Page 1

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A Report on

Stowe and the Classical Orders Submitted by

Priyanka Talreja Towards the degree of Master of Science in the Conservation of Historic Buildings At the University of Bath, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. Session 2013-14

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page no.

List of illustrations.......................................................................................................................3 1. Introduction to the classical orders 1.1. Origins.................................................................................................................................6 1.2. Structure of an order...........................................................................................................6 1.3. Doric Order..........................................................................................................................8 1.4. Ionic Order.........................................................................................................................10 1.5. Corinthian Order................................................................................................................12 1.6. Tuscan Order......................................................................................................................14 1.7. Composite Order................................................................................................................15 1.8. Embellishments at a glance................................................................................................16 2. Stowe and the classical orders 2.1. Background history.............................................................................................................17 2.2. The Corinthian Arch............................................................................................................18 2.3. The Temple of Venus...........................................................................................................22 Bibliography................................................................................................................................26

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List of Illustrations Serial No. Fig. 1: (Pg.6)

Fig. 2: (Pg.7)

Fig. 3: (Pg.8)

Fig. 4: (Pg.10)

Fig. 5: (Pg.12)

Fig. 6: (Pg.14)

Fig. 7: (Pg.15)

Fig. 8: (Pg.17)

Fig. 9: (Pg.18)

Title Of The Reference/Source of illustration Image/Sketch Evolution of Crowe, N. Evolution of the hut, after William Chambers. [Online] Nature the orders and the Idea of a Man-Made World, MIT Press. p. 123 - 152. Available from: [Accessed 3 December 2013]. The orders of Watkin, D., 2005. The orders of classical architecture. classical A History of Western Architecture. 4th ed. Lawrence King Publishing, pp. architecture. 27 Pattern Book Lever, J. And Harris, J. 1993. Doric Order From W. Chamber’s Treatise on Detail 1 : Civil architecture, 1759. Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture 800-1914 Doric Order Faber and Faber, London-Boston., pp. 114 Pattern Book Lever, J. And Harris, J. 1993. Ionic Order From W. Chamber’s Treatise on Detail 1 : Civil architecture, 1759. Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture 800-1914 Ionic Order Faber and Faber, London-Boston., pp. 115 Pattern Book Lever, J. And Harris, J. 1993. Corinthian Order From W. Chamber’s Detail 1 : Treatise on Civil architecture, 1759. Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Corinthian 800-1914 Faber and Faber, London-Boston., pp. 116 Order Pattern Book Lever, J. And Harris, J. 1993. Tuscan Order From W. Chamber’s Treatise Detail 1 : on Civil architecture, 1759. Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture 800Tuscan Order 1914 Faber and Faber, London-Boston., pp. 113 Pattern Book Lever, J. And Harris, J. 1993. Composite Order From W. Chamber’s Detail 1 : Treatise on Civil architecture, 1759. Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Composite 800-1914 Faber and Faber, London-Boston., pp. 117 Order Map of the Whistler, L. Gibbon, M., Clarke, G., 1974. Stowe: A Guide to the Gardens Stowe MCLVI. Country Life Ltd., for Stowe School. Gardens (with the two chosen buildings.) The 1. Cox, N., 2006. Stowe: The Corinthian Arch [Online] Corinthian Available from: Arch, Stowe : [Accessed 26 November 2013]. Elevation This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence. 2. English Heritage. Part 4 Buckinghamshire, Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2013].

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Fig. 10: (Pg.19)

Fig. 11: (Pg.19)

Fig. 12: (Pg.20)

Fig. 13: (Pg.21)

Fig. 14: (Pg.22)

The Corinthian Arch, Stowe : Plan

Seeley, B., 1788. Stowe: A Description of the House and Gardens [Online]. Poole: Internet Archive- Getty Research Institute, Available from: pp.7, [Accessed 26 November 2013].

