Basic Biographical Details

Name: Inigo Jones
Designation: Architect
Born: 1573
Died: 21 June 1652
Bio Notes: Inigo Jones was born in 1573 and baptised in St Bartholomew-the-Less, Smithfield in July of that year, the son of Inigo Jones, a clothworker. The family had its roots in Wales. Jones is said to have been apprenticed as a joiner in St Paulís churchyard. However he first appears on record as an artist. In the household accounts of the 5th Earl of Rutland, a payment of £10 was made to ĎHenygo Jones, a picture makerí in 1603 and that year he accompanied the Earl to the Danish Court on a diplomatic mission. Jonesís pupil Webb records that Jones had spent time in Italy and may have gone as part of the entourage of Francis Manners, brother of the Earl, who travelled to the Continent between about 1598 and 1603. In 1605 Jones was described as a Ďgreat travellerí. An inscription (of 1606) in a book that was gifted to him records the hope that through Jonesí agency all manner of different arts and architecture would be brought over the Alps to England. By the early years of the reign of James VI and I, Jones had enough knowledge of the Italian arts and architecture to enable him to introduce them into England.

Jones was first employed by the monarchy in the reign of Queen Anne and was employed to stage over four hundred and fifty masques, plays and other court entertainments. He worked in tandem with Ben Jonson. However both men were assertive and temperamentally similar and their relationship was difficult. 450 drawings for scenery and costumes survive which indicate the quality of Jonesí draughtsmanship. They show a development between 1605 and 1609, the later ones demonstrating a familiarity with Italian stage designs especially that of Florence and support the theory that Jones visited Italy in 1606. What is certain is that Jones made a short visit to France in 1609 and inspected the Roman monuments in France.

Jones's involvement in architecture post-dates his theatre design work. His first known design was for a monument to Lady Cotton who died in 1606 at Norton-in Hales in Shropshire and may have been influenced by a Roman sarcophagus in Arles. Drawings of about 1608 for the New Exchange in the Strand and for crowning the damaged steeple of St Paulís Cathedral indicate a rising interest in architecture and make reference to the work of Serlio, Palladio and Sangallo but lack architectural know-how.

In 1610 Jones was appointed Surveyor to Henry Prince of Wales and besides devising a masque and dramatic tourney for the Prince may have undertaken work at St Jamesí Palace. However Jones lost the appointment when the Prince died in 1612 and it was not until 27 April 1613 that he was granted the reversion of Surveyor of the Kingsí Works. About this time Jones probably acquired a number of drawings by Palladio although he was already familiar with some of the main architectural treatises such as Vitruvius.

Jonesís second trip to Italy was very important in his development as an architect. He accompanied the young Earl of Arundel a great patron and collector of art who was escorting Princess Elizabeth and her husband the Elector Palatine to Heidelberg after their wedding in England. Thereafter Arundel and Jones spent a year in Italy in 1613 visiting Rome and Naples and a range of cities in northern Italy, including Venice where he added to his collection of Palladio drawings. Although he was still studying the work of painters such as Sciavone, Parmigianino and Guercino he was also systematically visiting the buildings in standard architectural works such as those of Palladio and Serlio and acquiring a critical knowledge of the theory and details of classical architecture.

In September 1615 Jones succeeded to the Surveyorís post. This post enabled him to design whatever buildings were required for the king. Jones was fortunate as James VI and I spent lavishly on his palaces and the Queenís House at Greenwich and the Queenís Chapel at St Jamesí Palace are two examples of Jonesís work during this period. They show Jones had assimilated the principles of Renaissance architecture without the influence of Roman baroque.

