JONES, Inigo (1573-1652), of Scotland Yard, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

16 Feb. 1621

Family and Education

bap. 19 July 1573, o.s. of Inigo Jones of St. Benet Paul’s Wharf, London, clothworker. educ. ?appr. joiner; travelled abroad (Italy) c.1600; ?embassy, Denmark 1603. unm. suc. fa. 1597.1 bur. 26 June 1652.2 sig. Inigo Jones.

Offices Held

Surveyor of works, Prince Henry’s Household 1611-12,3 surveyor, King’s Works 1615-43,4 Queen’s Works from 1631,5 St. Paul’s cathedral, 1633-1642;6 commr. fraudulent timber imports, 1638.7

Commr. new buildings, London 1618-at least 1640,8 L. Inn Fields, Mdx. from 1618,9 sewers, Mdx. 1619, 1627, 1637-8,10 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral, from 1620;11 freeman, Southampton, Hants 1623;12 commr. annoyances, Mdx. 1624-5,13 oyer and terminer, the Verge 1626-at least 1639, Mdx. 1638,14 abuses at Windsor Castle, Berks. 1629;15 j.p. Mdx. 1630-at least 1640, Westminster 1630-at least 1640;16 commr. brickmakers’ abuses, London 1638, bricklayers 1638.17

Biography

Though hailed as ‘immortal’ by the eighteenth-century Neo-Palladian movement which promoted him as England’s greatest architect, Jones remains an elusive figure, with key elements of his life and career based on hearsay and stylistic analysis.18 Baptized in July 1573 at St. Bartholomew-the-Less, in London’s Smithfield, he received his father’s distinctive Christian name, in origin a Spanish version of Ignatius, though the family are presumed to have been of Welsh stock. Inigo senior may then already have been a servant of Millicent Herendon, a London Mercer’s widow, who in 1581 bequeathed him the relatively large sum of £20. Though a clothworker by trade, he seems not to have been made free of the Clothworkers’ Company, and in 1589 he was in financial difficulties through non-payment of money owed to him.19 Jones himself probably showed artistic leanings early on, as he did not follow his father’s profession. According to Sir Christopher Wren†, he was apprenticed to a joiner near St. Paul’s cathedral; certainly he was familiar at the start of his architectural career with the trade’s terminology for moulded ornament, and Ben Jonson alluded in one of his attacks on him to such a training.20 At some point, however, Jones made the transition from craftsman to ‘picture maker’, since in June 1603 he received £10 in the latter capacity from the 5th earl of Rutland. By then he had also spent time abroad. Two tracts written by his pupil John Webb, but based on Jones’s own notes, state that he passed several years in Italy, particularly in Venice, studying ‘the arts of design’. He may have acquired his copy of Palladio’s I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura in the city around 1601. Certainly he was known as a ‘great traveller’ by 1606, and had experience of Italy prior to his well-documented visit in 1613-14. Webb further claims that for a while Jones was in the service of Christian IV of Denmark, by which route he subsequently entered the employment in England of Christian’s sister Anne of Denmark. Webb’s detailed account does not fit with the known facts, but Jones possibly accompanied Rutland on his 1603 embassy to Denmark, while around late 1604 he was certainly commissioned by Anne to design a masque, the capacity in which he first made his name.21

