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in the time of Walpole, enabled him to bring to the knowledge of the world, and perpetuate the memory of, an artist of no mean powers, whose name, till that author's time, was almost buried in oblivion, though he was the architect of most of the principal and palatial edifices erected during the reigns of Elizabeth, and James, her successor. His name was John Thorpe; and at the sale of the library of the Hon. Charles Greville in 1810, the MS. in question came into the possession of the late Sir John Soane, Professor of Architecture to the Royal Academy. It is a folio, consisting of 280 pages, wherein the plans, often without a scale, are nevertheless accurately executed. Several of the subjects were merely designs for proposed mansions. The elevations are neatly drawn and shadowed. The general form of the plans is that of three sides of a quadrangle, the portico in the centre being an open arcade finished by a turreted cupola. When the quadrangles are perfect, they are, for convenience, surrounded by an open corridor. The windows, especially in the principal front, are large and lofty, and mostly alternated with bows or projecting divisions, and always so at the flanks. The ornaments are of the cinque cento school, as far as it was understood here, and are universally rude imitations of the works of Lescot and Vignola, – of the latter, of course, much debased. Great efforts were made by Thorpe to group the chimneys, which were embellished with Roman Doric columns, and other conceits. The contents of the volume are as follow : —
1. The ground plan of Old Somerset House. 2. Buckhurst House in Sussex, whereof are a ground plan and elevation. The front extends 230 ft. The quadrangle is 100 ft. by 80 ft., and the hall 80 ft. by 50 ft. 3. (Page 24.) The garden front of a nobleman's house, probably only a design. 4. “The way how to drawe any ground plot into the order of perspective,” with diagrams and written descriptions. 5. A design for a large house with three sides of a quadrangle. 6. An elevation of a house for Sir Thomas Dorrell in Lincolnshire. 7. Godstone. An open corridor of the Doric order. 8. Copthall in Essex, built for Sir Thomas Heneage, to whom the manor was granted by Queen Elizabeth. The gallery, of extraordinary length, as compared with its height and width, was 168 ft. long, 22 ft. high, and the same wide; and the inner court of the mansion was 83 ft. square. 9. Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire, the inscription whereon runs thus: “En has Francisci Willoughbori AEdes, rara arte constructas Willoughba is relictas. Inchoata, 1580– 1588. Mr. Dallaway observes, on this inscription, that the monument of Robert Smithson in Wollaton Church appears to invalidate Thorpe's claim to this design. It runs thus: “Mr. Robert Smithson, architector and surveyor unto the most worthy house of Wollaton, with divers others of great account, ob. 1614.” He was probably Thorpe's pupil and successor.
10. A design of a quadrangle intersected by a corridor.
28. Longford Castle, Wiltshire (fig. 202.). A most singular production. A diagram
Green, whose loftiness and similitude to a castle, caused some ridicule of him by the rhymesters of the day
441. Walpole, upon Thorpe's Compositions, observes, that the taste of this master's man
sions was that “bastard.style which intervened between Gothic and Grecian architecture, or which, perhaps, was the style that had been invented for the houses of the nobility when they first ventured, on the settlement of the kingdom after the termination of the quarrel between the Roses, to abandon their fortified dungeons, and consult convenience and magnificence.” The same author continues, “Thorpe's ornaments on the balustrades, porches, and outsides of windows are barbarous and ungraceful, and some of his vast windows advance outwards in a sharp angle; but there is judgment in his disposition of apartments and offices, and he allots more ample space for halls, staircases, and chambers of state. He appears, also, to have resided at Paris, and even seems to have been employed there.” Among the designs he made is that of a whimsical edifice, designed for himself, forming on the plan the initial letters of his name Hs, which are joined by a corridor, the being the situation of the offices, and the is being skilfully distributed into large and small apartments. The epigraph to the design is as follows: —
“Thes 2 Letters I and T "
“Joyned together as you see”
Walpole truly observes of this volume, that “it is a very valuable record of the magnificence of our ancestors, and preserves memorials of many sumptuous buildings of which no other monument remains.” We ought, perhaps, to have suffered our account of Thorpe to have been preceded by those of others, but the conspicuous rank he holds in the list of English architects of this period induced us to place him before another, for a little time his predecessor in the works of the country. We allude to the name of Robert Adams, who translated Ubaldini's account of the defeat of the Spanish Armada from the Italian into Latin; a feat which we fear but few architects of the present day would easily accomplish, such is the fall of education for artists, notwithstanding all the boasts of march of intellect. This translation appeared in 4to., 1589. He was surveyor of the queen's buildings, and appears to have been a man of considerable ability. His place of sepulture was in an aisle on the north side of the old church at Greenwich, with this inscription, “Egregio Viro, Roberto Adams, operum regiorum supervisori architecturae, peritissimo, ob. 1595. Simon Basil, operationum regiarum contrarotulator, hoc posuit monumentum 1601.”
442. Bernard Adams and Lawrence Bradshaw were also eminent among the architects of the period under our consideration; but we must notice more particularly Gerard Christmas, who was associated with Bernard Jansen in the erection of Northampton, afterwards Suffolk, and now Northumberland House, not strictly belonging in time, though in style, to the reign of Elizabeth. Both of these architects had acquired considerable fame, and were, deservedly, much employed. In Northumberland House the cyphers of Christmas, C. A. (Christmas a dificavit), were used in the street front. The letters H. N. were originally in the balustrade here, standing for Howard Earl of Northampton, and were frequently repeated, a practice then much in vogue, for there are many examples of inscriptions of letters enclosed within the balustrade, as if within lines, and pierced so that the sky seen through them renders them distinct from almost every point of view. Bernard Jansen was probably the architect first employed at the splendid mansion of Audley Inn in Essex, for Thomas Howard Earl of Suffolk; and, besides the association with Christmas above mentioned, was joined with Moses Glover in completing Northumberland House, and was probably the architect who finished Sion House in Middlesex, for Henry Earl of Northumberland, who had at the time expended 9000l. in the work.
