Inigo Jones (July 15th 1573 – June 21st 1652) is regarded as the first significant British architect of the modern period, and the first to bring Italianate Renaissance architecture to England. He left his mark on London by single buildings, such as the Banqueting House, Whitehall, and in area design for Covent Garden square which became a model for future developments in the West End. He also made major contributions to stage design by his work as theatrical designer for several dozen masques, most by royal command and many in collaboration with Ben Jonson.
LifeTowards the end of the 16th century, Jones became one of the first Englishmen to study architecture in Italy, making two visits to that country. The first (c.1598-1603) was possibly funded by Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland. The second visit, from 1613 to 1614, found Inigo in the company of the Earl of Arundel. From this time stems Palladio's influence on his work. To a lesser extent, he also held that the setting out of buildings should be guided by principles first described by ancient Roman writer Vitruvius.
ArchitectureJones' best known buildings are the Queen's House at Greenwich, London (started in 1616, his earliest surviving work) and the Banqueting House at Whitehall (1619) – part of a major modernization by him of the Palace of Whitehall. The Banqueting House was one of several projects where Jones worked with his personal assistant and nephew by marriage John Webb.
Jones was also commissioned by the Earl of Bedford to build a residential square in Covent Garden, which he did along the lines of an Italian piazza. The Earl felt obliged to add a church to his piazza, but was reluctant to spend a lot of money. He warned Jones to erect a "barn" and Jones' oft-quoted response was that his lordship would have "the finest barn in Europe". The inside of St Paul's the church that Jones built for the Earl in Covent Garden was gutted by fire in 1795, but externally it remains much as Jones designed it and dominates the west side of the piazza.
As the Surveyor of Works to King Charles I, Jones worked for Queen Henrietta Maria on the design of a Roman Catholic chapel at Somerset House (an act that provoked great suspicion from the Protestants) and his career effectively ended with the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642 and the seizure of the King's houses in 1643. His property was later returned to him (c.1646) but Jones ended his days living in Somerset House and was subsequently buried with his parents in the Church of St Benet Paul's Wharf, the Welsh church of the City of London. John Denham and then Christopher Wren followed him as King's Surveyor of Works.