Villas in Britain

Villas in Britain

Chiswick House, London: the entrance front

Architect: Richard Boyle, Lord Burlington (1729), Photograph: Eric de Mare (c. 1960)
Copyright: Eric de Mare/RIBA Library Photographs Collection

The fashion for building Palladian villas in Britain began surprisingly early. In the first half of the 17th century, certain British architects, led by Inigo Jones, looked to the work of Andrea Palladio for guidance and inspiration.

Jones's Queen's House, Greenwich, is regarded as the first Palladian villa in Britain, and was followed by a number of similar-scaled houses.

However, it was in the early eighteenth century that the villa became popularised. With the Neo-Palladian revival, led by the likes of Colen Campbell and Lord Burlington, villas were erected throughout the country. Most, however, were in the south of England, not far from London.

This revived taste for Palladian architecture was encouraged by publications, notably 'Vitruvius Britannicus' and the new English editions of I Quattro Libri dell Architettura. The fashion for a Grand Tour also inspired architects and patrons. 

In this section:

See how these architects and patrons took direct inspiration from the works of Palladio to build villas in Britain, many producing close imitations:

Explore the outstanding legacy of Palladian villas in Britain through the RIBA British Architectural Library.