John Wood, the Elder

John Wood, the Elder

John Wood (1704- May 23, 1754, Bath), also named "Wood of Bath", was an English architect. He worked principally in the city of Bath, South West England.

John Wood, (The Elder), was born in Yorkshire, Northern England. He is known for designing many of the streets and buildings of Bath, such as the "Circus", "Queen Square", "Prior Park", the "North and South Parades", and other notable houses.

Many of the buildings he designed are littered with Icons and symbols associated with Freemasonry, leading many people that have studied his work to believe that he was a member of the society, even though there is no documentary proof. Wood wrote extensively about sacred geometry, and argued that the myths of the supposed founder of Bath, King Bladud were based on truth. He claimed that ancient British stone circles were the remains of once more alaborate buildings designed by Bladud.

His final masterpiece was the Circus, built on Barton Fields outside the old city walls of Bath. He demonstrated how a row of town houses could be dignified, almost palatial. The uses of uniform facades and rhythmic proportions in conjunction with classical principles of unerring symmetry were followed throughout the city.

Wood also left us the most important plan of Stonehenge ever made, his survey carried out in 1740, was annotated with hundreds of measurements, which he resolved on the ground to one half, sometimes even one quarter, of an inch (published in his "Choir Gaure") [ Wood, John, 1747" Choir Gaure, Vulgarly called Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain", Oxford] . This work has been largely overlooked, partly due to criticisms made by the Antiquarian William Stukeley. Stukeley disagreed vehemently with Wood’s interpretation of the monument, he also failed to see the significance of recording the stones in such detail. However Using Wood's original dimensions it has been possible to re-draw his work on a computer and compare the record with the modern plan of Stonehenge. His survey has immense archaeological value, for he recorded the stones fifty years before the collapse of the western trilithon (which fell in 1797 and was not restored until 1958) [Johnson, Anthony, "Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma". (Thames & Hudson, 2008) ISBN 978-0-500-05155-9] .

His son, John Wood, the Younger was also an architect.


ee also Biography of Wood at "The Building of Bath Museum"

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