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Tag: 17th Century

Recording the Danby Gate (1632-33)

A measured drawing of the north elevation of the Danby Gate, Oxford Botanic Garden.
A measured drawing of the north elevation of the Danby Gate, Oxford Botanic Garden (1632-33). Image: Struan Bates.

On a recent trip to Oxford I passed the Danby Gate (1632-33), the historic entrance to Oxford Botanic Garden. The weather was considerably sunnier than the last time I visited, when I was measuring, sketching and photographing the gate for a survey.

A couple of memories stood out: firstly, in hindsight how probably mad I was to choose a building that required the drawing of such heavily rusticated and ornamented features. Secondly, and rather obviously, perhaps, but of considerable consequence when producing a printed record, was how much difference the availability of light makes when taking high-resolution photos.

Photos, heavily manipulated, of the norther elevation of the Danby Gate. Images: Struan Bates.

My final measured drawing of the north elevation of the gate is at the top of this article (this is the entrance side set back off the High Street opposite Magdalen College, though the actual visitor entrance is now through the wall to the left of the arch). After much rubbing out, I decided to take a less-is-more approach, lightly hatching the rustication on the pilasters and only tracing the outline of the statues of Charles I and Charles II in the left and right niches, and the bust of Henry Danvers, 1st Earl of Danby, who paid for the gate, in the pediment above.

The Danby Gate, south elevation. Image: Struan Bates.

The inscriptions on the pediment on both the north and south sides were similarly tricky to get right, particularly the serifs on the letters at such a reduced scale.

Survey equipment. The DISTO was variably accurate under fluctuating levels, with averages of multiple readings needing to be taken. Image: Struan Bates.

While not particularly complex in plan, the gate is not symmetrical or equally proportioned north and south of the wall. Neither are the internal and external fluted niches of equal size, requiring some nimble compass work.

Initial measured sketch of the Danby Gate plan. Image: Struan Bates.

This survey was the first time I had used a DISTO laser measure to record ceiling and roof heights. The accuracy of the tool appeared variable as the light fluctuated, though when the clouds came over this at least meant the laser point could be seen at the top of the pediment.

The eastern elevation of the gate bisected by the Botanic Garden wall, the side of the arch most difficult to record due to restricted space and light. A stone marking the place of the medieval Jewish Cemetery is to the right. Image: Struan Bates.

While not a novice in enhancing images, applying techniques to high-resolution photos taken on a very gloomy day was extremely time-consuming, with varying results. Particularly tricky was achieving consistency when increasing light levels and adding clarity to images showing both the whole of the gate and close-up details.

Holes for wooden posts, presumably created when adjacent structures were built. Image: Struan Bates.

The statues of the Stuart kings in Roman dress had recently underdone repair, but their elevated positions also made it hard to photographing smaller details. Even standing on a stool only resulted in grainy images when enhanced.

Statue of Charles I in the left niche, north elevation. This grainy, heavily magnified, image illustrates the difficulty of being unable to photograph features at eye level. Image: Struan Bates.

My survey also included research on the gate’s history. I had previously done some work on Nicholas Stone, who built the gate in 1632-33, together with the garden wall and a couple of smaller arches to the east and west, though only a potted history of Stone’s work was required for this project. Stone was also working on a house at Cornbury during the same period, using Headington stone provided by the Strong family of masons. To what extent work was simultaneously being co-ordinated between both sites is, for me, one of the most interesting outstanding questions.

History of the gate taken from the final report. Image: Struan Bates.

To some degree the Danby Gate suffers as a small historic building in a city with lots more larger and more visible ones. Its proximity to larger buildings and rather hidden location at the end of Oxford High Street both contribute to its diminished visibility.

The Danby Gate is however important as a complete surviving work by a leading figure in the development of classical architecture in the seventeenth century. For this reason, perhaps, its architectural significance deserves greater appreciation.

More on the Danby Gate

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Forty Hall (1629)

Forty Hall. Image: Struan Bates.

I suspect there’s a lot more to discover about Forty Hall. The 1629 date quoted for the house we see today appears too early; it has more in common with the angular, astylar boxes built after the Restoration. That said, there are earlier stylistic precedents (e.g. Coleshill , usually given a date of 1650).

