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Historic Mansions of England page 2

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Later, in Charles II's reign, Sir John Brownlow built Bolton, in Lincolnshire, and Chief Justice Jones, Ramsbury, in Wiltshire-both are finely designed and wrought, typical of the style and retaining their original features. The windows had ceased to have structural mullions, were much higher han wide, were of one size and were set in regular rows. Many earlier houses were more or less brought into line with these ideas, such as Ham House, near Richmond, by the Duke of Lauderdale about 1675, and Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, by the Duke of Devonshire, who all through William Ill's reign was employing Talman to give a full Late-Renaissance flavour to Bess of Hardwick's Elizabethan house.

The style of this period is called that of Wren, but he was so fully engaged with churches and palaces, hospitals and colleges, that private houses were left to lesser men. Thus his pupil Nicholas Hawksmoor designed Easton Neston in Northamptonshire, but before the shell was completed in 1702 he had fallen under the influence of Vanbrugh, with whom he was first associated in 1699 in the designing and building of Castle Howard, and five years later at Blenheim. Vanbrugh was an original genius who boldly combined mass with movement, dramatic effect with dignified splendour. More submissive to classic correctness - to the rules of Vitruvius as interpreted by Palladio - was the group of architects who clustered round the fourth Earl of Burlington as the "Apollo of the Arts" under the first two Georges. Colin Campbell gave us Houghton, in Norfolk, and Mereworth, in Kent. Leoni built Moor Park and Clandon, in Hertfordshire and Surrey. Gibbs was concerned with Ditchley and Archer with Heythrop, both in Oxfordshire. Kent's hand was everywhere, but his biggest job was putting into shape the ideas of Thomas Coke, afterwards Earl of Leicester, for the huge pile of Holkham. Ware built Lord Chesterfield's house in Mayfair, and Flitcroft, with Burlington himself advising, gave to Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire its 600 ft. front.

Whilst stressing, for their exteriors especially, a "pure" classic manner free of all extravagances, these architects employed craftsmen who excelled in the baroque manner, such as the Italian stuccoists Artari and Bagutti. To such lapses from severity the French rococo was soon added, with strange excursions into what passed as Chinese and Gothic, which often affected the designs of chimney-pieces and other interior fittings as well as much of the furniture. But the English taste was, on the whole, reserved, it restrained the Gallican "abandon" of Louis XV's reign and welcomed the cold delicacy of the style that Robert Adam brought home with him from Italy in 1759.

He became the vogue, and was set to alter and complete various houses already begun, such as Harewood and Nostell in Yorkshire, and Kedleston in Derbyshire. He also altered such ancient structures as Syon and Osterley, in Middlesex. He built few complete houses and the finest example, Luton Hoo, in Bedfordshire, built for Lord Bute, long ago perished by fire; so that the best surviving example of a house entirely by him is the comparatively modest Mersham le Hatch, in Kent.

After 1772 Adam's ascendancy was challenged by James Wyatt's Pantheon in Oxford Street, which took the town by storm as a remarkable variation, if not improvement, of the manner of Adam. Wyatt was immediately employed for country houses, first by Sir Thomas Egerton to enlarge Heaton Park, now the property of the Corporation of Manchester, and later, at Heveningham, where he reconstructed and developed what Sir Robert Taylor had begun. Yet, while still employed on this classic work, he had plunged into the Gothic taste that Horace Walpole had rendered fashionable by his mock medievalism at Strawberry Hill. In this style Wyatt erected the enormous piles of Fonthill, in Wiltshire, and of Ashridge, in Hertfordshire, neither of which were complete when he died in 1813.

By that time current architecture, instead of exhibiting, as of old, a single style, had become a medley of old and new, native and exotic. On the one hand, the Greek influence produced the serious architecture of Sir John Soane, on the other, Eastern inspiration gave plaster domes and minarets to the Prince Regent's Brighton Pavilion.

The nineteenth century being one of prosperity, it produced a vast number of country seats, but although some have architectural character, it is to the earlier periods that we look alike with admiration and with love. By both art and history, cold stone and hard wood are warmed to life.

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