Elizabethan style

Elizabethan style (ĭlĭzˌəbēˈthən) [key], in architecture and the decorative arts, a transitional style of the English Renaissance, which took its name from Queen Elizabeth's reign (1558–1603). During this period many large manor houses were erected by the court nobility. The plans and facades tended more toward symmetry, although there remained many of the characteristics of the Tudor style. The great hall of medieval manors was retained, and features were added that increased the occupants' comfort—a broad staircase, a long gallery connecting the wings of the house on the upper floors, withdrawing rooms, and bedrooms of greater size and importance. Examples of the great manors of the period are Longleat, Wiltshire; Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire; Kirby Hall, Northamptonshire; Montacute House, Somerset; and Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. The houses were often designed by the owners themselves, who furnished ideas that were amplified by their mason or carpenter. The freemason Robert Smythson is one of the earliest names associated with English architecture. From Flemish and Italian books the planners haphazardly adapted Renaissance, mannerist, and Flemish motifs, including columns, pilasters, lozenges, festoons, scrolls, and grotesque figures. No attempt was made to achieve the unified classical style of architecture that had already appeared in Italy and France. A greater unity was achieved in the subsequent Jacobean style. In landscape design, formal gardens were developed with clipped boxwood and yews along balustraded terraces, which formed a finished setting for the great manors. In the houses of lesser gentry and yeomen, construction in the Gothic style continued, with the use of half-timber construction, leaded windows, and hammer-beam roofs.

See J. Buxton, Elizabethan Taste (1963); M. Girouard, Elizabethan Architecture (2010).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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