Forty Hall was built for Nicholas Rainton, a former Mayor of London, who was imprisoned for refusing to help Charles I raise a loan, and who died in 1646 (interesting monument in St Andrew’s, Enfield – Nicholas Stone?) A lottery bid put together by the hall and English Heritage in 2008 suggested a ‘clever artisan builder’ probably designed the house, but no name is suggested. Little information can then be found about Forty’s architectural development between Rainton dying and the property leaving the family’s possession in 1696. I’ve not seen Peter Mills‘ name associated, but Forty immediately brings to mind Thorpe Hall … just a thought.

Forty has a fascinating interior, too; the photos below were taken on a flying visit, but give a good impression of it inside and out:

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.

Image: Struan Bates.
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The People’s Piazza: A History of Covent Garden (BBC)

I finally got round to watching The People’s Piazza: A History of Covent Garden on iPlayer. As with many of the best documentaries, the researchers had done a great job of finding people who had direct involvement with the subject at hand, including men and women who had worked in the market in the pre- and post-war periods. There was some great archive footage, and the framing of developments around historical figures worked well.

Inigo Jones’ St Paul’s church loomed large, though its architectural history wasn’t explored. It’s still surprising how Jones integrated the most ‘primitive’ Tuscan order with elegant surrounding townhouses, and in doing so delivering London’s first formal open space. Jones had seen the opportunity to employ the Tuscan’s earthy and robust dimensions in an ecclesiastical building after agreeing with the Earl of Bedford to deliver the ‘handsomest barn in England’. The huge east front pedimented portico of St Paul’s (sixty feet across), with its widely-spaced pair of large columns flanked by square pilasters, had no precedent in England, and the sight of a quasi-Tuscan temple would have been all the more dramatic for its urban setting. The church’s double-square interior displayed Jones’ preference for harmonic ratios, with symmetrical, tall, rounded-headed pairs of windows on the east and west facades complementing circular windows above the church’s ‘entrances’ (the east one is fake).

Flanking St Paul’s were a pair of arches, also Tuscan, with rusticated pilasters. These were positioned away from the church and joined by a wide, low wall, at a distance proportionate to the columnation of the church’s portico. The cumulative effect of their inclusion, visible in later etchings and paintings, again demonstrated Jones’ inclination for horizontality, but at Covent Garden going a step further to confidently bestow a residential skyline with the gravity of the Tuscan order.

No drawings in Jones’ hand survive for the the tall, narrow houses he designed for the north and east sides of Covent Garden, but later pictorial evidence shows that they were narrow, classical structures, with vaulted, rusticated, arcade walkways (‘piazzas’) spanning the terraces, with steep roofs and dormer windows. Summerson argued that the whole of Covent Garden was a ‘comprehensive essay in the Tuscan mood’, with Jones adapting a Serlio  design for his Covent Garden houses to deliver elegant continuity around three sides of the square. The effect is seen in later paintings: a band of red, upper-story brickwork runs around the square – smart, but subordinate to the bright, rusticated ashlar line leading the eye to its termination at the new, understated, Protestant, place of worship.

The point here isn’t to establish whether Jones’ unified application of the Tuscan order was faithful to antiquity, but more to recognise that what Jones had created was the first classical city square in England. Its influence was soon felt in surrounding streets, with Jones directing similar classical projects in Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Great Queen Street. Jones had arrived at his own urban vernacular, the forerunner of London street architecture. Crucially, these buildings and spaces would be experienced by the public, not just kings and courtiers.

At this point Jones still had what might have been the crowning glories of his Westminster Palace and St Paul’s cathedral developments on the horizon, though the former didn’t come to fruition and the latter was demolished. Whatever the aesthetic merit of Jones’ work on the west front of the cathedral, it’s Jones’ influence on secular architecture that was revolutionary, though his buildings alone may not have been enough to secure that legacy.

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Where was Prince Rupert’s House?

Re-post of an article originally for englishcivilwar.org:

A watercolour of Prince Rupert’s Palace in Beech Street, Barbican, from the garden (1796). © The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

I knew that after fleeing into exile in 1644 Prince Rupert had a naval career before returning to England after the Restoration, but was surprised to find that one of his private houses survived into the 19th century.

Or did it? This was meant to be a post about the building’s location and architecture, until I started digging a little deeper …

Biographies record that Rupert lived in Westminster and Windsor Castle after he returned to England in September 1660, though online sources (mostly from 18th and 19th century texts) mention him living in Beech Lane/Street (the name seems to fluctuate on maps from this time) near the Barbican. A number of surviving images, mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries, purport to show a three-storey, bay-windowed property, such as the watercolour above, variously titled ‘Prince Rupert’s Palace’ or ‘Prince Rupert’s House. This set me off comparing maps to find exactly where the house had stood (the Layers of London site is an excellent tool for this).

