Spotlight on Winchester at London’s V&A Museum

One of the most valuable pictures in Winchester City Council’s art collection has been borrowed for display at the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in London.


The original drawing in pen and pencil was made by Sir Christopher Wren in around 1682 and is the design for the planned Winchester Palace.  The drawing has been loaned as part of an exhibition called Europe and the English Baroque: English Architecture 1660-1715 which has been organised by the Drawings Curator of the Royal Institute of British Architects.


The exhibition explores the original design model of Nicholas Hawksmoor's baroque jewel Easton Neston (1694), a Northamptonshire country house which has recently been acquired by the Royal Institute of British Architects.  The display looks at how continental ideas were used and adapted by English architects between the Restoration in 1660 and the year 1715, which is often seen as the start of the Palladian revival.


The Wren drawing is important in the context of the exhibition because, unlike most English architects at the time, Wren had actually been abroad (six months in Paris in 1665) and he therefore had some first hand experience of the continental baroque style.  The drawing is the original design for Charles II’s proposed palace in Winchester, which was inspired by the great French Palace of Versailles.  Sadly, it was never finished and burned down in 1894. 


The Winchester drawing can be seen in the V&A+RIBA Architecture Exhibition Gallery at the Museum until the 9 November, alongside drawings on loan from other institutions such as RIBA; Queen's College and All Souls College, Oxford; and Sir John Soane's Museum. Admission to the exhibition is free.


If you would like to know more about Winchester Palace and other aspects of Winchester in the Tudor and Stuart periods, visit the Westgate Museum at the top of the High Street, Winchester.  Admission is free.