A biography of the eminent English Barocque architect.
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
b. 1668 - d. 1743
With his rivals Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor, Archer stands as one of the most important practitioners of English Barocque architecture. Archer was trained in classical style; after a sojourn at Oxford University, he spent four years studying classical architecture first hand in Italy and throughout the continent. The appreciation he gained for classical proportion and style was augmented by his appreciation for the more modern work of Italian Barocque architects Borromini and Bernini.
Archer’s reputation was made by his work on three British churches, each displaying an individuality of design and character that show Archer’s ability to adapt his style to the job at hand. The first is the Church of St Philip, Birmingham (1709-1715), later to become Birmingham Cathedral. Here, the chief attraction is the tower, rising in finely articulated steps to a beautifully proportioned cupola.
The second is St Paul’s, Deptford (1730), a clever mixture of classical and Barocque styles. Here, the staunchly solid base is fronted by a rounded Doric portico of surprising grace, and surmounted by a slender steeple in the style of Wren.
The third church is the Church of St John, Westminster. This four-square building evokes similar reactions to Vanbrugh’s Blenheim Palace; viewers generally either admire or despise it. The design is imposing, perhaps overbearing, with a mixture of Roman and Greek Barocque ornamentation. The church was badly damaged by bombing in the Second World War, and was not fully restored until the 1960’s. Since that time it has been primarily used as a concert hall.
The final work for which Archer is remembered is the northern aspect of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, where his long, broadly curved pilastered bow frontage survives largely unaltered.
Contents © David Ross and Britain Express
Name the Historic attraction
British Heritage Awards
Celebrate the best of British Heritage in our annual
British History Quiz
Elizabeth Talbot (1518-1608), Countess of Shrewsbury, was popularly known as ...
She and her fourth husband, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, acted as custodians to Mary, Queen of Scots
She built a fabulous new house at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
This Day in British History
22 May, 1455
1st Battle of St Albans
Yorkists defeat a royal army and capture Henry VI. The Duke of York becomes Constable of England.