The Garden Guide

Book: Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1803
Chapter: Chapter XIII. Ancient Mansions

Magdalen College Oxford, Repton's Red Book 3

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In this climate we should seldom visit a hall, or a chapel, where all the light admitted was from the entrance, or from an uncovered aperture in the roof; and yet on such plans were constructed all the temples of the ancients. Our students in architecture, who have visited southern climates, were therefore obliged to copy the works of more modern artists, who, by various expedients, had endeavoured to make their buildings habitable; and from the modern Italian, rather than from the buildings of ancient Rome, have been introduced floors intersecting the shaft of a lofty column, or, what is still more offensive, columns of various orders, built over each other; while the whole face of the building is cut into minute parts by ranges of square apertures. Having at length discovered how seldom a very lofty portico* can be useful in this climate, where we have little perpendicular sun, the portico itself is filled up with building, and the columns are nearly half buried in the walls: this is the origin of that unmeaning ornament called a three-quarter column. By degrees these columns were discovered to be totally useless, and were at length entirely omitted; yet the skeleton of the portico and its architectural proportions still remain, as we frequently observe in the entablature and pediment of what is called a Grecian building. *[I have frequently smiled at the incongruity of Grecian architecture applied to buildings in this country, whenever I have passed the beautiful Corinthian portico to the north of the Mansion House, and observed, that on all public occasions it becomes necessary to erect a temporary awning of wood and canvas to guard against the inclemency of the weather. In southern climates, this portico, if placed towards the south, would have afforded shade from the vertical rays of the sun; but in our cold and rainy atmosphere, such a portico towards the north, is a striking instance of the false application of a beautiful model.]