The Villas

Queen's House, Greenwich

 

Preliminary design for the north front of the Queen's House, Greenwich, London

Preliminary design for the north front of the Queen's House, Greenwich, London Enlarge image

Preliminary design for the north front of the Queen's House, Greenwich, London
Jones, Inigo (1573-1652)
RIBA Library Drawings Collection

Queen's House, Greenwich, London: the south front

Queen's House, Greenwich, London: the south front Enlarge image

Queen's House, Greenwich, London: the south front
Colen Campbell. Vitruvius Britannicus (London, 1717), vol. I, p. 1

The seeds of Palladianism in Britain were sown by Inigo Jones as early as 1616, as can be seen in this sketch design for the Queen's house in Greenwich. Jones was initially asked by Queen Anne of Denmark, the wife of James I, to design the house, but ultimately it was completed for her future daughter-in-law, King Charles I's Queen, Henrietta Maria.

It is an early example of Jones's architectural work and was a challenging commission on a complicated site straddling a public road.

In this drawing, Jones proposes a classical structure of two floors of approximately equal height. It is clear that Jones absorbed many of Palladio's ideas by using a rusticated basement, a piano nobile and a recessed portico. However, no particular building by Palladio is known to have been his source.

The rich treatment of the façade in the 1616 design is very different to the one that was built. The actual building is shown in the published design in Colen Campbell's later book 'Vitruvius Britannicus', shown here on the right. By the 1630s, when the house was completed, Jones had developed confidence as an architect. Inspired by the works of Palladio and Scamozzi, but not dependent on them, he produced this calmer, more refined elevation.

Jones's design remained influential, and was much used by the Neo-Palladians. Nearly a hundred years after he produced it, for example, the portico was copied by Henry Flitcroft for Lord Burlington. Flitcroft made a number of slight alterations to Jones's 1616 design, most importantly changing the recessed portico to become an applied order.

Flitcroft's drawing became influential too: it was apparently copied by Colen Campbell for Lord Pembroke's House in Whitehall (finished 1724), and was also used as a source for Roger Morris's Marble Hill (c.1724-30).