The first Palladiophiliac

OD-BC720_HOUSE__DV_20140617155915Sir 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!

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture History, Art and design and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.