The queen’s ‘Masque of Blackness’, performed on Twelfth Night, 1605, initiated both his famous theatrical partnership with Ben Jonson and the programme of stylistic innovations which characterized Jones’s career at Court. The ‘Masque’, which cost around £2,000, imitated the lavish spectacles of the courts of Mantua and Florence, and included illusions such as a giant shell floating on billowing waves. In the following year Jones began to experiment both with perspective in his stage sets, and with the ‘flying’ machines for which he achieved a particular reputation. Although some of his early masque designs, such as those for Prince Henry’s ‘Oberon’ in 1611, included English Gothic details, from the outset both his scenery and his costumes drew primarily on Italian Renaissance examples like the figurative engravings of Marcantonio Raimondi.22 Jones continued to create masques for the queen until 1611, but by May 1608 he had also attracted the patronage of the 1st earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), who employed his skills when he entertained the king at Salisbury House. Around the same time the earl commissioned perhaps the first of Jones’s serious architectural essays, an unexecuted project for the New Exchange in the Strand.23 In the summer of 1609, after carrying letters to Paris for Salisbury, he almost certainly toured Provence, possibly in company with the earl’s heir, Lord Cranborne (William Cecil*). If so, the Roman remains which Jones studied at Nîmes, Arles and Orange probably inspired the classical ruins which he included in his next major masque, ‘Prince Henry’s Barriers’ of January 1610.24 In the following month Salisbury paid him for architectural drawings most likely related to the entrance façade and clock-tower of Hatfield House, though Jones cannot have done more than modify existing plans there. As a practising architect, therefore, he had to his credit only a funerary monument at Norton-in-Hales, Shropshire when, perhaps through Salisbury’s influence, he was appointed surveyor of Prince Henry’s works in January 1611.25

In the event, Jones’s first surveyorship was primarily an administrative position, since almost all the prince’s building-work was conducted by the king’s surveyor, Simon Basil. Jones may have been involved in internal changes to St. James’s Palace, and certainly prepared estimates for work related to the new gardens at Richmond in conjunction with the French hydraulics expert, Salomon de Caus. However, few of Henry’s projects were actually executed, and Jones’s principal challenge was rather the need to contain the attempts by another foreign specialist, Costantino de’ Servi, to supplant him in the prince’s estimation.

Henry’s premature death in November 1612 was not a major blow to Jones’s career. He was already working on two masques to celebrate Princess Elizabeth’s marriage to the Elector Palatine. These productions, at least one of which prominently featured architectural designs, were performed in February 1613 and were well received. Two months later Jones was granted the reversion of the surveyorship of the King’s Works.26 Given his limited experience of actual building projects, this might seem surprising. Indeed, his designs around 1608 for the New Exchange and a replacement ‘spire’ for St. Paul’s cathedral, for all that they largely rejected English traditions in favour of Italian prototypes by Palladio, Serlio and Antonio da Sangallo the younger, revealed a substantially two-dimensional and decorative approach to composition. However, analysis of the annotations in his architectural textbooks indicates that by about 1613 Jones had progressed significantly beyond that level, absorbing the classical systems of proportion and ornament laid down by Palladio and Vitruvius, and starting to develop his own stylistic preferences.27 In terms purely of classical theory, he was now outstripping his English rivals, and this expertise, combined with his reputation as a connoisseur of painting and his knowledge of Italian language and topography explain the invitation he received to accompany the art-loving earl of Arundel, a leading figure in Prince Henry’s circle, on his tour of Italy in 1613-14. Jones’s itinerary embraced Rome and its environs, Naples, Florence, Vicenza with its many examples of Palladio’s work, and Venice, where he met Palladio’s pupil Scamozzi. Jones devoted much of his time to a renewed study of Italian art, and his subsequent draughtsmanship was more visibly Italian in technique. However, he also systematically visited both ancient and modern buildings illustrated in Palladio’s Quattro Libri, testing his printed sources against the original structures and adding his own, sometimes critical, observations. This growing self-confidence, combined with increasing admiration for antique rather than contemporary architectural models, represented a decisive stage in Jones’s emergence as a theorist and designer.28 On his return to England he continued his association with Arundel, who employed him to make alterations to his house at Greenwich in April 1615, but in September that year Simon Basil died, and Jones succeeded him as royal surveyor.29

