of single columns so as to produce the effect of a church with five aisles of varying width.

S. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside (A.D. 1671—80) (pp. 728 R, 724 G, 732, 320), is specially notable not only for " Bow Bells," but for its graceful Renaissance steeple, the masterpiece of that particular type which Wren may be said to have evolved. With the Gothic spire as his prototype, he surmounted a square tower with a pyramidal spire composed of receding stages of encircling columns, and gave unity to the design by a clever use of inverted consoles.

S. Bride,Fleet Street (A.D. 1680) (pp. 727 C, 732, 735), has a similar though less successful steeple, in which the absence of the inverted consoles gives a telescopic effect to the series of columned stages.

S. Martin, Ludgate (A.D. 1684) (pp. 727 D, 724 D), has an interior with four Corinthian columns to the central vault, but is best known for its beautiful little steeple, consisting of a square tower connected by side scrolls to the facade and surmounted by an octagonal stage with timber spire and weather vane.

S. Clement Danes, Strand (A.D. 1684, steeple finished A.D. 1719), and S. James, Piccadilly (A.D. 1683) (p. 735), are both remarkable for their two-storeyed aisles in which the galleries are supported by square piers surmounted by Corinthian columns and a barrelvaulted plaster roof, intersected by semi-cylindrical vaults at right angles over the gallery bays.

S. Mary Abchurch (A.D. 1686) (p. 724 A) is a small church in a cramped position with the dome as the principal feature, and not the steeple, which is neither fine nor well placed ; but Wren lavished his decoration on altar-piece, organ case, pulpit, and pews to produce a fine interior, which even appears spacious under its painted dome.

S. Mildred, Bread Street (A.D. 1677—83), is a rectangle in three compartments with central dome on pendentives, and is quite a gem in the perfection of its parts and in the beauty of its carved woodwork.

S. Lawrence Jewry (A.D. 1671—80) (p. 724 B), S. Benetfink (A.D. 1673—76) (p. 724 C), now destroyed, S. Mary-at-Hill (A.D. 1672—77) (p. 724 E), S. Anne and S. Agnes (A.D. 1681) (p. 724 F), S. Swithin, Cannon Street (A.D. 1678) (p. 724 H), Christ Church, Newgate Street (A.D. 1687, steeple 1704) (p. 724 J), and S. Magnus, London Bridge (A.D. 1676—1705) (p. 724 K), all show Wren's subtle adaptation of plan to site.

S. Alban, Wood Street (A.D. 1685), S. Dunstan in the East (A.D. 1698), S. Mary, Aldermary (A.D. 1711) (p. 728 G), and S. Michael, Cornhill (A.D. 1672—1721) (p. 728 J) offer examples of his treatment of Gothic spires.

Wren designed a number of collegiate buildings in Oxford and Cambridge which display his peculiar power of adapting the design to meet the exigencies both of site and purpose. At Oxford there is the Sheldonian Theatre (A.D. 1664) (p. 728 x), which bears evidence of scientific skill in the construction of the roof and in the excellence of acoustic properties ; while the Library, Queen's College (A.D. 1682), the Inner Court, Trinity College (A.D. 1665), and the Tom Tower, Christ Church (A.D. 1682) (p. 728 s), exhibit Wren's mastery in design. The Ashmolean Museum (A.D. 1677) was designed by T. Wood under Wren's influence. At Cambridge there are Pembroke College Chapel (A.D. 1663) (p. 719), Emmanuel College Chapel (A.D. 1668–77), and Trinity College Library (A.D. 1679) (p. 728 z). The School Room, Winchester (A.D. 1684), links the name of Wren with that of the cathedral builder, William of Wykeham.

