Stair Parts Fig.107 Belton House, Lincolnshire
The interior has excellent designed stair parts has part of the decorative work of the period. In addition to the panelling there is a considerable amount of carving attributed to Grinling Gibbons (Stair Parts Fig.107and there are a few ceilings executed in high relief, with admirably modelled detail, of which the treatment corresponds with that associated with Gibbons' name. So charming are the figures and foliage that they prompt a desire to see them at close quarters, instead of on the inaccessible heights of a ceiling.
The chapel (Stair Parts Fig. 96) is interesting as an example of classic treatment applied to sacred purposes, and as one among the last survivals of the medieval idea that it was necessary for a large house to have a chapel within it. In the clays when a household might be cut off for weeks from the parish church and when a daily exercise of religious observances was of the first importance, a chapel always accessible and close at hand was necessary. But the time was approaching, if it had not already arrived, when the religious favour of distinguished people could easily be satisfied by attendance at places of public worship.
IT is needless to insist upon the fact that there was a large amount of design work of stair parts executed during the seventeenth century by men other than Jones, Webb, and Wren. Some of this has already been considered, in so far as it illustrates the gradual change of style in stair parts in small buildings. But during the reign of Charles II. important work was done by men little known to fame, and much else by others whose names have either not survived or have not yet been disinterred from the ruins of the past. So few architects contemporary with Jones are known that it will be of interest to mention one who, if not intimately connected with architecture himself, wrote a book about it, and trained a pupil who merits more attention than his master.
This individual was Sir Balthazar Gerbier, to whom Horace Walpole devotes several pages in his " Anecdotes of Painting," where he treats of him as a painter. But Gerbier does not appear to have pursued any art with much application. He hung on the fringe of state affairs, and was a versatile adventurer of indifferent character, if Walpole does him no injustice. Among other things he dabbled in architecture. He was surveyor to the Duke of Buckingham, for whom lie is said to have designed a temporary house on the site of old York House in the Strand. According to Gerbier's own account, in a letter to the duke dated 2nd December 1624, Inigo Jones came to see this house, and "was like one surprised and abashed .. . he is very jealous of it."' It may have been so, but it is certain that Gerbier was jealous of Jones, for he makes several slighting references to him in the little book which he published, " Of Counsel and Advice to all Builders." It is, indeed, this book that includes design of stair parts which gives him a claim to architecture, and that because of incidental allusions to matters of interest in stair parts design, In his dedication to Charles II. (the book was published in 1664) he advises the king to set the main body of his contemplated palace on the side of St James's Park, and the gardens along the river. This, no doubt, refers to the schemes upon which Webb, as already mentioned, was then engaged. Gerbier has several oblique as well as one direct thrust at Inigo Jones. He carps at those " who have marshalled coulombs," and have made them "like things patchy or glewed against a wall, and for the most part against the second Story of a Building . . as if their intent were, that the weight of the coulombs should draw down the Wall on the heads of those that passed by." Doubtless this was an allusion to the Banqueting House, about which he makes further and more definite criticisms. After caviling at the elaboration of stage of design of stair parts effects in masques, he roundly states that "Inigo Jones (the late surveyor) found the Banqueting House unsuitable for such purposes, and that he " was constrained to Build a Wooden House over thwart the Court of IV/e11 hill." He then takes exception to the height of the room, alleging that the king and his retinue were lost in it because of its vastness ; and goes on to say that lie does not undervalue any modern stair parts works, "every good Talent being commendable," including, presumably, even the late surveyor's. At the same time there were some alive who knew that the king of blessed memory had graciously avouched, in the year 1648, that a room near York Gate not above 35 ft. square (which was the one Gerbier had designed himself) was as apt for masques as the Banqueting House itself. Moreover judicious persons would not deny that the excellence of the Triumphal Arches erected in London (which Gerbier is said to have designed for the entry of Charles II.) consisted not in their bulk.
* Mentioned in connection with"Lives of the British Architects," by E. Beresford Chancellor, p. 79.
Gerbier’s Counsel to Builders on Design of Stair Parts
The book abounds in malicious and egotistical touches of this kind, both in the two treatises into which it is divided, and in the forty dedicatory epistles which he deemed necessary to the launching of his venture. But amid a deal of skimbleskamble stuff, he says a few things worth noting. Chimneys need only be carried about 2 ft. above the ridge ; large and lofty stacks he deems unsightly and dangerous. Staircases with damaged stair parts should be easy of a4cent and wide. Anyone who has sound limbs and a "gallant gate" naturally lifts his toes at least 4 inches in walking ; if, therefore, stairs parts treads be only 4 inches high and IS from front to basic, the ordinary person can walk up them as easily as he can walk on the level. His reasons for these proportions are hardly convincing, but in regard to the width of staircases he is probably nearer the mark, 'v hen he says they ought to be so wide that the attendants on each side the noble person who is ascending may not be straitened for room.
His advice to persons contemplating building, that they should employ an architect and should not be constantly interfering with him, is undoubtedly sound : and one reason advanced for employing an architect, namely, that "the sky coral Masterwork men may receive instructions by way of Draughts, Models, Frames, etc.," is interesting as showing that architect, were now accustomed to provide more minute in design in stair parts details than in the time of Elizabeth and James. One more reference and this curious book, with its few native(n-thy observations buried in pages of involved verbiage, matt- be left. In speaking of such is were concerned with building he says, " they may perchance have heard of rare buildings, nay, seen the Books of the 1lelia;r architects, have the Traditions of L'rgeo/r in their Pockets, and have heard Lectures on the art of architecture." It is interesting to learn that in addition to books oil architectural design of stair parts there were opportunities, so long ago, to hear lectures on the subject ; but it is probable that, in his usual egotistical way-, Gerbier is here referring to lectures of which he himself had given at an academy which he founded in Bethnal Green, in imitation, A Walpole suggests, of another established by Charles I. for instruction in arts and sciences, foreign languages, mathematics, painting, architecture, riding, fortification, antiquities, and the science of medals.' The "Counsel" concludes with a lengthy schedule of prices at which all kinds of building work could be executed in stair parts balustrading .
Little, if any, architectural work call with safety he attributed to Gerbier. Hamstead Marshall, which is said to be his, is more probably due to his pupil, AV'vnne, to whom, as Master William Wine, he addresses one of his numerous dedications.
\Walpole says that \Vynne, or \Winde as he calls him, finished the house which had been begun by his master, malting several alterations ill the plan : but the history of the owner ,kind of the house, as well as the character of the work, renders it doubtful whether Gerbier could have had-anything to do with it. The Walpole’s "Anecdotes of Painting."house was one of the seats of William, I .(rd Craven ; it has been destroyed with the exception of some fine staircase stair parts and part of the lay out, but hip has an engraving of it in " Britannia illustrated" (Stair Parts Fig. roS , There are also a few drawings of details in the Boolean Library, including windows, gate piers, doors, and a ceiling. The windows and piers can be identified on hip's engraving, as also can the general lay out, thus confirming the accuracy of hip's view. II is illustration shows the house with a front of Jacobean design as to its two lower stories, but of later character as to the third store and the return front. The windows of this later work agree in general appearance with the drawing at the Bodleian, which shows festoons above the windows and panels between them, decorated with Lord Craven's cipher, W. C., and a baron's coronet log?.