Henry Flitcroft

St. Giles-in-the-Fields was designed, as is prominently revealed on its blackened west façade, by Henry Flitcroft, who I had thought of as one of those rather dull, first generation Palladians, who made architecture less interesting than it was when Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor were at the Office of Works.   But I now discover that he was more interesting than I had thought.   His father, Jeffery, was Lancashire born and worked as a gardener at Hampton Court.   Young Henry, later known as Harry, was trained as a joiner, apprenticed to Thomas Morris in 1711.   Whilst working as a carpenter at Burlington House in 1719, he fell off the scaffolding (there is an entry in Burlington’s accounts for the medical care of an injured workman).   While he was recuperating, Lord Burlington realised his talents as a draughtsman and he began to work as Burlington’s factotum, superintending work at Tottenham House in Savernake, as well as Westminster Dormitory.   St. Giles was one of his early works, won in competition with James Gibbs.   The prominent inscription H. FLITCROFT ARCHITECTUS shows consciousness of his own talent.   The design is much less pure pattern book than much contemporary Palladianism.

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