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Inigo Jones (1573-1652)
Designer of the first Italian-style buildings in England*

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Known for

Inigo Jones, 1573-1652.
View full size imageInigo Jones, 1573-1652. © NMM
His significant contribution to architecture in Britain, most notably the Banqueting House at Whitehall, and the Queen's House, Greenwich.

Jones spent time in Italy studying the art, architecture, and philosophy of the ancients. He introduced to England, the classical language of architecture, characterised by the harmony, detail, and proportion inherent in such design.

In addition to his innovative architectural schemes, Inigo Jones was also a designer of masques, (highly elaborate performances of music, dance, poetry and song), painter, antiquarian, and connoisseur.  These attributes assured his place at the Courts of James I (1603-1625) and Charles I (1625-1649), and various commissions from private patrons.

Jones was a fine draughtsman, and many of his drawings survive at Oxford, the Royal Instutute of British Architects, and the Devonshire family's collection.

Port Connection

The Queen's House.
View full size imageInigo Jones' Queen's House. © NMM
Jone's was architect of the Queen's House in Greenwich. The Queen's House is the first purely classical building in England, designed for Anne of Denmark, wife of James I. It was begun in 1617 as two blocks, divided by the old Greenwich to Woolwich road.

Queen Anne of Denmark, 1574 - 1619
View full size imageAnne of Denmark, wife of James I. © NMM
From just before Anne's death in 1619 the house remained unfinished and thatched over at ground-floor level until 1629.

Inigo Jones then completed it by about 1635 for Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I. He added a single first-floor central bridge joining the two halves, over the road. It was richly decorated with paintings and sculpture.

Interesting Facts

Inigo Jones.
View full size imageInigo Jones. © NMM
Jones was staying at Basing House (Hants) in 1645 when it came under siege by Cromwell's troops, and was burnt.  A news-sheet of the time reports that the famous Innico Jones lost all his clothes, and was carried away in nothing more than a blanket.

Jones returned to London - perhaps as a prisoner - and his property was sequestrated.  Jones pleas for leniency to the Committee for Compounding, but a pardon was only forthcoming in 1646, and his estate restored.

Life Story

1573Born in the parish of St Bartholomew’s, Smithfield. The only son of a clothmaker.
c. 1590sVisits Italy to study drawing and art.
1603Mentioned in the household accounts of the Earl of Rutland, as a picture maker.
1608Designs the New Exchange in the Strand, London, for Robert Cecil.
1611Appointed Surveyor to Prince Henry (the heir apparent).
1612The office of Surveyor ends suddenly with the death of Prince Henry from typhoid.
1613Travels around Europe, mainly studying Roman and Renaissance architecture in Italy, and referring to Palladio’s treatise: 'Quattro libiri dele’ architecttura'.
1615James I appoints Jones as Surveyor of the King’s Works, the highest position in the profession of building. Jones holds this office for the next 27 years.
1615-16Anne of Denmark (wife of James I) commissions Jones to design the Queen’s House at Greenwich. Work is also carried out at Newmarket Palace and Oatlands, a Tudor palace in Surrey.
1618Queen Anne’s illness and subsequent death impedes any further progress on the Queen’s House.
1623A Warrant to build the Queen’s Chapel at St. James’s Palace becomes Jones’ first ecclesiastical building. It is completed in 1627.
1625On the death of James I, Jones designs an elaborate hearse.
1625-39During this period, Jones is predominately occupied with work on Somerset House. Henrietta Maria (wife of Charles I) commissions the Queen’s Chapel in 1630.
c. 1630Work recommences on the Queen’s House at Greenwich, and is structurally completed in 1635. Henrietta Maria becomes the first Royal resident.
1642The onset of the Civil War marks the end of Court life for Jones, and he leaves London temporarily.
1652Inigo Jones dies at Somerset House in London, a building designated under the Protectorate for high officials and Members of Parliament. He is buried in his parents’s grave at St Benet’s, Paul’s Wharf, London.

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