An Age Of Architects

The finest London architect of the first half of the 17th century was Inigo Jones (1573-1652), who spent a year and a half in Italy and became a convert to Palladian Renaissance architecture. His chefs-d 'œuvre include Banqueting House (1622; p105) in Whitehall and Queen's House (1635; p182) in Greenwich. Often overlooked is the much plainer church of St Paul's (Map pp72—3) in Covent Garden, which he designed in the 1630s to go with the new piazza and described as 'the handsomest barn in England'.

The greatest architect ever to leave his mark on London was Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723), responsible not just for his masterpiece and monument St Paul's Cathedral (1710; pi 09) but also for many of central London's finest churches. He oversaw the building of dozens of them, many replacing medieval churches lost in the Great Fire, as well as the Royal Hospital Chelsea (1692; p137) and the Old Royal Naval College (pi81), begun in 1694 at Greenwich. His neoclassical buildings and churches are taller, lighter and generally more graceful than their medieval predecessors.

Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736) was a pupil of Wren who worked with him on several churches before going on to design his own masterpieces. The restored Christ Church (1729; pi52) in Spitalfields and the 1731 St George's Bloomsbury (Map pp92-3; Bloomsbury Way WC1), as well as St Anne's, Limehouse (1725; pi 61) and St George-in-the-East (1726; p163) at Wapping, are among his finest works.

Another Wren protégé, James Gibb (1682-1754), was responsible for St Martin-in-the-Fields (1726; p85). The style of these two architects' buildings is usually defined as English baroque.

A few domestic buildings dating from before the 18th century still survive, among them the half-timbered 1611 Prince Henry's Room (Map pp72-3; 17 Fleet EC4) and several old pubs on Fleet St and along the Strand.

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