Lost and hidden villas

Lost and hidden villas

Wilton House, Wilton, seat of Thomas Earl of Pembroke: elevation of the garden front with plans of the first and second story

Architects: Inigo Jones and Isaac de Caus (1635-40). Engraving from: Colen Campbell. 'Vitruvius Britannicus', (London, 1717), vol. II, p. 61-62
Copyright: RIBA Library Drawings Collection

Palladian villa design spread across Britain from the early 17th century onwards. Many of the villas were based on buildings by Palladio himself and adhered closely to his plans. Several were heavily influenced by the Villa Rotonda.

However, some aspects of villa design were hidden amongst far bigger schemes, most notably large country houses such as Wilton House and Holkham Hall.

Other buildings such as Fonthill Splendens have been lost entirely, demolished years ago.

The grandeur of Neo-Palladian ambition can also be seen in designs that were never built, such as those for the third design for Wanstead House.

It was a powerful movement, and aspects of Palladian villa design also pervaded buildings which might not be strictly considered “villas”.

These can be found absorbed into the dense fabric of cities, as is the case of Horse Guards and Cumberland Terrace in central London.

The delights of villa design live on in some unexpected places.