Nikolaus Pevsner, my hero amongst architectural historians, carefully differentiated between this William III style and the later Queen Anne style of William’s sister in law. The houses and gardens of the William III era (1650–1702) were graceful but rather heavy, coming mid-way between the French-inspired Baroque of the Restoration and the rather austere Queen Anne period that might have better reflected Protestant Huguenot taste. For example, the use of brick became popular in Britain as an element of William’s international influence. He was, after all, born and raised in the Netherlands.
To restate the importance of the Huguenots on William III taste, note that among the Huguenots seeking refuge in Calvinist Holland was interior designer Daniel Marot, himself the son of an architect. The stadtholder soon commissioned Marot to work on his palace at Het Loo in the Netherlands and other buildings. William also took a keen interest in the gardens that Marot designed, so it was not a surprise when Marot followed William and Mary to England.
Treasure Hunt made a similar point. Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire has a variety of Dutch art objects, collected by Secretary of War William Blathwayt during his travels with King William III to the Continent. Blathwayt adored Dutch paintings, seventeenth-century Delft glazed earthenware, cut flowers, Dutch stamped leather wallhangings and a state bed in the style of Daniel Marot.
South Bedfordshire in particular discovered late-Renaissance mansion architecture from France and the Netherlands. It foreshadowed the distinctive brick houses of the 18th century which were introduced through the royal patronage of King William.
Eggington House, built in 1696
I’d love to know how Jean Renouille made his livelihood in Bedfordshire - we know for a fact that he eventually became Sheriff of Bedfordshire, an establishment position if ever I heard of one. And within a generation, we know the Renouille family must have integrated rather nicely, because they Anglicised the family name to Reynal, moved to the very smart Hockliffe Grange and let out Eggington to other well-to-do families.
Pevsner described Eggington House as an uncommonly fine example of C17th domestic architecture, completely up to the moment in features. It was built of red brick under a tiled roof with a panelled parapet. The main façade had 7 bays of classical segment-headed sash windows and was three storeys high. The roof line was concealed by a panelled parapet decorated with urns. Surrounded on three sides by its own land and woodland, the house was approached down its own gravelled drive through a set of gates. Pevsner didn’t call it smallish, but I will.
Descriptions in CountryLife .co.uk are very useful. The house has magnificent reception rooms, all with high ceilings and full length sash windows allowing light to flood into every room. The interior contains a staircase with twisted balusters. The drawing room is peaceful with light, soft-oak panelling on all walls with attractive carved wooden alcoves either side of a carved wooden fire-place with a French door leading out onto the terrace and garden. The sash windows have their own light oak shutters and with wooden floor boards and wooden cornicing. The study has walls of decorative painted panels, a unique painted alcove which is thought to be of the original William III style and an impressive marble fire-place. The dining room leads off from the reception hall with walls of painted wooden panelling, wooden floor boards and an open fireplace.
The dining room today
Not many bloggers discussed Huguenot architecture after the expulsion (1685). katy elliot blog has wonderful images from Huguenot Street: New Paltz, NY but the slightly later date (early 1700s) suggests that the New York Huguenots had been living for a generation in The Netherlands. She suggested that the windows and shutters felt Dutch and different from anything she had ever seen in New England. Sam Gruber’s Jewish Art and Monuments also has an image of Huguenot architecture, but again it is early C18th. In 1742 a Huguenot chapel was built on the corner of Brick Lane and Fournier Street in Tower Hamlets in London’s East End. Called La Neuve Eglise, this dark brick and rather austere building later became Spitalfields Great Synagogue.
I would like to write a post on The French Protestant Hospital, La Providence, of the same era. But sofar I cannot find any photos of its original 1718 architecture.