Sir Robert Walpole is said to have been Britain’s first prime minister, a fact that many people know. How many people know that he was also Britain’s first Palladiophiliac? The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating piece, “The Singular Style of England’s Houghton Hall,” by Sarah Medford, that argues in essence for the pleasures of sticking to one style. Eclecticism, she writes, is easier and cheaper these days, and is not without its own joys. But she takes us through Houghton Hall room by room (well, through five of its 106 lovely rooms), each with a photo that is sure to turn readers into instant Palladiophiles. Some of us haven’t the money or the patience to stick to anything in such a didactic manner, but after reading this essay we can at least aspire to be Palladiophiliaphiles. Or should that be Palladiophiliophiles? Either way, here is a delightful paragraph to wallow in, just to get you started:
Like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, Houghton is an increasingly rare reminder that unforgettable dwellings are often the result of singular focus. The eclecticism we embrace today may be more affordable, adaptable and ultimately easier to pull off, but it’s also a missed opportunity. Houghton’s current resident heir, the seventh Marquess of Cholmondeley (pronounced “Chumley”), understands that. He’s now restoring Walpole’s lime hedges and the brick ha-ha, a level-changing landscape feature that separates the lawn from parkland beyond.
Brick ha-ha! Ya gotta love it!