The Corinthian Arch, Stowe: Images

1. Bennion, R., 2012. Stowe Landscape gardens (Corinthian Arch) [Online] Available from: 5 [Accessed 26 November 2013]. 2. Boffin P.C., 2007. Corinthian Arch 2. [Online] Available from: 2719715816/ [Accessed 26 November 2013]. The Summerson, J., 2004. The Corinthian order: entablature and base. The Corinthian Classical Language of Architecture.1980 ed. World of Art series, Thames Arch, Stowe : & Hudson Ltd, pp.125 Detail 1 (Enlarged Elevation) The Adam R., Brentnall, D., 1992. Classical Architecture: A Complete Corinthian Handbook. Viking, London. Arch, Stowe : Detail 2 (Architectural Elements) Temple of 1. J.H. B., 2009. Temple of Venus, Stowe Landscape Gardens, Venus, Buckinghamshire, England, UK, (HDR, Prime Lens) [Online] Stowe: Available from: Elevation [Accessed 26 November 2013]. 2. English Heritage. Part 4 Buckinghamshire, Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2013].

Fig. 15: (Pg.24)

Temple of Seeley, B., 1788. Stowe: A Description of the House and Gardens [Online]. Venus, Stowe Poole: Internet Archive- Getty Research Institute, Available from: : Plan pp.96, [Accessed 26 November 2013].

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Fig. 16: (Pg.24)

Fig. 17: (Pg.25)

Fig. 18: (Pg.25)

Villa Barbaro, Maser

Andrea Palladio, Villa Barbaro, Maser, 1570, Nymphaeum [Online]. Available from: 572/flashcards/700572/png/villa_plan1317162198412.png [Accessed 5 December 2013].

Temple of Venus, Stowe : Images

1. Dubris, 2010. Stowe- the Temple of Venus [Online] Available from: 9959/with/4269140275/ [Accessed 5 December 2013]. 2. Pettitt, M., 2010. Stowe Park, Buckinghamshire. [Online] Available from: with/4663943477/

Temple of Adam R., Brentnall, D., 1992. Classical Architecture: A Complete Venus, Stowe Handbook. Viking, London. : Detail 1 (Architectural Elements)

6 | 26 Case Study Report: Classical orders at Stowe, Buckinghamshire (National Trust) Field Visit (November 8, 2013)

1. Introduction to the Classical Order 1.1 Origins: For over 2500 years, the foundation of western architecture has rested upon elementary units of a system called the classical orders. Developed mostly for their temples by the ancient Greeks as a decorative system on the ancient building scheme of post and lintel architecture (Fig.1), they have very much stayed alive even in the modern times. It was because of their Etruscan roots and constructional and inventive brilliance that the Romans absorbed Greek architectural tradition and ensured its continuation through adaptations. ‘’They believed that no building could communicate anything unless the orders were involved in it. The orders were architecture’’. (pp.19)1

Fig.1: Evolution of the orders

The first documented version of these orders was described by Vitruvius, an architect in the era of Emperor Augustus (first quarter of 1st century AD), in a series of ten books called De Architectura. It was supposed that aesthetical and spatial harmony in architecture could be achieved if an acceptable rational system conforming to all elements of a building was applied.2

1.1 Structure of an order: An order can be described as a conjunction of various fundamental units comprising of the column and the appropriate superstructure called entablature. Each order is distinguished by its proportions, characteristic profiles and details which convey the requisite emotion and rhythm through the building. It is the decoration on the column cap which is the most identifiable part of an order. A column is further divided into a shaft, its base and its capital. 3 The entablature is commonly divided into the architrave, the frieze and the cornice. The Classical style of architecture consists of three basic orders or styles of arrangement of the columns and the superstructure unit: Doric, Ionic and the Corinthian (J. Summerson, 1879) 1

Summerson, J. (2004) Summerson, J. (2004) 3 Summerson, J. (2004) 2

7 | 26 The Romans were inspired from these orders of Greek temple architecture and manipulated them resulting in the elongation of the orders and lightening of the entablatures4. Eventually, new orders namely the Tuscan and Composite were derived, from Doric and Corinthian respectively.5

Fig.2: The orders of classical architecture.