Jones’s burgeoning independence as an architect was manifested in all his major early projects for the Crown. The Queen’s House at Greenwich (1616-19, completed to a modified design 1630-5), the Banqueting House, Whitehall (1619-22) and the Prince’s Lodgings at Newmarket, Suffolk (1619-21) were all derived from Italian models, but reshaped to match their individual circumstances and Jones’s own priorities in design. His preference for buildings being externally ‘solid, proportionable according to the rules, masculine and unaffected’ produced in the façades of the Queen’s House an harmonious but severe simplicity unprecedented in England. The Banqueting House, as the showpiece of the king’s main palace, required a different treatment, and Jones, already sensitive to the handling of ornament, devised a magnificent tightly balanced composition bursting with contrasted planes, textures and, originally, colours. Again in keeping with his fundamental precepts, unity between interior and exterior was achieved by the use of tiered columns and pilasters inside and out. For the Prince’s Lodgings Jones relied on a carefully calculated play of vertical and horizontal elements to knit together his design, virtually dispensing with overt use of the classical Orders in a manner prophetic of his later works. His growing sophistication by the mid-1620s is witnessed by the Queen’s Chapel, St. James’s Palace (1623-7). Here Jones borrowed from the façade of the Prince’s Lodgings, adjusting the proportions and ornament to present a greater monumentality, while the interior, which echoed the ‘double cube’ hall of the Banqueting House, was rendered less static than in the earlier building by the use of a coved ceiling and subtler lighting.30

Important as such projects were, however, they represented only one strand of Jones’s responsibilities as surveyor. He was also expected to deal with rather more mundane tasks such as the repair of park walls at Theobalds, Hertfordshire and Hampton Court Palace, and maintenance of the water supply to the royal houses. Work relating to the precincts of the Crown’s property, such as repair of the prison at St. Albans, Hertfordshire in 1619 or the construction of a private jetty on the Thames near Westminster in 1636 also required his attention.31 Other distractions from the serious business of design included preparation of James I’s chapel furniture for transportation to Scotland in 1616, and inspection of the roads between London and Southampton ahead of the Spanish Infanta’s anticipated arrival in 1623. During the 1630s he was also a reasonably conscientious magistrate, periodically reporting on grain shortages or administering oaths.32

One by-product of his role as surveyor which probably gave Jones satisfaction was policing the regulations on new buildings in and around London. By the late 1610s the emphasis in James’s Proclamations on this subject had shifted from prevention of overcrowding and reduction of the risk of fire, to active encouragement of uniform streets and regular brick façades. Named in 1618 as a commissioner for new buildings, Jones almost immediately drew up a plan to lay out walks in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, though the scheme was apparently not implemented.33 By 1629, inspections of new or suspect projects, particularly in the districts west of the City, along with inquiries into the working practices of the London building trades, were a regular part of his routine.34 In the same year he was drawn into the 4th earl of Bedford’s scheme for building on his land north of the Strand, as a condition of the project’s approval. The development of the Covent Garden site allowed Jones to lay out London’s first square, the centrepiece of which was the country’s first full-scale classical church. This ‘piazza’, which was recognized at the time as emulating examples in Paris and Leghorn, served in effect as Jones’s manifesto for the proper performance of the capital’s building regulations. The church’s portico, an unparalleled archaeological reconstruction of the Tuscan Order, perhaps represented his views on achieving a modern simplicity appropriate to Protestant worship.35 A further experiment in ecclesiastical design commenced two years later when Jones was appointed surveyor for the restoration of St. Paul’s cathedral, a project again seen as enhancing the capital’s image and, indirectly, that of the Crown, which contributed heavily to the work. Here, in addition to restoring the Gothic choir, Jones completely refaced the Romanesque nave and transepts in a novel and strikingly plain classical manner, and at the west end erected another architectural showpiece, a vast Corinthian portico.36

The burdens of the surveyorship and the related responsibilities in London meant that Jones had little opportunity for private commissions. Predictably he was approached to carry out alterations at New Hall, Essex for the royal favourite Buckingham in 1622, and in the previous year he designed a gateway at Beaufort House, Chelsea for the new lord treasurer, Lionel Cranfield*, whom he had known socially since at least 1611. Charles I is said to have recommended Jones to the 4th earl of Pembroke (Sir Philip Herbert*) for his new wing at Wilton House, Wiltshire in 1636, but the level of the surveyor’s involvement in this project is uncertain. The remaining handful of clients consisted mostly of fellow Crown servants such as Sir Fulke Greville*, Sir Edward Cecil* and perhaps (Sir) Francis Crane*.37 The one constant relationship dating from his earlier career was with Arundel. Jones carried out various alterations at Arundel House in the Strand, and in 1638 designed a small office-building for the earl’s heir, Henry Frederick Howard*, Lord Maltravers. Like Jones, Arundel was a commissioner for new buildings in London, but the two men also met socially, for example sampling the peaches at Ware Park, Hertfordshire in 1618. In his draft will of March 1617, the earl described Jones as his ‘most approved good friend’.38

