Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Stuart: rare but relevant

Above: Houses showing the transition from timber framed to brick (c1614)

 Above: Classically styled terrace, attributed to Inigo Jones (c1641)

 Above: How builders copied the new classical style in bare brick (1658)
 Above: The oldest speculative buildings by Nicholas Barbon, in Crane Court off Fleet Street (c1670)
  Above: A prime example of the new style: Dr Johnson’s house, near Fleet Street built c.1700

Typical period houses from the Stuart period (1603-1714) are rare but relevant. During the Stuart period classical styles were first applied to typical houses and the brick built terrace replaced traditional forms of construction such as timber framed. Speculative builders began to supply the demand for urban houses in these new styles. The new style was flat fronted, brick, with sash windows.

The new developments were led by the outstanding Stuart architects, Inigo Jones and later, Christopher Wren. When the Edwardians rediscovered classical style they derived their forms from the Stuart period more than the later Georgian. The leading Edwardian architects called the Stuart period the English Renaissance, Edwin Lutyens referred to it as the ‘Wrenaissance’. Jones’ designs had the most influence on typical houses. In 1631 he designed the first brick built classical terrace for the Duke of Bedford’s development of Covent Garden. Only drawings of his terraces have survived. It was an example of really significant design because  speculative builders like Nicholas Barbon, were able to copy them.  Speculative builders would build the vast majority of Typical period houses. Speculative building was building in advance of demand, for rent.

 One of the earliest surviving classical terraces (c. 1641), in Lincoln’s Inn fields, is attributed to Inigo Jones. The oldest surviving brick-built terraced houses in London, on Newington Green (1658) show how the speculative builder made cheaper copies of features such as pilasters and capitals using bare brick. Speculators such as Nicholas Barbon and Thomas Neale turned the disaster of The Great Fire of London into an opportunity. The Fire destroyed  14,000 buildings (80% of the houses in the City of London). The Building Acts which followed specified that new houses should be built in brick or stone for the better preventing mischiefs that may happen by fire’. Successive Acts followed. The 1707 & 1709 Acts were passed during the reign of Queen Anne ( 1702-1714; as the daughter of James II, she, too, was a Stuart).
 Speculators like Barbon and Neale were pretty unscrupulous but they had to build in brick. Barbon built between the City and Westminster, around Fleet Street.  Neale built Neale Street , Neale’s Yard (Covent Garden) and Seven Dials. Above the colourful shops some of his speculative buildings still survive.
 My next post will describe Barbon’s houses in more detail.

No comments:

Post a Comment