Among Wren's secular works are the Monument, London (A.D. 1671) (p. 728 H), to commemorate the Great Fire ; the Fountain Court and garden facades (A.D. 1690) of Hampton Court Palace (pp. 377 B, 727 u), which have been described in connection with the Tudor portion of Henry VIII (p. 38o) ; two blocks of Greenwich Hospital (A.D. 1696–1705) (p. 716, 717, 727 E) ; Chelsea Hospital (A.D. 1682-92) (p. 728 F) ; Temple Bar, London (A.D. 1672) (p. 728 w) (now at Theobald's Park, Herts); Marlborough House, Pall Mall (A.D. 1710) ; and the Banqueting Hall (Orangery) and additions to Kensington Palace (A.D. 1690–1704). The Temple, London (A.D. 1674–84), with its simple brick facades and carved doorways, also shows Wren's versatility in adapting design to purpose.

Winchester (Royal) Palace (A.D. 1683), now used as barracks, was designed by Wren ; while Wolvesey Palace, Winchester, was rebuilt (A.D. 1684) under his influence, but has been since mostly pulled down.

Morden College, Blackheath (A.D. 1695) (pp. 737 K, 747 A) bears witness to the spirit of benevolence of the age, and is planned with rooms for forty pensioners. Its red brickwork, stone quoins, and sash windows contrast with its columned entrance over which are the statues of the founder and his wife, and a useful clock-turret. The courtyard, surrounded by its effective and reposeful facade and colonnade providing a covered access to the different rooms, completes this interesting building.

Abingdon Town Hall (A.D. 1677) (p. 747 F), with its open market and assembly-room over, is a bold design with pilasters including two storeys, and obviously owes much to the influence of Sir Christopher Wren.

Guildford Town Hall (A.D. 1683) (p. 762 c) is a bold and picturesque building of this period, with its carved brackets supporting the overhanging storey, large windows separated by pilasters, consoled cornice, hexagonal turret and projecting clock with wrought-iron stays, and shows the influence of Wren.

Windsor Town Hall (A.D. 1688) is also by Wren, and Rochester Guild-hall (A.D. 1687) is by Wren or one of his pupils.

Wren's facile genius also found scope in designs for country houses for the nobility, and for houses in country towns for the prosperous middle classes, now firmly established in the social life of England.

Belton House, Grantham (A.D. 1689) (pp. 736 B, 737 B, 741 c), is one of Wren's houses of the H type of plan (p. 737 B), with central steps leading to the hall and rooms on the principal floor. There is a main staircase to the right of the hall, and in each wing service stairs from the kitchen in the basement. The exterior (p. 736 B) has a slightly projecting centre surmounted by a pediment and has hipped roofs, dormers, belvedere, and central turret. The dining-room (p. 741 c) has decorative treatment of the late Renaissance, with walls panelled from floor to ceiling, doors with large panels and pediments, and chimney-piece with bold mouldings and cornice surmounted by a frame of elaborately carved birds, fruit, and flowers by Grinling Gibbons, while the plaster ceiling has a geometrical design with richly modelled mouldings.

Groombridge Place, Kent (pp. 736 A, 737 F), is generally regarded as one of Wren's works. The plan is of the H type, reminiscent of that of a Jacobean mansion, but the central hall has no screen or dais, and is a thoroughfare room. The house, reached by a bridge across the moat p. 736 A), is of red brick with sash windows, divided by stout bars ; it has a central portico of Ionic columns, and hipped roofs, dormers, and tower-like chimney-stacks.

Among other examples of these different kinds of houses are Honington Hall, Warwickshire (A.D. 1680), with later additions, the Master's House in the Temple, London (A.D. 1674-84), and the House in West Street, Chichester (A.D. 1696)—in all of which staircases, chimney-pieces, wall panelling, and ceilings show how he applied late Renaissance motifs to the fittings of the English home. Melton Constable, Norfolk (A.D. 1687), has also been ascribed to Wren.

Eltham House, Kent (A.D. 1664) (p. 737 E), now the Golf Club, was designed by Hugh May, Paymaster (Surveyor) to the King's Works. He carried out other buildings at Windsor Castle, Cornbury (Oxfordshire), and Cassiobury, and also was a Commissioner for the repair of S. Paul, London, and was one of those who carried on the traditions of Sir Christopher Wren.



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