In 1621 Jones was returned to Parliament at New Shoreham, an Arundel-controlled seat, in a by-election caused by the surprise ejection from the Commons of Sir John Leedes for procedural irregularities. Why Jones sought membership of the House is not clear, and his only contributions to its proceedings reflected his professional expertise. On 26 Mar. he was named to a committee for improving the lighting and increasing the seating in the chamber, and the Commons ordered that a warrant be issued to him, presumably in connection with these matters. A new gallery was duly constructed at the lower end of St. Stephen’s Chapel during the summer recess. Jones also attended a committee on 14 May to discuss Sir Robert Mansell’s* glass-making patent, which Jones stated had led to reduced quality and higher prices. This opinion, which was reported in the House two days later, was consistent with his official assessment of the glass-works, given 14 months earlier.39

In 1623 Jones erected a new ceiling in the Lords’ Chamber. The following year the circumstances surrounding his return at New Shoreham were cited in the Commons, somewhat inaccurately, as a precedent for resolving the Southwark election dispute. During that same Parliament he was summoned before the committee for grievances to answer complaints against the commission for new buildings in London (19 Apr. 1624).40

Despite his association with Arundel, Jones’s Court career depended heavily on his personal relationship with the Crown, and particularly with Charles I, who valued his knowledge of art, entrusted him with his antique coins, and relied on his skills as an image-former. After 1631, when Jones’s 26-year-long collaboration with Jonson ended in acrimony, the surveyor exercised complete control over the conceptual content of the royal masques, and sympathized entirely with the invariable message that, in bringing order to the world, princes partook of the divine nature. Jones likewise sought in his architectural designs an aesthetic perfection of form which reflected the supposedly harmonious structure of the cosmos, and in his 1632 masque ‘Albion’s Triumph’ even introduced a view of Whitehall, probably the Banqueting House, as an analogy for royal virtue.41 Jones’s belief that order and civilization were promoted by both classicism and monarchy manifested itself clearly in his grandiose later projects for the Crown. The Corinthian portico at St. Paul’s, paid for by Charles I, was the largest structure of its kind in northern Europe, while the abortive proposals of around 1638 for reconstructing Whitehall Palace envisaged an ideal re-creation of Roman houses described by Pliny the Younger, Palladio and Scamozzi, but on a scale which would eclipse the Louvre and the Escorial.42

While Charles I’s regime went unchecked, Jones was secure. However, he antagonized both colleagues and rivals, such as Jonson and the architect Balthazar Gerbier, with his arrogant conviction of his own genius and his determination to take the lead in every enterprise. The same factors, combined with the advanced and personal character of his designs, helped to ensure that even at Court few people entirely shared or appreciated his cultural vision.43 In the popular mind, Jones became associated with the extravagance of the royal masques, with interference in London building-work and with the widely resented St. Paul’s project. The latter perceptions were exacerbated by the king’s attempt in 1637 to force Jones’s reconstruction plans on the parishioners of St. Michael le Querne, and more especially by the surveyor’s long-running feud with the congregation of St. Gregory’s church, which immediately abutted St. Paul’s on the south side. Jones was initially content to preserve this church, but the parishioners’ persistent digging of vaults which threatened the cathedral’s foundations, together with a growing determination to clear St. Paul’s of all encroachments, drove him in 1639 to have St. Gregory’s largely demolished.44

