In 1570 Andrea Palladio, one of Italy’s greatest and most imitated architects, explained his theories in his Four Books on Architecture. In the 1600s, English architect Inigo Jones brought Palladio’s ideas to England, so beginning a new style of beautifully proportioned, symmetrical buildings called ‘Palladian’.

As Surveyor of the King’s Works, this was one of Inigo Jones’s first designs for James I’s wife, Anne of Denmark. The Queen’s House was built in the grounds of the Tudor Palace of Placentia at Greenwich. The design Jones produced was in the new style, and the completed building looked very different from the red brick, rather higgledy piggledy Tudor palace.

Inigo Jones’s influence

The new house was such a novelty that people called it ‘The White House’. Jones ensured that the house cleverly bridged the main Woolwich to Deptford road. He used classical (Ionic) orders, and geometrically measured spaces to create a structure of harmonious proportions. For example the Great Hall is a 12 m (40 ft) cube, and the design of its marble floor matches the composition of squares and circles on its ceiling. In 1619, Jones went on to use a double cube device when designing the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall, and again at Wilton House in 1649.

It was not until the 18th century that Jones’s ideas were taken up by Lord Burlington, Colen Campbell and William Kent, resulting in the Georgian style that is familiar in towns and cities all over the country. Inigo Jones’s genius created an English Palladianism which influenced and inspired later architects in the classical tradition.

See the Great Hall and Tulip Stairs

Find out more about Inigo Jones's work on the Queen's House

Discover more about Andrea Palladio