Tudor Renaissance

Tudor Renaissance

Tudor Renaissance

Tudor Renaissance

Excerpt

"When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire, shall burn
The living record of your memory."

SHAKESPEARE: Sonnet 98

NEVERTHELESS, what wasteful war has so far spared us in works of masonry, the social and economic broils consequent upon "Mars his sword" proceed apace to root out. Of the three hundred or so greatest English country houses still in private occupation in 1939, I calculate that today less than a third, perhaps just a quarter, are inhabited by the families of their former possessors. Their fate, and indeed that of the remainder (now mostly depleted of their furniture and works of art), can easily be foreseen, unless drastic measures are immediately taken to stave it off--by the Government. Thus we are faced with the absurd paradox that only the instrument of these monuments' destruction can now be turned to their salvation.

It is a fact that a study of England's Early Renaissance is to be made rather from its country houses, now on the brink of annihilation, than its churches, which were largely the product of the Middle Ages. The Tudor age of building has, it is true, been covered comprehensively by two eminent scholars, the late Sir Reginald Blomfield and Mr. J. A. Gotch, notably in the former's "History of Renaissance Architecture in England" (1897) and the latter's "Early Renaissance Architecture of England" (1901). These two pioneer books must always remain the basis of any future works constructed around this broad theme. The purpose of my "Tudor Renaissance" is to give rather more emphasis to the various foreign sources of the neo-classical style so slowly and painfully adopted by this country over a long period, which actually outlasted the reign of Elizabeth. At least I can claim that all the buildings mentioned in my text have been visited and observed by me at different times, always with affection and usually with profit. It is my intention to deal in a subsequent volume with the more developed classicism of Inigo Jones, which will, I believe, be the fulfilment of this book's thesis.

I wish to thank several friends, particularly the following: Miss Margaret Jourdain for her wise advice which led me to recast my whole thesis, greatly to its advantage; Mr. John Summerson for his customary generosity in putting at my disposal several invaluable fruits of his profound scholarship; Mr. Harry Batsford and Mr. Samuel Carr for their constant encouragement and patience; and Miss Mary Kearney for her unfailing skill and accuracy in transcribing for me so much of the text.

J. L-M.

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