Jones’s final masque was staged in January 1640. In November, shortly after the opening of the Long Parliament, the now homeless congregation of St. Gregory’s petitioned the Commons for action against him. In January 1641 the House decided to recommend Jones’s impeachment to the Lords, but the charge was not ready until the following July, and formal proceedings began only on 10 December. In the meantime the surveyor continued with his official duties, which included fitting up Westminster Hall for the trial of Strafford (Sir Thomas Wentworth*) in March 1641. Jones was sufficiently concerned by developments that he apparently contemplated fleeing the country in January 1642, but four months later the Commons backed down from a formal impeachment, and then abandoned the case.45 In July Jones lent the king £500, and subsequently claimed that this was the extent of his contribution to the royalist war effort. By the end of the year he had left London, eventually seeking shelter with the royalist garrison at Basing House, Hampshire, where he may have advised on siege defences. Stripped of his clothes during the sack of the house in October 1645, to the immense glee of parliamentarian propagandists, Jones was brought back to London and in May 1646 compounded for his delinquency, paying £1,045 outright to free himself from sequestration and other penalties at the same time. A month later he was obliged to petition the Lords to avoid liability for losses incurred by the carpenter who had carried out the preparations for Strafford’s trial, but thereafter he seems to have been left in peace.46

Very little is known about Jones’s final years. He must have been saddened by the vandalizing of his St. Paul’s repairs and the demolition around 1650 of royal property such as the Prince’s Lodgings at Newmarket. However, he was able by 1649 to return to his old home in Whitehall, and he is said to have advised on two final building projects, the design of Coleshill House, Berkshire, and the restoration of Wilton House after fire damage.47 Whether or not he ever recovered the £2,000 left with a friend when he fled London in 1642, let alone the £2,090 which he claimed the Crown owed him in 1646, his financial position was very comfortable. The bequests contained in his will of 22 July 1650 amounted to nearly £4,000, the bulk of which, in the absence of direct heirs, was left to his cousin german Anne Webb, wife of his pupil John Webb, and their children. Another £200 was allocated for his funeral expenses and the erection of a monument. The will sheds no light on Jones’s religious convictions. Wren claimed that he died a Catholic, but the queen’s clergy during the 1630s recorded that he was, if anything, a free-thinker, unsympathetic to Rome.48 Jones is said to have died at Somerset House in London, but neither his reason for being there nor the precise date are known. He was buried with his parents at St. Benet Paul’s Wharf in the City on 26 June 1652. A memorial to him, featuring reliefs of St. Paul’s cathedral and either the Banqueting House, Whitehall or Covent Garden, was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.49

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball

Notes

E115/226/81; SP23/177, p. 777.

