Keys to the Past


Vanburgh, John; Vanbrugh, John

Best known today as an architect, Vanburgh had a varied career. He was born in Cheshire at with Dutch ancestry from one grandfather - sometimes his name is spelt Vanbrugh. He was sent to France in 1683AD for architectural training - but later became an officer in the Earl of Huntingdon's regiment. There he rose to become a captain. In 1690AD he was seized at Calais, (France), as a spy and held for a time in the famous Paris Bastille prison till 1692AD. He resumed his military service - but was inspired to take up writing plays, such as Aesop (1696AD) and The Provoked Wife (1697AD).

He then changed direction to architecture - he built the famous Castle Howard (Yorkshire) and Blenheim Palace (Oxfordshire) houses in the 1700s, though these took many years to complete. The style of his buildings was Baroque. In between designing these houses in collaboration with Nicholas Hawksmoor and Floors Castle, Kelso, and Seaton Delaval, Northumberland (1718-1728AD), Vanburgh was appointed a herald by Queen Anne and built a theatre, he owned the lease, acting as manager and stage writer. His architectural work, and financial losses, in this last venture meant he sold it in 1708AD. Vanburgh died at his Whitehall home in March 1726 and was buried at Saint Stephen's, Walbrook, London.

To explore more glossary entries click on a letter.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Z 1-9