As seen from Fig.2, the three principal divisions of an entablature (A) are the cornice(C), frieze(D) (an undivided band that shelves the cornice above and the architrave below) and architrave(E) (may or may not be divided into two or three fascia separated by a narrow moulding).6 The development of the classical orders over the centuries has established a refined proportional system. Traditionally, the parts of an order are measured in modules- a module being half the diameter of the column just above its moulded base.’’ The module is divided into thirty minutes. Sometimes the diameter itself is a module (sixty minutes)’’.7 All classical columns are broader at the base than the capital. The shafts swell a little towards the centre with the narrowest part of the shaft at the top and the widest at a height a third from the base following an observable fact called the entasis which accentuates the verticality of the column.


Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A.( 1951) Adam, R., Brentnall, D. (1992) 6 Summerson, J. (2004) 7 Summerson, J. (2004) 5

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Fig.3: Pattern Book Detail 1: Doric order

Evolution of the orders

Evolution of the orders

9 | 26 1.3 Doric Order: The oldest and the most conservative of all orders is the Doric order; the beginning for which was in the 7th century in mainland Greece. However, it was fully appreciated in the late 18th century. The Dorians created this simple order that was associated by Vitruvius to exemplify the masculine form- broad and heavy. The detail in Fig.3 illustrates how the frieze in the Doric order is decorated in a very specific way by means of triglyphys (literally: three marks) and metopes (spaces between the triglyphs, sometimes with low reliefs). These decorations have originated from the ends of beams of ancient wooden temples. ‘’There are twice as many mutules as triglyphs and twice as many triglyphs as columns8’’.The architrave for the Doric order is plain. The Greek Doric style is designed to be consistently faithful to its timber origins. The sculptural decoration here is restricted to individual projecting mouldings and spaces such as the ‘metope’, where no essential timber structure was present. A Doric capital is flared with a plain cushioned shaped detail called ‘echinus’ below a square shaped plate called ‘abacus’. The shaft of the column has fluting-a shallow vertical concave channelling derived either from timber grain or cuts from a metal tool used to trim logs. These flutes met together in a sharp edge called ‘arris’. The shaft of the column doesn’t not have a transitional moulding where it comes in contact with the floor and as Normand puts it, the Greek Doric order never became so slender as to require a base to the columns9 The columns in Parthenon in Athens, a model example of Greek Doric style, is 5.5 diameters high and entablature 2 diameters high .The architrave and frieze are an almost equal height with cornice 0.5 diameters high.10 The height of a Roman Doric column was eight times diameter. 11 It has an attic base consisting of two tori separated by scotia and fillet. Also, small tooth like projections called dentils in the cornice and mutules are concealed under the corona in the entablature.


Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A., (1951) Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A., (1951) 10 Adam, R., Brentnall, D. (1992) 11 Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) 9

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Fig.4: Pattern Book Detail 1: Ionic order Evolution of the orders

Evolution of the orders

11 | 26 1.4 Ionic order: About mid-6th century BC, an elegant order called the ‘Ionic’ was born in Asia Minor. It stood for feminine slenderness and was taller and thinner according to Vitruvius. The arrangement of the Ionic order (Fig. 4) consisted of an architrave at the bottom of a shallow entablature with the absence of a frieze. The architrave was made up of overlapping sections imitating overlapping boards. The teeth like projections in cornice (dentils) were made to represent exposed ends of closely spaced beams. The distinguishing feature of the Ionic order is the presence of dentils in the cornice and two spiral curves or scroll like ‘volutes’.12 These coiled ends of an element, were associated with female hair and the column thought to have derived from proportions of a female figure. Above the volute is a very shallow abacus band with a moulded edge called an ‘ovolo’.13 The flutes on the shaft have been reduced in number from 40 in Doric columns to 24. The grooves became more circular with vertical bands called ‘fillet’ in between. Through this order was the column base first introduced in classical vocabulary for merely an ornamental effect. The base of the Ionic order consisted of two or more swollen discs called torus separated by concave scotia mouldings. (Fig.4) From Greek republican until the Renaissance period, the general rule for an Ionic column height has been 8 to 9 diameters. The entablature is one quarter of column height. This order has a less strong entasis than the Doric order.14 The Greek Ionic order constitutes a two part entablature with a bed moulding but no frieze. The Roman Ionic is moderately ornate and demonstrates the persistence of cyma, dentils and ovolo in bed moulding, as well as the return of the frieze.15 The Ionic order, however, was a less favoured order to use entirely in a building as it lacked the Doric simplicity and the Corinthian versatility.