Having some idea of the rough location, I stopped to consider a wider set of written sources, looking more carefully through my Rupert biographies. This stopped me in my tracks. Neither Maurice Ashley, Frank Kitson or Charles Spencer mentions Beech Lane/Street, and none of their descriptions of Rupert’s arrival in London indicates where the prince initially resided.

I was leaning towards thinking that ‘Prince Rupert’s Palace’ (or Prince Rupert’s House) was actually a Victorian misattribution, when I found this reference from a 1910 book on mezzotints:

It was at Drury House, his ivy-grown gabled Elizabethan mansion, in quiet Beech Lane in the Barbican, off Aldersgate Street, that Prince Rupert received John Evelyn on March 13. 

Old English Mezzotints, Malcolm C. Salaman (1910)

It’s well-known that Rupert dabbled in mezzotint printmaking, but more useful is the reference to Evelyn’s diary; all would be confirmed if it linked Rupert directly to Beech Lane. As the complete diary text is freely available online, I searched for Rupert’s name. It appears five times, twice in 1661 with reference to him teaching Evelyn mezzotint (the other later entries are irrelevant), on 21st February and 13th March (as mentioned in the Salaman extract, above): 

21st February, 1661:
Prince Rupert first showed me how to grave in 
mezzo tinto.

13th March, 1661 (Evelyn visits Lambeth in the morning, which I have omitted here):
This afternoon, Prince Rupert showed me, with his own hands, the new way of graving, called mezzo tinto, which afterward, by his permission, I published in my History of Chalcography; this set so many artists on work, that they soon arrived to the perfection it is since come to, emulating the tenderest miniatures.

Our Society now gave in my relation of the Peak of Teneriffe, in the Great Canaries, to be added to more queries concerning divers natural things reported of that island.

I returned home with my Cousin, Tuke, now going for France, as sent by his Majesty to condole the death of that great Minister and politician, Count Mazarine.

But no mention of Beech Lane. However another later source which also mentions Evelyn’s visits to Rupert suggested another primary source (highlighted):

Beech Lane, Barbican, where Prince Rupert resided, and worked on his chemical experiments and his mezzotint plates, was probably so called, says Stow, from Nicholas de la Beech, Lieutenant of the Tower, who was deprived of his office by Edward III. Stow, whose clue we ever follow, describes the lane, in Elizabeth’s time, as stretching from Redcross Street to Whitecross Street, and adorned with ” beautiful houses of stone, brick, and timber.” An old house in Barbican belonging to the Abbot of Ramsay was afterwards called Drury House, from the worshipful owner, Sir Drew Drury, also of Drury Lane. This was the house Prince Rupert afterwards occupied; and parts of the mansion were in existence as late as 1796. Here lived the fiery prince, whom Time had softened into a rough old philosopher, fond of old soldiers, and somewhat of a butt at Whitehall among the scoffing Rochesters of his day, who were all à la mode de France. Here Evelyn visited Rupert. In the parish books of St. Giles’s, Cripplegate, a guinea is set down as payment to the ringers on the occasion of Charles II. visiting the prince at his Barbican house. In Strype’s time the street had lost its gentility, and was inhabited by clothes-salesmen, and on the site of the old watch-tower fronting Redcross Street, stood an ignoble watchhouse for the brawling Mohocks of the day.

Old and New London: Volume 2. Originally re-published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London (1878).

This source is interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it names the St Giles, Cripplegate, parish books as documenting a visit by Charles II to Rupert in Beech Lane. Conversely, it feeds my suspicions by suggesting that at the time Rupert was meant to have lived there, the street was part of an area that had declined in status since Tudor times (‘Strype’ is a reference to John Strype, the historian who published a detailed survey of London in 1720, so a good few decades later than the supposed royal visit). When Rupert returned to England in 1661 he was a divisive figure – surely he would been accommodated in crown property for his own safety, rather than in a declining street inhabited by traders?

