John Webb

The Vyne, Sherborne St John the north portico

RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Copyright: Eric de Mare / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Born in London in 1611, John Webb was fortunate to study under the brilliant Inigo Jones.

From Jones he received a thorough education in the styles and techniques of classical architecture based on the work of Serlio, Palladio and Scamozzi.

It was also through Jones that he would meet his wife: Webb married Jones's niece, Anne. Through this connection, and as Jones's favoured pupil, he eventually inherited Jones's large collection of Palladio's drawings.

During his early career, Webb assisted Jones as a draughtsman on projects, such as the Banqueting House at Whitehall and Wilton House.

After Jones's death in 1652, Webb took on several significant commissions as an independent architect, evolving his mentor's style. These included:

  • The Vyne, Hampshire (1654), for which Webb designed the first portico on an English country house.
  • Chevening House, Kent (1655).
  • Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire (1655-68)
  • Greenwich Palace, The King Charles II Block (1664-1669)

After a successful career, Webb died in 1672. Despite a significant number of high-profile buildings, his reputation was soon overshadowed by his master's.

Nevertheless, Webb's contribution to English Palladianism was great. Many of his buildings were attributed to Jones, and were later championed by the eighteenth-century Neo–Palladians. Moreover, his drawings, now in the collections of the RIBA British Architectural Library, reveal his creative powers, his ambition and his ability to satisfy his patrons.