Summerson, J. (2004) Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) 14 Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) 15 Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) 13

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Fig.5: Pattern Book Detail 1: Corinthian

order Evolution of the orders

Evolution of the orders

13 | 26 1.5 Corinthian order: An Athenian invention of the 5th cent B.C., the Corinthian order was employed as an order from 16th cent onwards. The Corinthian order imitates the slight figure of a girl. It has a three tiered capital with a stylized Mediterranean plant called the acanthus leaf unfurled and gathered around a vase shaped core. This concepts epitomises Summerson’s comment that ‘’the orders were regarded to embody all the ancient wisdom of mankind in the building art-almost, in fact, as products of nature itself. ’’ 16 As seen in Fig. 5, a modelled abacus above the capital curves inwards on all four sides and is separated by the shaft with a small ‘astragal’ moulding. Basically, it is an Ionic column with a shaft and an Ionic attic base- lengthened to 9.25-10.5 diameters by substituting the cap with tall Corinthian capital.17 The entablature is about 2.33 times the diameter- almost similar to the ionic entablature. A Corinthian frieze is either plain or with uninterrupted decoration. Dentils like brackets in the cornice were carved in the shape of a scroll called ’modillion’ which supports projecting mouldings above. The Greek Corinthian features included the revival of the bed mould and the retainment of the frieze. This order was constantly used in conjunction with the other orders as the Greeks had hardly acknowledged its identity as a separate order. The Roman Corinthian capitals have rather more intricate foliage than the Greek and acanthus leaves are broader and less spiky 18. An addition of the modillion band was a supplementary attribute. The height of a Roman Corinthian column was ten times diameter. 19

Hence, the three basic orders stand for Nikolaus Pevsner’s statement that ‘‘A style is not an aggregate of features but an integral whole.’’


Summerson, J. (2004) Adam, R., Brentnall, D. (1992.). 18 Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) 19 Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) 17

14 | 26 1.6 Tuscan order: The Renaissance architects regarded the Tuscan order as the most primal and hence the ‘lowest of the orders’20. It was derived from an ancient type of Etruscan temple of primitive character with wide spaces between columns. The 16th century theorists considered it to be proto-Doric (a simplified Roman Doric) and crudest and most massive of the five orders. The Tuscan base is circular and resembles a Roman Doric style with only a torus and fillet but no fluting on the shaft. As per Vitruvius, it has a column height of 7 diameters. Fig.6 illustrates the typical details of the Tuscan entablature and column from an archetypal pattern book of architectural details. The Tuscan was deemed practical and aesthetic for the needs of villas since carts and farm implements came into use.21 However, no Tuscan order was formalized in Roman Imperial architecture.(ibid)

