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John Thorpe

(c. 1565—1655) surveyor and architect


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(c. 1565–c.1655).

English land-and building-surveyor, who also appears to have designed (though rarely supervised) buildings. He produced a book of plans (preserved in Sir John Soane's Museum, London) containing surveys and projects for country--houses. He probably designed Thornton College, Lincs. (c. 1607–10), the outer court at Audley End, Essex (c.1615), Aston Hall, Warwicks. (1618–35), perhaps Dowsby Hall, Lincs. (after 1610), and Somerhill, near Tonbridge, Kent (c. 1610–13), all showy Jacobean houses, some with plans of Palladian origin, but detail derived from French sources, e.g. du Cerceau. A gallery between the Rosse and Stanton Towers, Belvoir Castle, Leics., for which drawings survive, was by him (1625–7). He may have been responsible for the English version of Hans Blum's treatise (1550) on the Orders, and also for an English translation of du Cerceau's work on perspective. He was therefore more than ‘an unimportant clerk in the office of works’ as some have claimed. His father was Thomas Thorpe, master-mason, involved in building at Kirby Hall, Northants. (c.1570).

AH, xxiii (1980), 1–39, xxxii (1989), 30–51;Architectural Review, cvi/635 (Nov. 1949), 291–300;Blum (1550);Colvin (1995);Lees-Milne (1951);LH&A, viii (1973), 13–34, xix (1984), 57–63;Placzek (ed.) (1982);Summerson (ed.) (1993);Walpole Society, xl (1966), whole issue.

Subjects: Architecture.


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