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Cheshire Architecture - Palladianism

PUBLISHED: 11:56 19 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:56 19 January 2015

Exterior of Tabley House

Exterior of Tabley House


Palladian architecture is a style of architecture inspired by the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio, 1508–1580, and today is a term that still refers to buildings designed in a style inspired by Palladio’s work.

Palladio’s work was strongly based on the symmetry, perspective and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

Palladianism became popular briefly in Britain during the mid-17th century, but its spread was cut short by the onset of the Civil War and the austerity that followed. Austerity during this period was of course not limited to financial struggles, but the imposition of Puritan values across all aspects of life, from thought and behaviour right through to dress and design.

In the early 18th century Palladianism returned, briefly, to fashion, and caught the attention of Sir Peter Byrne Leicester, who was building a new family home at Tabley to replace the ancient property used until that time, which had started its life in the late fourteenth century on an island in the lake, the remains of which can still be seen.

Tabley House is the only eighteenth century Palladian style country house in Cheshire, but it is a glorious example of the genre and well worth a visit. Having remained within the family until 1975, Tabley House was offered to the National Trust, who declined the offer. Now, the House is owned by Cygnet Health Care, who operate a care home for the elderly there but also maintain a suite of rooms on the first floor of the house – and the contents form one of the most important art and furniture collections in the region.

Sir Peter’s son, Sir John Fleming Leicester, later 1st Lord de Tabley, was the first great patron and collector of British paintings. He assembled a splendid collection at Tabley and in his London house during the first decade of the 19th Century and dreamed of establishing a National Gallery of British Art.

JMW Turner, Henry Thompson and James Ward were among the many painters who stayed at Tabley and you can see important works by them in the rooms for which they were created, together with fine paintings by Dobson, Lely, Reynolds, Cotes, Northcote, Fuseli, Opie, Martin and others.

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