Fig.6: Pattern Book Detail 1: Tuscan order Evolution of the orders

20 21

Arcades of the Villa Badoer. (Abeville Press) Palladio, A., (1676) Quattro Libri

Evolution of the orders

15 | 26 1.7 Composite order: Most elaborate of the five orders, the Composite order was first identified by Alberti (c. 1450) and first figured by Serlio as the fifth order. Literally, it was a collection of elements already in use as parts of one or other older orders. 22 The Composite order merge together the Corinthian foliate bell and Ionic volutes. Generally, the column height for the Composite column is 10 times the diameter. The capital is one diameter highwith three levels consisting of 2 rows of acanthus leaves, egg and dart moulding and ionic scrolled volutes. (Fig.7) The column base of this order, like the Corinthian, is attic.23 The Composite order is the only wholly Roman order suggesting glory of the Roman state by using an order not directly derived from a conquered nation.24 Fig.7: Pattern Book Detail 1: Composite order Evolution of the orders


Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) 24 Adam, R., Brentnall, D. (1992.) 23

Evolution of the orders

16 | 26 1.8 The Embellishments at a glance: The classical orders incorporated in them characteristic decorations in the entablature. These consisted of moulding forms with their typical ornament. The table25 below lists a simplified description of these embellishments (in alphabetical order).

MOULDING Astragal Bed Moulding Cavetto Corona Cyma recta

Cyma reversa Dentils Echinus/ovolo:

Fascia Fillet Guttae Metope Modillion Mutule Taenia Triglyph Scotia Torus/tori

SHAPE/ DESCRIPTION ORNAMENT Small, circular moulding. bead and reel Between corona and frieze: Dentil band with principal moulded members above and below it. Hollow moulding in the form of a quarter of a circle. Part of the cornice –a deep plain band projection over bed moulding. Double curvature moulding :upper-concave, lotus and palmette, scrolls of convex below foliage: laurel leaves, honeysuckle Double curvature moulding :upper- convex, concave below Small closely spaced tooth like blocks in cornice. Between abacus (square plate) and capital: egg and tongue single curvature moulding with circular section. Plain band on the architrave. Narrow strip separating larger curved mouldings. Small conical pieces on architrave (Doric order) representing wooden pegs Space between triglyphs. bukrania, trophies A diminutive scrolled bracket/console on Corinthian/Composite order. Square block on the soffit of the corona (Doric order). Narrow projecting band between architrave and frieze (Doric order) Between mutule and Guttae: two sunk vertical channels and two half channels at edges. Hollow moulding between tori in base. Semicircular profile, at base.

The decorations aiding the classical formulae, the orders were put into play with a wonderful combination of antiquarian learning and artistic invention. 26 Eventually as Summerson puts it, Western architectural design flourished with not just five orders to choose from but eight: The Five Roman orders established by Serlio and the original Three Greek orders which could be extracted from James Stuart and Nicholas Revett who created measured drawings of Greek buildings.

25 26

Lever, J. and Harris, J. (1993) Summerson, J. (2004)

17 | 26 2. Stowe and the classical orders 2.1 Background History In the 15th century, the Renaissance style of architecture was born in Italy and expanded through countries part of the Western Roman Empire. It included utilization of Classical Roman Orders which lay dormant for nearly a thousand years. Consequently, these orders- Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite were standardised by Renaissance architects such as Palladio, Vignola, and Scamozzi, and used both rationally and decoratively.27 (pp. 981) Fig.8: Map of the Stowe Gardens After Palladio’s controlled classicism, an antiquarian movement began commencing 1750 (Greek revival).This style-NeoClassicism- was on one hand romantic and articulate, and on the other hand archaeological. In the Late Renaissance (Georgian period) of mid 18th century, Stowe landscape gardens “the finest seat in England” was laid out as a geometrically patterned garden. It consisted of three formal terraces in a stepped slope with low retaining walls and orchards to the south.28 ‘These idealized landscapes were intended not just to look pretty but were dedicated to moods and evocation of mythological scenes and moral statements’.29 The monuments in the landscape gardens represent a fascinating blend of the classical orders in a new style, literally Neo-Classical. Stowe was designed in a series of different phases30 with varying concepts by different architects over time. Demolitions and re-building was a part of this change. The new gardens have a charismatic organic form as opposed to the strict formality of the geometry of the old design, and hence the various monuments on the Stowe site co-exist in synchronization with each other. 27