Jonesís main works between 1625 and 1640 were the remodelling of St Paulís Cathedral and the design of Covent Garden for the Earl of Bedford. His work at St Paulís and at the Queenís Chapel at St Jamesí was to have an important influence on the work of Wren during the reign of Charles II. However the outstanding legacy at the Cathedral was the huge Corinthian portico, the largest north of the Alps. At Covent Garden where he designed St Paulís Church (not to be confused with the Cathedral) he designed the first wholly classical church in England and carried out a scheme in the same area which was to have a significant influence on English urban planning. However his scheme for replacing the old Whitehall Palace with buildings grouped symmetrically around a series of large courtyards was never executed. This was intended to be a statement of Royalist supremacy but was a victim of Charles Iís political and financial problems. The scheme was to be a starting point for the projects for a new Whitehall which continued until the reign of William III.

After taking up his appointment as Surveyor of the Kingís Works Jones did not have much time for private commissions. Jonesís services were reserved for none but the most senior and important courtiers such as the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Salisbury and the Earl of Bedford and work by Jones for these clients is not documented and can only be judged on stylistic grounds.

One of Jonesís main contributions to English architecture was the correct use of the orders used on majorpublic buildings but he and his followers also left a legacy of simple astylar domestic architecture which was popular after the Restoration. Here proportions governed the designs. Serlio rather than Palladio was the main source of inspiration. No major buildings by Jones are known to have been executed in this idiom (they are only known through drawings) but his influence can be seen in a number of villas and stable buildings. As regards townhouses in London, the facades typically have a pedimented gable with an Italianate iron window balcony or pergola which were also influential.

As Kingís architect Jones was involved in Charles Iís attempt to control the growth of London and to impose standards on what new buildings were permitted. The Covent Garden scheme for the Earl of Bedford was a by-product of this attempt at control. In return for the licence the Earl was to give Jones responsibility for the development. But in this case and elsewhere the citizens of London did not necessarily fall in with his ideas.

Jones fell out of favour in the 1640s. The court entertainments he designed were extremely expensive; he was perceived as the source of the unpopular restrictions on building development in London and he was seen as an accomplice to Archbishop Laud on the rebuilding of St Paulís Cathedral. He was summoned to appear before the House of Lords to answer for his high-handed treatment of the parishioners of St Gregoryís whose church stood very close to St Paulís. He was not impeached but ordered to give the materials gathered for the repair of St Paulís to the congregation of St Gregoryís. In January 1642 he followed the King to Yorkshire where he was probably to assist in the siege of Hull with his knowledge of fortifications. The following year he lent money to the King but was later ousted from his post as Surveyor of the Kingís Works. He was captured by the Cromwellians in 1645 and his estate was sequestrated, though later restored by payment of a fine. He and his pupil Nicholas Stone had hidden their money in Lambeth Marsh. His will dated 22 July 1650 shows he had made a small fortune.

He died unmarried on 21 June 1652 and was buried at St Benetís, Paulís Wharf. A commemorative monument was destroyed in the Great Fire. He may have been a Catholic as he had many Catholic patrons. However the fact that he was an MP in 1621 and a Justice of the Peace means he must have been a conforming Anglican throughout his working life. There are numerous portraits of Jones including a print by Martin vanden Enden after a painting by Van Dyck (see below). His drawings passed to his pupil John Webb and through many other hands before arriving in the RIBA drawings collection. His masque designs were retained by the 4th Duke of Devonshire. Another collection of his drawings were bequeathed to Worcester College Oxford as was some of his library. Other books ended up in various other locations which are outlined by Colvin.

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 11616Palace of Holyroodhouse  EdinburghScotlandDecoration and furnishing of Chapel Royal


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 5Colvin, H (ed.)1982History of the King's Works  Volume 3. John Summerson: 'The Surveyorship of Inigo Jones'
Item 2 of 5Colvin, Howard2008A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 London: YUP. 4th edition 
Item 3 of 5Harris, John and Higgott, Gordon1989Inigo Jones: Complete Architectural Drawings  Comprehensive bibliography in this publication.
Item 4 of 5New DNB New Dictionary of National Biography   
Item 5 of 5Summerson, John1966Inigo Jones   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Architectural History199235 John Newman: 'Inigo Jones's Architectural Education'.
Item 2 of 2RIBA Journalearly LX00s1953London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsR.Wittkower: 'Inigo Jones Architect and Man of Letters'