Following-up the reference to the Charles II visit (and unable to access parish records from St Giles, Cripplegate, online) I found more useful references, though this time from the early 20th century. These extracts from John Badderley’s History of Cripplegate (1910) give the building a more specific location, but again cast doubt on the veracity of whether Rupert actually lived in Beech Lane. This first extract provides extra details on the house’s location:

On the south side of Beech Lane is the shadow of the residence of Prince Rupert, so memorable for his transactions in the reign of Charles I. About 1830 a handsome building (which stood until 1865, when a larger building was erected) was built by a Mr. William Bassingham, who had resided and carried on his business of a gas engineer here for several years before that time, being rated for his old house in 1820 at 12. This stood at the south-east corner of the south side of the lane (with a frontage in Whitecross Street), on the site of, or in close vicinity to, the spot where Prince Rupert’s house mentioned above was probably situated. Glovers’ Hall Court stands nearly 100 yards further westward, and in 1840 contained houses of a very poor character; a tenement, shed and stables were valued as little as 12. In 1850 the assessment on seven houses in the lane was 121, in which amount the above house (assessed at 60) was included. These old houses were soon after demolished, and three warehouses now standing on the south side erected, which run back to and are also lighted in Glovers’ Hall Court. (p.208)

While the second extract repeats the claim that Charles II visited Rupert at the same address and again mentions the St Giles records: 

The house of which an illustration is given (below) stood in Beech Lane, a street running between almost the northern end of Whitecross Street and Barbican. Particulars of Prince Rupert’s life in this house are given in the chapter devoted to ” Men of Note.” It was here that his cousin Charles II often visited him, and took part in his scientific experiments. An entry in the parish books of St. Giles records the payment of a guinea to the ringers of the church bells on the occasion of a visit of the King to Prince Rupert.  (p.208)

In the same book the ‘Men of Note’ chapter as referenced above repeats some of what we already know, but crucially differs from other sources in suggesting that Rupert was living at Beech Street not on arriving in England, but towards the end of his life (he lived another 22 years, dying in 1682):

In the house at the corner of Whitecross Street and Beech Lane, inhabited in the early part of the seventeenth century by Sir Dru Drurie, lived this brilliant Cavalier. As is well known he took a great part in the Civil War, and after the Restoration occupied many important public positions, the last being First Lord of the Admiralty in 1679. Little is known of the last years of his life; probably much of his time was taken up in the various scientific experiments he conducted in the above house. His cousin, King Charles II, shared his tastes and visited him at his laboratory, where he devoted much attention to improvements in war material, inventing a method of making gunpowder of ten times the ordinary strength, a mode of manufacturing hail-shot, a gun somewhat on the principle of the revolver, and a new method of boring cannon. He is said to have invented “Princes-metal,” a mixture of copper and zinc. He studied the art of engraving and engraved with his own hands. (p.293)

There’s lots to go on here, with a previous owner and Rupert’s involvement with what would become the Royal Society suggesting that more useful evidence might be found in archive sources. However there’s another revealing passage about Beech Lane which, while referencing the supposed home of another 17th century figure, reflects my own suspicions about ‘Prince Rupert’s House’ at this stage (of what admittedly has been a limited search). Badderley also goes on to say:

Upon an old water spout, there is the date 1653, which in all probability is that of its erection. It stood within a few yards of the site of the old mansion called Whittington’s College in Sweedon’s Passage, Grub Street. It has been stated that General Monk lived here, when planning the Restoration, but there is no proof of this. It may be that he occasionally occupied the house during that eventful time; at any rate, it was known as General Monk’s House for many years before its demolition.

This post was meant to pinpoint the exact location of the Beech Lane house and describe its architecture though surviving images, but the research above now has me doubting whether the building was occupied by Prince Rupert at all. Should I find better evidence to that effect I’ll write a ‘part two’ looking at the building and its location in more detail.

To be continued!

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The York House Water Gate (1626) Part One: History

Re-post of an article on the York House Water Gate I originally wrote for englishcivilwar.org:

The York House Water Gate, Embankment Gardens, London. Image: Struan Bates.

A 17th century Italianate arch lies 150 yards from the Thames, weather-worn and hidden between the office blocks. In its pomp a gateway for kings and courtiers, it marked the riverside entrance to one of Europe’s most sumptuous houses.

So how has it come to stand marooned in a park? And how did it survive the centuries?

York House was one of the great riverside mansions on the south side of the Strand, home to a succession of Keepers of the Great Seal, most famously Francis Bacon, who was born here in 1561. Bacon briefly returned to the property in adult life prior to his fall from grace, however George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, had long coveted the mansion and was instrumental in prising it from Bacon’s grasp. So strong was his attachment, however, that he would not give it up without a fight:

“York House is the house where my father died, and where I drew my first breath; and there I will yield my last breath, if it so please God and the King … At least no money, no value, shall make me part with it.”