Fletcher, B., Cruickshank, D.(1996) Elliott, J., Harney, M. (2012) 29 Robertson, J. M. (1990.) 30 Tatter, J.D. [Online] 28

18 | 26 2.2 The Corinthian Arch The following two structures in the discussion of the classical orders, form part of two major vistas of the idyllic landscape at the Stowe Landscape Gardens. (Fig.8)

Fig.9: The Corinthian Arch, Stowe: Elevation

The Corinthian Arch, a picturesque point de vue to the Lake Pavilions and the south face of the Stowe House, is a ceremonial gateway that once formed the main entrance to the complex31. This Evolution the orders 60’ high and 60’ wide tripartite arch was designed by ThomasofPitt, Lord Camelford in 1764-5 and 32 finished in 1767. The adjacent flanking columns were added by 1780.33 (Fig: 9) Fig.10:

The Corinthian Arch, Stowe: Plan


Tatter, J.D. [Online] Elliott, J., Harney, M.(2012) 33 Elliott, J., Harney, M. (2012) 32

Evolution of the orders

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Fig.11: The Corinthian Arch, Stowe: Worm’s eye view, Side view in perspective. Evolution of the orders

From the plan it is evident that the arch sides are made up of a four storey structure with an internal staircase, while the doors and windows are visible from the side faces. (Fig: 10) Evolution of the orders

Externally, the arch echoes a Neo-classical style structure with typical elements of a high pedestal, the central arch with engaged Corinthian pilasters on the two abutments, an ornate entablature and a balustrade at the top. At the crown, the flat roof of the arch has a low parapet wall to give protection and additional decorative enrichment in the form of a ‘swag’ motif.34At the centre, there is a balustrade consisting of skittle like miniature column balusters in the Renaissance style as per Normand’s Parallel of the Orders of Architecture. Below the balustrade is the entablature whose depth is exactly such that the column, with its pedestal, fills the space between the entablature and ground in a dense yet pleasant arrangement fulfilling its symbolic function. Fig. 12 shows a detail of the mouldings seen on the entablature which are typical of Roman Corinthian Order including modillions and dentils in the cornice and a three stepped architrave. The entablature moves with the column edges as it is a rule that every time an order changes its plane of relief, the entablature has to move too.35 The arch in this structure, as seen, may be related to a Palladian ratio of 1:1.65 with an archivolt and a keystone. The archivolt arises from a plain impost moulding of the pier at the springing line (Fig 13: impost) The impost of the arch, a version of the Doric capital, strikes the columns a little above half their height and the arch sits at ease between the columns and the architrave above. The decorated keystone of the arch, with simple striated mouldings, is hard up against the bottom of the entablature. The soffit of the arched ceiling is coffered with floral embellishments. The Corinthian Arch consists of a modified ‘giant/colossal order’-one which raises itself from a base and ascends two or more storeys. Since the respond to the column is a pilaster, it is a Roman Order as per Normand (pp.14.). 34 35

Swag indicates a festoon or garlands tied with ribbons and draped from two supports. Summerson, J. (2004)

20 | 26 The engaged columns extend from a high pedestal and are square towards the Stowe School Side while they are circular towards the Entrance from the boundary. These columns have allowed for decoration of the plain walls as also a prospect to apply orders in any kind of structure. The column capitals appear to be inspired from the Renaissance style as seen from versions of Serlio and Alberti in Normand’s Parallel of the Orders of Architecture, albeit with dentils in the entablature. They have two rows of acanthus leaves on the vase like capital. From the static and pronounced appearance of the columns, the intercolumniation is understood to be Pycnostyle, i.e. when the column shafts are spaced one and a half column diameters apart.

Fig.12: The Corinthian Arch, Stowe: Detail 1

(Enlarged Elevation)

21 | 26 Like triumphal arches built by the Romans had an extensive use of the Corinthian order36, similarly this conquering masterpiece in the Stowe gallery of historical landscapes is a Corinthian Arch which frames a magnificent vista- ‘perhaps the most beautiful, in the strict sense, of eighteenth century English garden art’37.

