From the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 to James I's death in 1625 - the age of Shakespeare and the Authorized Version of the Bible - a delayed Renaissance swept England and pervaded the domestic architecture and interiors of the day. Uninhibited, inventive and delighting in decorative detail, a new and truly English style emerged that has had a romantic appeal ever since.

This splendidly illustrated book not only shows the magnificence of the new style of architecture through specially commissioned photography of Elizabethan and Jacobean houses, but also examines the great pattern books of the time to show the roots of the often wild elaboration of the period. In architecture, interior design, furniture and furnishings, classical detail was constantly fused with a Tudor vernacular, to create an exuberant and highly decorative style that defies conventional rules. This achievement is placed in the context of a rich social and cultural life, when literature and the theatre flourished, masques and entertainments proliferated, chivalry was revived and a new type of garden was created as an extension to the house.

In a lively and controversial narrative, Tim Mowl argues that this flamboyant style represents the last outpouring of truly native genius in art and architecture before it was stifled by the dead hand of classicism.

Phaidon Publishing, 1993; Paperback, 2001, £19.95

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