Letter to the Duke of Lennox
John Norden’s 1593 map of Westminster. The pre-Watergate jetty at York House can be made out in the centre. The first section of the rambling Whitehall Palace to the left. The Strand is to the right.

York House finally passed into Buckingham’s possession in March 1622 as a condition of Bacon’s pardon. Each of the neighbouring Strand palaces (such as Somerset House and Durham House) had river entrances to facilitate easy passage between Whitehall, Greenwich and other properties along the Thames. His aesthetic vision for the property demanded a river entrance of equal majesty, and it was he who ordered the construction of York House’s last remnant visible today: the Watergate.

Buckingham, art and the Stuart court

At the time he took ownership Buckingham was the highest-ranking non-Royal in the country. The intimacy of his relationship with the king (James I) led to the 20 year-old being trusted as confident and advisor to James’ son and reluctant monarch-in-waiting, the 22 year-old Prince Charles.

Later in the year the two would travel incognito to Spain to conduct secret marriage negotiations for the hand of the Infanta Maria. This ill-fated trip may have been a political disaster, though Charles didn’t come away entirely empty-handed. Amongst the gifts presented by the Spanish was the monumental sculpture Samson Slaying a Philistine (1560-2), by Giambologna. The closeness of Charles’ friendship with Buckingham was reflected in his subsequent gesture: he gave the Giambologna to Buckingham as a gift, and it remained as a showpiece of his collection in the York House garden, reputedly the only piece on display not plucked from antiquity (a 1635 inventory revealed no fewer than 59 pieces of Roman sculpture there). The statue complemented the already formidable collection of paintings inside the house, including a large body of work by Rubens.

The south-facing pediment. The escallops (shell) motifs are taken from the Villiers coat-of-arms. Image: Struan Bates.

Buckingham’s military and political record might be strewn with failures, though his influence in kindling Charles’ ambition to become a leading patron and collector in his own right was far more successful. A few years later Rubens himself would deem Charles “the best amateur of painting of all the princes in the world” – an apprenticeship part-served in the corridors and river gardens of York House.

The Giambologna statue also survives. It’s now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the story of its sequence of owners – both before and after it was at York House – is a worthy diversion in itself. You can read more about it here.

The work of many hands?

In 1623 Buckingham set about commissioning a dramatic river-front entrance to his grounds. A striking Portland stone Water Gate in the style of Sebastian Serlio was ordered. Serlio’s volumes conveying his Italian Renaissance style were already in circulation in Italian, and had been studied by architects and designs such as Inigo Jones.

As Surveyor-General of the King’s Works Jones is often credited with being the first to bring the Italianate style to England. By the time the Water Gate was commissioned he had finished his work on the Banqueting House, and his hand was assumed in the design and construction of the Water Gate. He is, however, not the only only candidate.

The Danby Gateway at Oxford, built by Nicholas Stone 1632/33. Photo: Steve Cadman (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Since arriving in London in 1616 the designer and diplomat Sir Balthazar Gerbier had been acting as Buckingham’s art buyer and collection manager. He had also accompanied Buckingham and the king on the ill-fated trip to Spain. Gerbier’s letters to his patron in the Bodleian library document some of his involvement in the remodelling work of York House in the 1620s, and as such suggest that he may have been chosen for the commission.

The final name in the frame is Nicholas Stone. It was thought that the sculptor and architect was involved in the Water Gate’s construction using plans drawn up by either Jones or Gerbier, however comparisons of stylistic elements of other examples of Stone’s work (such as the Doric banded columns) have given greater weight to his claim as designer and builder. Stone had also studied Serlio and his rusticated style can be seen in the strikingly similar – though larger – Danby Gateway (above), one of the three entrances to the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens.

Until more conclusive evidence comes to light it appears that Stone has the best claim to the Water Gate’s initial design and construction, though either of the others – more probably Jones – had a hand in its refinement.

A more detailed examination of the Water Gate’s design – including a preparatory drawing attributed to Stone – can be read at the Sir John Soane Museum website, here.

The rear frieze features the Villier’s family motto FIDEI COTICULA CRUX (‘The Cross is the Test of Faith’). The anchor on the cartouche – and the lions on top – represent Buckingham’s admiralship. Image: Struan Bates.


Completion, the English Civil War and its aftermath

The Gate was completed in 1626, though Buckingham would enjoy it for only two years. In 1628 he was murdered in Portsmouth by a veteran of one of his disastrous naval escapades, angry at being passed over for promotion.