Fig.13: The

Corinthian Arch, Stowe: Detail 2 (Architectural Elements)

36 37

Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) Bevington, M.

22 | 26 2.3 The Temple of Venus The second monument is the Temple of Venus; Renaissance architect William Kent’s first building at Stowe. Located across the Eleven Acre Lake (Fig. 8), this temple was designed in 1732 along Charles Bridgeman’s revolutionary ha-ha 38 boundary on the south western side of the Stowe bastion.39 Prima facie, it looks like a miniature Palladian Villa built out of Helmdon limestone.40 The plan of this temple (Fig. 15) is semicircular with a larger central block at the apex and two flanking pavilions at the end points. The central focal structure is one and half storeyed and made up of three important parts- namely a portico on the ground storey, an apsidal recess on the upper storey and a shallow pitch classical pediment on the gable top. Looking at the structure top down (Fig. 14), the pediment is simple and devoid of any decorative elements like ‘mutules’ on either the raking or the horizontal cornice. Below it, the half dome with a coffered ceiling is added as a feature to provide a focal point within the bulk of the piers. (Fig. 18) On the ground storey underneath the central apse is the semicircular ionic portico with two full and two half ionic unfluted columns along its diameter. Since Ionic columns represent elegance, it is apt that they were used in this Temple of Venus-known as the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Fertility. As per Normand, the arrangement of the portico is associated with Greek temple order with respect to the column respond; it appears to be Distyle in antis, i.e. with two columns standing in front of the cell set between the antae terminating the projecting cell walls/ half columns.41 The columns are observed to be Roman Ionic with a plain frieze and mutules, inspired from the Renaissance period if compared with Scamozzi’s Ionic order plate in Normand’s Parallel of the Orders of Architecture. The column capitals have decorated volutes, a band of egg and dart design with a bead-dot astragal band. The shaft of the columns is plain with tiers of stone while the bases have double tori resting on a square plate. This further rests on a low stylobate of two small steps. Ahead of the columns is a door frame- an aedicule framed by a plain architrave, a bulbous/pulvinated frieze and a triangular pediment. (Fig: 18) This is flanked by horse shoe niches on side curves (as well as on external piers) containing sculptural busts. The door frame leads to an interior room called cella which contained the statue of Venus. The rear side of the central structure (Fig: 17) of the Temple of Venus is a curious face with blocks of vermiculated rustication on the raking as well as the horizontal cornice. The quoin and the arch stones on the upper storey stand out because of the chamfered dressing. The lower storey has a central pedimented door frame like the front, and it is flanked by two arched openings with windows (Venetian). There are two low steps attached to the door in an offset. The facade is plain coursed except for two string courses that jut out at the plinth and the upper floor level and a course along the arch impost line.


The ha-ha originated in France in the C17 Whistler, L., Gibbon, M., Clarke, G. (1974) 40 Elliott, J., Harney, M. (2012) 41 Curl (1992) 39

23 | 26

Fig.14: Temple of Venus, Stowe: Elevation Evolution of the orders

Evolution of the orders

Fig.15: Temple of Venus, Stowe: Plan

Fig.16: Villa Barbaro, Maser

Evolution of the orders

Evolution of the orders

Evolution of the orders

Evolution of the orders

24 | 26

Fig.18: Temple of

Venus, Stowe: Detail 1 (Architectural Elements)

