John Webb (architect)
|Died||24 October 1672
Butleigh Court, Butleigh, Somerset
He was born in Little Britain, Smithfield London and died in Butleigh in Somerset and became son-in-law and personal assistant to fellow architect and theatre designer Inigo Jones from 1628, having married Jones' niece Anne. Jones and Webb's joint credit Wilton House (near Salisbury, Wiltshire) with its distinctive Single and Double Cube rooms.
At the beginning of the English Civil War, Inigo Jones left London to attend the King at Oxford. He was later in Basing House and captured at the end of the siege and storm. John Webb stayed in London, having been appointed Deputy Surveyor by Inigo Jones. He acted as a spy for Charles I, probably out of zeal rather than by appointment, and sent the plans of London's Lines of Communication (new fortifications) together with the number and location of the newly-mounted guns.
Upon Jones' death in 1652, Webb inherited a substantial fortune as well as a library of drawings and designs, many of which dated back to Jones' influential travels to Italy.
In 1654 Webb designed the first classical portico on an English country house, at The Vyne in Hampshire. In the Corinthian style, this portico stamps this older house as Palladian, 50 years before the birth of Lord Burlington.
The two architects share a connection with Greenwich, London. Webb designed King Charles Court in 1662, which later formed the first part of Greenwich Hospital, a short distance from the Queen's House, Jones' masterpiece at the foot of Greenwich Park. Webb also went on to design the enlargement of the Queen's House in 1662.
Webb was also an amateur scholar. He collaborated with Inigo Jones and Walter Charleton to produce a book about Stonehenge. Ten years later, he published his own Vindication of Stone-henge Restored. 1669 saw the appearance of his An historical essay endeavoring a probability that the language of the Empire of China is the primitive language, the first treatise on the Chinese language in any European language. Having never visited China or mastered the language, he based his essay on the travelogues of the Jesuit missionaries.
Gallery of architectural works
- John Bold, page 2, John Webb: Architectural Theory and Practice in the Seventeenth Century, 1989, Oxford University Press
- "Webb, John (1611-1672)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- The National Trust's history of The Vyne