By about 1509, that is, the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII, Gothic architecture was decadent in England. The conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 gave impetus to a movement known as the Renaissance. The Renaissance, a French term which literally means a " new birth," was the name given to a " grand " revival of the arts and literature of the Classical period which was taking place in most of Europe. Men devoted far more time than formerly • they had done to classical studies and what they read influenced their whole conception of art.
The Tudor style is best regarded as a transitional style in which classical Italian details are added to buildings which are Gothic in form. It is unfortunate that designs were so mixed in character at this time, as a marked the feature of the period was building, often in red brick, of magnificent country houses.
Three artistic developments in domestic architecture are worthy of notice. The oriel window, lofty and glowing with heraldic glass, becomes in the hall of a large house an important and stately feature ; curved gables after the Flemish fashion grow popular in England, and a very picturesque effect is obtained by the skilful grouping and artistic decoration of chimneys.
Elizabethan, and a later development of it known as Jacobean, missed both the beautiful fitness of the Gothic and the simple purity of the Classical. They belonged to neither style, although pointed gables were common features.
Gateway Hampton Court
HENRY VII’S CHAPEL. WESTMINSTER ABBEY, LONDON
This Chapel, which is well-preserved example of Perpendicular Gothic, dates from the beginning of the sixteenth century.
Whitehall Palace, the first building in England in which the Gothic form was entirely abandoned, was commenced during the reign of James I, 1603-1625. Its architect, Inigo Jones, who had studied in Italy, gained for the Renaissance or Italian style a complete victory over the Gothic. Thence on, for more than two centuries, classical columns and temple facades become characteristic features in church and public architecture. The pointed style was regarded as barbarous and called, in contempt, Gothic.
In the Renaissance style classical Orders (see pages 6 and 7) are freely used. When there are more than two storeys the Orders are varied, as in Roman buildings. Arches are invariably round. Windows are without mullions and transoms ; generally square-headed, and sometimes surmounted by entablatures and pediments. Classical mouldings, festoons of flowers, draperies, and the skulls of oxen are used for ornamentation.
The financial difficulties of Charles I made it impossible to complete the design of Inigo Jones for Whitehall Palace. During the Civil War and the Commonwealth there was little building of importance done in England.
The reign of Charles II, 1660-1685, witnessed the activities of Sir Christopher Wren, under whom Renaissance architecture in England reached its highest level. The Fire of London afforded ample opportunities for the display of his talents. He built St. Paul's Cathedral, the finest example of the Renaissance or Italian style in England, and fifty other churches.
Wren is sometimes accused of being careless of details, but most authorities admit that St. Paul's, as does most of his work, shows a fine sense of proportion and compares very favourably with St. Peter's, Rome, and, indeed, with any Renaissance building on the Continent. His work, also, at St. Mary-le-Bow, London, proves that it is possible to gain by purely classical means the grace of a Gothic steeple.
Towards the end of the Stuart period many beautiful domestic buildings arose in what is called the Queen Anne style, which was a development of Jacobean.
The Banqueting House, Whitehall Palace
Owing to the financial difficulties of the Early Stuarts it was possible to build only a small portion of the magnificent place designed by Inigo Jones. The part completed shows how greatly Inigo Jones was influenced by the work of the famous Italian Renaissance architect, Palladio.