The house was passed between family members and tenants until after the Civil War. In 1644 parliament ordered the seizure of the property and its possessions. The “superstitious” art collection was to be taken and burned but was saved by the Earl of Northumberland – the tenant at the time – who stepped in and saved the majority of the work, claiming it would affect the future value of the property (though more likely was interested in securing the pick of Buckingham’s collection for himself).

In 1649 Cromwell conferred York House on Thomas Fairfax as recognition for his services during the Civil War. Buckingham’s heir, George, the second Duke, had been living in exile with Charles II but returned in 1657. He married Fairfax’s daughter, Mary, and was granted permission to live with her, thus returning York House to Villiers ownership.

The Restoration would not, however, bring back the property’s glory days. Buckingham’s debts were growing unmanageable and in 1672 he sold the estate to developers for £30,000.

His one condition was that the streets surrounding the land would be named in his honour.

Looking through the balustrades across Embankment Gardens towards the Thames. Image: Struan Bates.

Development and land reclamation
By 1674 the estate was already being carved up by developers, with York House demolished in 1675. The work of generations of Lord Keepers and the First Duke of Buckingham was undone in a little over a year.

At the same time the streets to the rear of the Water Gate (which exist to this day) were laid out, with the first of the new buildings following soon after. Seeing an obvious commercial opportunity for supplying water to the properties a group of investors established the York Buildings Waterworks Company. An obelisk-shaped water tower was built adjacent to the Water Gate – a landmark conspicuous in many 18th and early-19th century paintings of the north bank. The late-17th century land agreements also stated that a terrace walk be laid behind the new buildings to allow access to the Water Gate for those wishing to walk by the Thames.

The floor stone commemorating the 1898 and 1962 repairs by London Country Council. Image: Struan Bates.

The river would lap at the steps of the Water Gate until 1862. In that year the engineer Joseph Bazalgette was commissioned to construct the Thames Embankment. The reclamation of 22 acres of marshy land for real estate would leave the Water Gate where it is today: marooned 150 yards from the water’s edge.

In 1874 the Embankment Gardens were created as a public space, though responsibility for maintaining the Water Gate was unclear, and by 1880 it had fallen into a sorry state. London County Council stepped in in 1893 to protect the Gate, carrying out general repair work and re-roofing in 1898.
The roof was again replaced in 1962, with some masonry restored. The Gardens – with its Water Gate and other pieces of public art – are now looked after by the City of Westminster.

The plaque on a bank to the left of the arch attributes the Water Gate’s
building to Nicholas Stone alone. Image: Struan Bates.


The Water Gate today

The Gate is locked and protected by a low fence, but the area around it is surprisingly accessible. Watergate Walk (separating the Gate from the steps to Buckingham Street) runs directly behind and allows close-up viewing of the Gate’s interior. Tables and chairs from Gordon’s Wine Bar, a popular venue for post-work drink, sit in its shadow.

Though weathered, the Water Gate seems in a fair state of repair given its age. The main visitors to the gardens on weekdays are office workers eating their sandwiches. I doubt the Water Gate features on too many tourist trails given the detour required from more popular attractions like Trafalgar Square through the busy area behind Charing Cross station. Coaches drop off on the Embankment itself, and some groups may use the pathway through the gardens as a cut-through to the Strand and Covent Garden. As the Water Gate is set back beneath the trees it’s also not immediately visible from the Embankment, and as such is pretty much hidden from passers-by.

A shame, as with the Banqueting House a short walk away it’s one of the few surviving reminders of London’s 17th century Italianate court architecture.

The position of the Water Gate on the Embankment. The steps lead up to the arch, obscured by trees. Note the names of the surrounding streets. View larger map

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Sketch of Blickling Hall (1619)

I found an old sketch I did of Blickling Hall (1619) on a trip to Norfolk, where I also wrote an article about it and visited nearby Felbrigg Hall (1620).

Blickling Hall, built in 1619-20 by Robert Lyminge, who was also responsible for Hatfield House.

Both houses claim to be designed by Robert Lyminge, though Lyminge‘s claim to Felbrigg appears to apply largely to the Jacobean entrance front, as much of the rest was altered in the 18th and 19th centuries. Lyminge’s involvement with Blickling is greater documented, and he was buried in the churchyard there in 1628.

Also particularly memorable from that trip to Blickling was the rather creepy pyramid mausoleum built for the Hobart family in 1793. I didn’t have time to sketch that – but you can read about it here.

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