Architecture at Burghley House : the patronage of William Cecil, 1553-1598
Husselby, Jillian (1996) Architecture at Burghley House : the patronage of William Cecil, 1553-1598. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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William Cecil held office for the first forty years of Queen Elizabeth's reign, and
was the most powerful man in England for most of that time. He was also its most
important architectural patron. Not only was he the builder of three great houses, one of
which was to become a royal palace, he also played a leading role in the direction of
state architecture undertaken by the Office of the Royal Works. Architecturally and
historically therefore Burghley, his only surviving house, holds an important position.
Research has focused on extending the knowledge of the building history and how
this information can contribute to the understanding of the relationship between patron
and building in patron-led architectural process. Above all, it stresses how the end
product of this process was designed to function for the purposes of its political master.
In the historiography of the period Cecil's patronage has been stereotyped within the
persistently low estimation of architectural patronage in England Consequently his
architectural experience, educational background and intellectual stature, all of which
bear comparison with major contemporary European patrons, have tended to be
marginalized, and the more complex aspects of the architectural results to be
The broader context of Cecil's overlapping private and institutional cultural
patronage is explored to establish a profile of its nature and the role of Burghley House in
his political strategy. New documentary evidence, some in Cecil's own hand, has
allowed a more precise understanding of Cecil as the principal intelligence directing and
determining the building's form and plan. Analysis of the archaeology of the standing
fabric in conjunction with RCHME's new measured plan of the ground floor has unlocked
a number of the mysteries of its architectural history, and revealed the sixteenth-century
house as a remarkably lucid architectural entity in the concept of its form and plan.
Burghley House has emerged as an important, if not seminal building in the
development of the country house as a response to the changing pattern of hospitality,
self-consciously designed for visiting peer groups and the corporate entertaining of the
queen and court. Its context is that of the imported court culture, as much as of the
Northamptonshire landscape. The sophisticated classical courtyard architecture with its
imperial iconography drawn from classical literature reflects this duality. So too does the
development of deer park and gardens simultaneously with the house. The evidence
further suggests that the whole environment was planned not only as the ideal sociopolitical
amenity, but as a visually as well as physically inter-related complex.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||N Fine Arts > NA Architecture|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Burghley, William Cecil, Baron, 1520-1598, Burghley House (Stamford, England), Country homes -- Design and construction -- History -- 16th century, Art patrons -- England -- History -- 16th century|
|Official Date:||April 1996|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of History of Art|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Morris, Richard K.|
|Sponsors:||British Academy (BA)|
This is an abridged version for electronic use, lacking Volume 3 due to copyright restrictions; please see the official URL for details on how to access the full version.
|Extent:||3 v. (iii, 442 leaves,  leaves of plates)|
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