Appendix 1: The Classical Style

Public Classical Architecture in Norfolk Small Towns

Nationally from the seventeenth century inns were more likely to be built or re-faced in the classical style, and until the later eighteenth century they would often be the largest public place in a small town. This was found to be true at Norfolk, where examples include the Swan Hotel at Harleston (1725-30), a three-storey construction with an early Georgian frontage and a panelled assembly room; and the Black Boys inn at Aylsham market-place. This can be seen in the first thumbnail. Its balcony which faces out towards the market place suggesting that it also functioned as a place as a place for public addresses.

cromer_tn.gifA Georgian inn in the market place at Cromer. fisher_theatre_tn.gifThe Fisher Theatre in Thetford.

Other places of recreation in small towns were being up-dated or newly constructed in the Georgian form. For example there was an assembly room in East Dereham of 1756 which was described as a, commodius building (Gardiner, 1850, p138), and another at Swaffham. Swaffham, as one of the larger market towns, had a suitably impressive range of facilities, such as a Georgian assembly room, a theatre, billiards, bowling green, race course, and a classical market place.

In the eighteenth century, in contrast, many provincial civic buildings were still being constructed in the older baroque style. It was only later that classicism was more widely accepted for civic buildings. Then, perhaps because of this delay its use in these buildings actually continued beyond the usual span for the fashion.

Shop forms changed little in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and only their detailing reflected passing fashions. Below we can see how a typical shop front could be updated using simple Georgian components such as a fanlight above the door. Shop windows were glazed with small panes of glass because at this time glass size was blown, therefore restricting its size.

reepham1_tn.gifGeorgian shop front at Reepham reepham2_tn.gifGeorgian shop front at Reepham

More unusual public buildings which were built in the new style were the Lacons Maltings in Diss, demonstrating that even an an industrial construction could be endowed with Georgian proportions, and the 1630 Customs House at Cley, which was re-faced in 1729. The Customs House faces one of the main roads in Cley, while the adjoining passageway provides a through route to the coastal side. This grand building portrays the importance of its sea links by the use of a nautical frieze above the doorway.


Georgian Buildings in Small Towns

There were attempts in the eighteenth century to create uniform groups of domestic buildings- a few similar buildings placed in a row creates a terrace. These could be in many shapes and sizes- long or short, curved to form a crescent, or rectangular forming a square. While in larger towns terraces might be quite extensive, in the small towns it was more common to find units of two houses: It was actually cheaper to build in pairs than singly and in the more prospering towns of the survey there were examples of small groupings of houses, such as 51-55 Mere Street in Diss, and 8-12 High Street in Downham Market, or 'The Crescent' at Cromer.

burnham_tn.gifLime House, Burnham Market. This has an impressive doorway constructed of a pediment supported on two columns. It is an example of an impressive town residence in a central location fakenham_tn.gifFakenham market place. Note the number of Classical buildings. The house with the fanlight above the door was built for the Peckovers, an East Anglian banking family in 1757, and the building next door to it is probably the site of Fakenham's first bank of 1782


Andrea Palladio

Andrea Palladio was a Paduan architect whose designs were simple, and rational, and made correct use of the classical orders (see second thumbnail) and proportions based upon ancient Roman architecture. He became one of the most important architects of northern Italy in the sixteenth century, particularly through the individual style of his villas. Below we see one of his most famous villas, the Villa Rotunda, which was built for Mario Capra, a church dignitary. Palladio's villas have been copied in other countries, particularly England and the American colonies, in a manner known as Palladian.

rotunda_tn.gifVilla Rotunda (1566-7) on the outskirts of Vicenza, Italy. It is a two-storey villa on a hillside. Each elevation is the same, featuring a central pedimented porch.

Although architects in England such as Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) had used Palladian villas as models for architecture in the Seventeenth century, they had not been used in a pure enough form according to the Eighteenth century exponents of Palladianism. English Palladianism was centred around the Third Earl of Burlington (1694-1753), who was involved in the creation of Holkham Hall in Norfolk, begun in 1734, which is one of the finest examples of English Palladianism.

orders_tn.gif An order is an arrangement of columns which supported an entablature (originally the roof of an ancient temple). There were three Greek orders- the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. To these the Romans added the Tuscan and the Composite. The image shows, from left to right, the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian forms.

It was important to the exponents of Palladianism that these forms were used in as pure a form as possible. However, the orders were only really strictly observed in elite houses, where the owners could afford to keep up with fashions. In smaller towns classical elements might be used, but they would often be diluted with local styles.


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