Elizabethan architecture is the term given to early Renaissance architecture in England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Historically, the period corresponds to the Cinquecento in Italy, the Early Renaissance in France, and the Plateresque style in Spain. Stylistically, it followed Tudor architecture and was succeeded in the 17th century largely by its stylistic extension, Jacobean architecture and to a limited degree by Palladian architecture, introduced in a handful of prominent commissions within court circles by Inigo Jones.
Renaissance architecture arrived in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, having first spread through the Low countries where among other features it acquired versions of the Dutch gable, and Flemish strapwork in geometric designs. Both of these features can be seen on the towers of Wollaton Hall and again at Montacute House. It was also at this time that English houses adopted the concept of a long gallery being the chief reception room. In England, the Renaissance tended to manifest itself in large, square, and tall houses such as Longleat House. Often these buildings had asymmetrical towers, hinting at the evolution from medieval fortified architecture.
Hatfield House, built in its entirety by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, between 1607 and 1611, is a perfect example of the transition period from the gabled turreted style of the previous era. One can clearly see the turreted Tudor-style wings at each end with their mullioned windows, however, the whole is achieving a symmetry and the two wings are linked by an Italianate Renaissance facade. This central facade, originally an open loggia, has been attributed to Inigo Jones himself, however, the central porch carries a heavier Jacobean influence than Jones would have used, so the attribution is probably false. Inside the house, the elaborately carved staircase demonstrates the Italian renaissance impression on English ornament.
During the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, many Italian artists arrived in England and carried out various decorative features at Hampton Court, Layer Marney Tower, Essex (1522–1525), Sutton Place, Surrey (1529), Nonsuch Palace, and elsewhere. Later in the century, Flemish craftsmen succeeded the Italians; the Royal Exchange in London (1566–1570) is one of the first important buildings designed by Henri de Paschen, an architect from Antwerp.
Places showing the style introduced by Flemish workmen:
- Condover Hall (Shropshire)
- Wollaton Hall
- Hatfield House
- Blickling Hall
- Audley End
- Charterhouse (London)
- Danny House
- Longleat House
Surveyors (architects) active in this period
- Robert Adams (1540–1595)
- William Arnold (fl. 1595–1637)
- Simon Basil (fl. 1590–1615)
- Robert Lyminge (fl. 1607–1628)
- Robert Smythson (1535–1614)
- John Thorpe or Thorp (c.1565–1655?; fl.1570–1618)
- Cropplestone (1963), p. 262
- Cropplestone, Trewin (1963), World Architecture, Hamlyn
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elizabethan buildings.|
- Shaw, Henry (1839). Details of Elizabethan architecture. London: William Pickering – plates of architectural details