443. Robert and Huntingdon Smithson, father and son, were engaged on Wollaton Hall (fig. 203. at the foot of the preceding page), in Nottinghamshire, as also at Bolsover in Derbyshire. The former died in 1614, at the age of seventy-nine, and the latter in 1648, but it is pretty certain that Thorpe was consulted in this splendid work, for among his designs, as the reader will recollect, are some for Wollaton.
444. Thomas Holte, a native of York, was the architect of the public schools at Oxford
(fig. 204.), of which the hint might have been taken from the Campanile of Santa Chiara at Naples, and of the quadrangles of Merton and Wadham colleges. He was the first in this country who introduced the classical orders in series above each other. He evidently borrowed the practice from Philibert Delorme, who had done the same thing at the Chateau d'Anet, near Paris, one of the victim edifices of the Revolution. We apprehend any argument to prove the absurdity of such conceits is unnecessary. 445. Many of the grandest works of what is termed the Elizabethan, or, in truth, the last Tudor style, were not completed before the middle of the reign of James I. ; so that it may be said to have been practised until the days of Inigo Jones, in whose early works it may be traced. “This fashion,” says Dallaway, “ of building enormous houses was extended to that period, and even to the civil war. Audley Inn, Hatfield, Charlton, Wilts, and particularly Wollaton, are those in which the best architecture of that age may be seen. Others of the nobility, deserting their baronial residences, indulged themselves in a rivalship in point of extent and grandeur of their country-houses, which was, of course, followed by opulent merchants, the founders of new families. Sir Baptist Hickes, the king's mercer (afterwards ennobled), built Campden House, Gloucestershire, which was scarcely inferior to Hatfield, afterwards burnt down. There is scarcely a county in England, which cannot boast of having once contained similar edifices; a very few are still inhabited; others may be traced by their ruins, or remembered by the oldest villagers, who can confirm the tradition; and the sites, at least, of others are pointed out by descriptions as having existed within the memory of man.”
446. The following is a list of some of the principal palatial houses finished before 1600. Others of the reign of Elizabeth's successors will hereafter be noticed. Of so many of them are the names of the architects undetermined, though many are assigned to those we have already mentioned, that we shall not attempt to assign a column to the artists in question, for fear of misleading our readers.
Name. Date. County. Founder. Present State. Catledge - - 1560 | Cambridge | Lord North - - Taken down. Basinghouse - I - Hants - Marquis of Winton - In ruins. Kelston - - - Somerset - || Sir J. Harrington - Rebuilt. Gorhambury - 1565 | Herts - Sir N. Bacon - - In ruins. Buckhurst - - Sussex - Lord Buckhurst - - Destroyed. Knowle - - 1570 Kent - - || Lord Buckhurst - Perfect. Penshurst - - Kent - || Sir H. Sydney - - Perfect. Kenilworth - 1575 Warwick - | Earl of Leicester - In ruins. Hunsdon - - - Warwick - || Lord Hunsdon - - Rebuilt. Wanstead - 1576 Essex - Earl of Leicester - || Destroyed. Burleigh - 1577 Lincoln - || Lord Burleigh - - Perfect. Osterley - - || - Middlesex - | Sir Thomas Gresham - Rebuilt. Longleat - 1579 || Wilts - || Sir J. Thynne - - Perfect. Stoke Pogis - 1580 | Bucks - Earl of Huntingdon - | Rebuilt. Toddington - - Beds - Lord Cheyney - - Destroyed. Theobalds - - Herts - || Lord Burleigh - - Destroyed. Wimbledon - 1588 Surrey - || Sir T. Cecil - - Rebuilt. | Westwood - 1590 Worcester - Sir J. Packington - Perfect. | Hardwick Hall - 1597 | Derby - Countess of Shrewsbury - In ruins.
447. Relative to Osterley, in the above table, a curious anecdote has been preserved by Fuller, in his Worthies of Middleser. Queen Elizabeth, when visiting its magnificent merchant, the owner, observed to him that the court ought to have been divided by a wall. He immediately collected so many artificers, that before the queen had risen the next morning, says the historian, a wall had been actually erected.
448. Many of these houses possessed terraces of imposing grandeur, which were connected by broad or double flights of steps, with balustrades, whereof, if we may judge from Winstanley's print of Wimbledon, the seat of Sir Edward Cecil, it was a very fine example. The following extracts from the parliamentary survey of it in 1649 will convey some notion of its extent. “The scite of this manor-house being placed on the side slipp of a rising grownde, renders it to stand of that height, that betwixt the basis of the brick wall of the lower court, and the hall door of the sayd manor-house, there are five several ascents, consisting of three score and ten stepps, which are distinguished in a very graceful manner. The platforms were composed of Flanders brick, and the stepps of freestone, very well wrought. On the ground floor was a room called the stone gallery, 108 foot long, pillared and arched with gray marble.” The ceiling of the hall “was of fret or parge work, in the middle whereof was fixed one well-wrought landskip, and round the same, in convenient distances, seven other pictures in frames, as ornaments to the whole roome; the floor was of black and white marble.”
449. As we have above observed, the Elizabethan style is a mixture of Gothic and Italian. It is characterised by orders very inaccurately and rudely profiled; by arcades whose openings are often extravagantly wide, their height not unfrequently running up into the entablature. The columns on the piers are almost universally on pedestals, and are often banded in courses of circular or square blocks at intervals of their height; when square, they are constantly decorated with prismatic raisings, in imitation of precious stones, a species of