William Halfpenny

William Halfpenny

William Halfpenny, English 18th-century architectural designer; he described himself as "architect and carpenter".

His books deal almost entirely with domestic architecture, and especially with country houses in the neo-Gothic and Chinoiserie fashions which were so greatly in vogue in the middle of the 18th century. His most important publications, from the point of view of their effect upon taste, were "New Designs for Chinese Temples", in four parts (1750-52); "Rural Architecture in the Gothic Taste" (1752); "Chinese and Gothic Architecture Properly Ornamented" (1752); and "Rural Architecture in the Chinese Taste" (1750-1752). This last book is believed to have introduced the word "gazebo" to the English language.

These four books were produced in collaboration with John Halfpenny, who is said to have been his son. "New Designs for Chinese Temples" is a volume of some significance in the history of furniture, since, having been published some years before the books of Thomas Chippendale and Sir Thomas Chambers, it disproves the statement so often made that those designers introduced the Chinese taste into this country. Halfpenny states distinctly that "the Chinese manner" had been "already introduced here with success." The work of the Halfpennys was by no means all contemptible. It is sometimes distinctly graceful, but is marked by little originality.

A number of country houses in Gloucestershire draw directly from his designs, including Stouts Hill, near Uley; Frampton Court, Frampton-on-Severn; and Upton House, near Tetbury.


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