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Jacobethan is the style designation coined in 1933 by John Betjeman to describe the English Revival style made popular from the 1830s, which derived most of its inspiration and its repertory from the English Renaissance (1550 - 1625), with elements of Elizabethan and Jacobean.

As architectural term

Its main characteristics are flattened, cusped "Tudor" arches, lighter stone trim around windows and doors, carved brick detailing, steep roof gables, often terra-cotta brickwork, balustrades and parapets, pillars supporting porches and high chimneys as in the Elizabethan style. Examples of this style are Mentmoremarker in Buckinghamshire and Sandringham Housemarker in Norfolk, Englandmarker.

In June 1835, when the competition was announced for designs for new Houses of Parliamentmarker, the terms asked for designs either in the Gothic or the Elizabethan style. The seal was set on the Gothic Revival as a national style, even for the grandest projects on the largest scale; at the same time, the competition introduced the possibility of an Elizabethan revival. Of the ninety-seven designs submitted, six were in the Elizabethan style (Pevsner 477).

In 1838, with the Gothic revival was well under way in Britain, Joseph Nash, trained in A.W.N. Pugin's office designing Gothic details, struck out on his own with a lithographed album Architecture of the Middle Ages : Drawn from Nature and on Stone in 1838. Casting about for a follow-up, Nash extended the range of antiquarian interests forward in time with his next series of lithographs The Mansions of England in the Olden Time 1839 – 1849, which accurately illustrated Tudor and Jacobean great houses, interiors as well as exteriors, made lively with furnishings and peopled by inhabitants in ruffs and farthingales, the quintessence of "Merrie Olde England". A volume of text accompanied the fourth and last volume of plates in 1849, but it was Nash's picturesque illustrations that popularized the style and created a demand for the variations on the English Renaissance styles that was the essence of the newly-revived "Jacobethan" vocabulary.

Two young architects already providing Jacobethan buildings were (later Sirs) James Pennethorne and Anthony Salvin. Salvin's Jacobethan Harlaxton Manormarker, [23822], near Grantham, Lincolnshiremarker, its first sections completed in 1837, is the great example that defines the style.

The Jacobethan Revival survived the late 19th century and became a part of the commercial builder's repertory through the first 20 years of the 20th century. Apart from its origins in the UKmarker, the style became popular both in Canadamarker and throughout the United Statesmarker during those periods, for sturdy "baronial" dwellings in a free Renaissance style. A key exponent of the style was T.G. Jackson. Some examples can also be found in government buildings in Australia.

As literary term

More recently the term has proved useful to literary studies that are emphasizing the continuity of English literature in the half century 1575 – 1625. For example the 1603 death of Elizabeth I of England falls in the middle of Shakespeare's career as dramatist: he is both an Elizabethan and a Jacobean writer.

Further reading

  • Mowl, Tim, 1993. Elizabethan And Jacobean Style (Phaidon).
  • Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2nd ed. 1962, vol I, p 477

See also

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