Fig.17: Temple of Venus, Stowe: Rear facade; Front portico

25 | 26 The main block has been linked to the two pavilions with Simple quadrant wings in the form of ‘Renaissance’ arcades42. (Fig. 14) These are essentially a smaller version of Andrea Palladio’s style to create open character country villas: an integrated composition of structures on a large estate43.(Fig.16)The columns on the arcade look like heavy and efficient rectangular blocks and cheap to build. They have a plain impost moulding from which a semicircular arch springs. A low entablature over it is topped with ball finials on the cornice. These roundels are double in number as that of the columns on the arcade. The end pavilions of the Temple of Venus are square in plan with rusticated facades on the exterior of the masonry. Built to have rough textural joints deliberately, it is an attempt to create an additional effect of monumentality. The gable fronts of the end pavilions have a gap in the entablature below the apex, thus creating an ‘open pediment’. William Kent’s original domes to this structure had collapsed between1827-28 and were replaced with pitched lead roofs. Its niches originally included murals by Venetian painter Francesco Sleter, of which only a single hand and part of the branch of a tree stay on. 44 Now, it consists of a Pump house below that may have pumped water for the “Guglio” (an obelisk) in the Octagon Lake. The Temple of Venus exudes a feeling of beauty in classical wilderness as expressed by the Cobham Family motto ‘Templa Quam Dilecta’ (How delightful are thy temples!45) To end this essay, a warm acknowledgement to author John Summerson through his quote would be a perfect way‘’The classical language of the orders are not merely pinned onto the structure but integrated with it. Sometimes they sink right into it; sometimes they come walking out of it. And all the time they control it.’’


Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A. (1951) Arcades of the Villa Badoer. (Abeville Press)


44 45

Bevington, M. Whistler, L., Gibbon, M., Clarke, G. (1974.)

26 | 26 Bibliography Books 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Adam, R., Brentnall, D., 1992. Classical Architecture: A Complete Handbook. Viking, London. Bevington, M., Stowe: The People and Place. The National Trust, p 77. Elliott, J., Harney, M., 2012.Visit To Stowe Landscape Garden .Revised. Fletcher, B., Cruickshank, D., 1996. Sir Banister Fletcher's a History of Architecture. Architectural Press. Hussey, C., 1967.English Gardens and Landscapes 1700 – 1750.Country Life Lever, J. and Harris, J. 1993. Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture 800-1914 Faber and Faber, London-Boston., pp. 113-117 Normand, C., Cordingley, R.A., 1951. Normand’s Parallel of the Orders of Architecture- Greek, Roman and Renaissance. 6th ed., Alec Tiranti Ltd. Palladio, A., 1676. Quattro Libri (The first book of architecture) Pevsner, N. and Williamson, E. 1994. Buckinghamshire: Buildings of England, 2nd ed. Penguin Books Robertson, D.S, 2004. Greek and Roman Architecture, 2nd ed. Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge pp. 37-39 Robertson, J. M., 1990. Temples of Delight: Stowe Landscape Gardens. National Trust: ISBN 0 85372 7333. Summerson, J., 2004.The Classical Language of Architecture.1980 ed. World of Art series, Thames & Hudson Ltd The National Trust, Stowe Landscape Gardens. Watkin, D., 2005. A History of Western Architecture. 4th ed. Lawrence King Publishing, pp. 25-28 Whistler, L. Gibbon, M., Clarke, G., 1974. Stowe: A Guide to the Gardens MCLVI. Country Life Ltd., for Stowe School.

Internet references: 1. Curl, 1992. Portico [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2013]. 2. English Heritage .Part 4 Buckinghamshire, Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2013]. 3. English Heritage .Part 4 Buckinghamshire, Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England [Online].Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2013]. 4. Seeley, B., 1788. Stowe: A Description of the House and Gardens [Online]. Poole: Internet ArchiveGetty Research Institute, Available from:[Accessed 26 November 2013]. 5. Arcades of the Villa Badoer. Abeville Press [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 3 December 2013]. 6. Tatter, J.D., Birmingham, Southern College [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 26 November 2013] 7. Zucker, S., Harris, B. The Classical Orders: A conversation with Dr. Steven Zucker & Dr. Beth Harris [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 2 December 2013].

UoB 1 History and Theory A  

Stowe and the Classical Orders

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