  • 1. J. Summerson, ‘Prince Henry’s Works’, Hist. of King’s Works ed. H.M. Colvin, iii. 121-3; PROB 11/89, f. 275v.
  • 2. Vertue Notebooks i (Walpole Soc. xviii), 105.
  • 3. Summerson, ‘Prince Henry’, 123.
  • 4. C66/1998/2; H.M. Colvin, Biog. Dict. of Brit. Architects (3rd edn.), 556-7.
  • 5. J. Summerson, ‘Surveyorship of Inigo Jones’, King’s Works, iii. 139.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 528; G. Higgott, ‘The Fabric to 1670’, St. Paul’s: the Cathedral Church of London ed. D. Keene, A. Burns and A. Saint, 182.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 363.
  • 8. C66/2165; CSP Dom. 1640, p. 604.
  • 9. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 83.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 347v; 181/3, f. 213v; 181/5, ff. 81, 114v.
  • 11. C66/2221.
  • 12. HMC 11th Rep. iii. 24.
  • 13. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 97; C181/3, f. 157.
  • 14. C181/3, f. 198v; 181/5, ff. 114, 155.
  • 15. W.H. St. John Hope, Windsor Castle, i. 295.
  • 16. C231/5, p. 32; C66/2859.
  • 17. C181/5, ff. 117v, 119.
  • 18. C. Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus, i. 3.
  • 19. Summerson, ‘Prince Henry’, 121; Colvin, 554; PROB 11/46, f. 329v; 11/63, f. 313; T. Girtin, Golden Ram, 143; REQ 2/56/6.
  • 20. Summerson, ‘Prince Henry’, 121-2; J. Newman, ‘Inigo Jones’s Architectural Educ.’, Architectural Hist. xxxv. 18.
  • 21. Summerson, ‘Prince Henry’, 122; P. Cunningham, Inigo Jones and Ben Jonson, 6; J. Orrell, The Theatres of Inigo Jones and John Webb, 8.
  • 22. S. Orgel and R. Strong, Inigo Jones: the Theatre of the Stuart Ct. ii. 6-7, 18, 46; J. Sumner Smith, ‘Italian Sources of Inigo Jones’s Style’, Burlington Mag. xciv. 203; J. Summerson, Inigo Jones, 32; J. Peacock, ‘Inigo Jones as a Figurative Artist’, Renaissance Bodies ed. L. Gent and N. Llewellyn, 170-1.
  • 23. Summerson, Jones, 21; HMC Hatfield, xxiv. 149-50; L. Stone, ‘Inigo Jones and the New Exchange’, Archaeological Jnl. cxiv. 108-111.
  • 24. G. Higgott, ‘Inigo Jones in Provence’, Architectural Hist. xxvi. 24, 26, 28-9; SP78/55, f. 124; E. Chaney, review article, Burlington Mag. cxxx. 633-4.
  • 25. L. Stone, Fam. and Fortune, 79-81; Colvin, 558.
  • 26. Summerson, ‘Prince Henry’, 124-6; Summerson, Jones, 34; T. Wilks, ‘Rivalries among the Designers at Prince Henry’s Court, 1610-12’, Court Historian, vi. pt. 1, pp. 53, 57-8, 61-4.
  • 27. Summerson, Jones, 26-8; Newman, 27, 30, 36-7, 41, 43-4, 47, 49.
  • 28. M.F.S. Hervey, Life of Arundel, 77, 80-1, 83, 85-6; Summerson, Jones, 35-6.
  • 29. Hervey, 93-4; Colvin, 556.
  • 30. G. Higgott, ‘Inigo Jones’s Theory of Design’, Architectural Hist. xxxv. 56; Summerson, Jones, 44-8, 50-6, 58-64.
  • 31. HMC 7th Rep. 257; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 20; 1635-6, p. 568; 1637-8, pp. 442, 514.
  • 32. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 42, 501; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 389; 1635, pp. 382-3.
  • 33. Stuart Royal Procs. ed. J.F. Larkin and P.L. Hughes, i. 47-8; 111-12; 267-8; 398-400.
  • 34. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 55; 1631-3, p. 58; 1633-4, p. 96; 1637, p. 421; 1637-8, p. 332; 1639-40, p. 97.
  • 35. J. Newman, ‘Inigo Jones and the Politics of Architecture’, Culture and Pols. in Early Stuart Eng. ed. K. Sharpe and P. Lake, 246; Summerson, Jones, 87, 89; D. Duggan, ‘London the Ring, Covent Garden the Jewel of that Ring: New Light on Covent Garden’, Architectural History, xliii. 141, 143.
  • 36. Summerson, Jones, 101-4; Higgott, ‘Fabric’, 175, 178, 180-1.
  • 37. Colvin, 559, 561; M. Prestwich, Cranfield, 93, 95.
  • 38. Colvin, 559; Summerson, Jones, 114; C66/2165; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 169; Tierney, ii. 437; J. Newman, ‘A Draft Will of the Earl of Arundel’, Burlington Mag. cxxii. 692, 696.
  • 39. J.K. Gruenfelder, Influence in Early Stuart Elections, 133; C231/4, f. 119; CJ, i. 572b-3a, 622b; CD 1621, iv. 354; vi. 161; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 73; E351/3254; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 134;
  • 40. Colvin, 559; Holles 1624, p. 16; Harl. 6803, f. 66.
  • 41. R. Wittkower, Palladio and Eng. Palladianism, 68-9; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 488; Orgel and Strong, ii. 13, 39, 50, 52, 57; Higgott, ‘Jones’s Theory’, 51; J. Wood, ‘Taste and Connoisseurship at the Court of Charles I’, The Stuart Courts ed. E. Cruickshanks, 119.
  • 42. Summerson, Jones, 104-5, 128-31.
  • 43. Wittkower, 68; D.J. Gordon, ‘Poet and architect’, Jnl. of Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, xii. 153, 162, 169-70; Higgott, ‘Jones’s Theory’, 65; Ct. of Jas. I ed. G. Goodman, ii. 360; Orgel and S