The Jacobean Revival | Style Guide

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A lovely row of cottages in the Cotswolds area of middle England

Editorial and Photography By: Dr. Christopher Cooper

During the last two decades of the nineteenth and first two decades of the twentieth century, American and Canadian architects became well entrenched in the British Arts & Crafts movement, with some embracing elements of the Tudor and Jacobean Revival house styles of the time.

Although the best delineation of the two styles – Tudor and Jacobean, in their manifestation in the modern era, is that Tudor, was interpreted as a half timber style; the Jacobean style is much styled after the imposing fortress-like gentry houses of the early 17th century.

Typical of Canadian collegiate architecture, note the cut stone
features. Many of these early school buildings are still in service today.
Typical Dutch gable and semi-hexagonal bay.
One of the best features of the Jacobean Revival house is the windows,
and their nod to the Post-Medieval period.

Jacobean Revival House in Brantford, Ontario

This period was during the reign of James I (1603 – 1625 as King of England). The Latin name for James is Jacobus. The English style in vogue beginning with James I’ reign is referred to as “Jacobean,” as opposed to “Jamesian.”

The Revival style has become synonymous with collegiate architecture in Canada with many universities and high schools built in the early twentieth century adapting the impressive architectural vernacular.

The distinguishing features of a Jacobean Revival house is: exterior cladding rendered in stucco, brick or stone or a combination of all three, 2 1/2 storeys, cut stone or cast cement window architraves, mullions, transoms and sills. Windows are casement, with frames rendered in wood or iron, with small diamond shaped glazing held together with lead came, creating a lattice effect. The chimneys are very prominent with large chimney pots and in some cases the chimney will bisect the principal façade; semi-hexagonal bays with fortress-like battlement parapets at the roof line. The roof is usually steep with slate used for roofing material. Many times the Dutch gable is incorporated into the design with stone coping above the line of the roof.

Motawi Tileworks, recreates beautiful Arts & Crafts tiles which can be found in the fireplace surround Above.

The interiors often are laid out with odd-shaped rooms full of nooks and crannies, large four-centered (a form of a shallow arch that rises to a central point) fireplaces, beamed ceilings and rough plastered walls are the norm. Doors, interior and exterior, tend to be flat or have four-centered arched tops, made from heavy oak, mahogany or pine with rose-head nails left exposed to give decoration. Furniture and fittings are reflective of the Arts & Crafts movements of both British and the American interpretations.

Left to Right: Little Journeys Flower – Green Oak, Little Journeys Leaves – Green Oak/Wheat, Checkerpot Rose – Green Oak.

Above Left: Wall coverings and textiles are as important as the furniture we fill our houses with. A cheap wallpaper or a cheap textile is not sustainable. Designing your interior with lush rich papers and textiles will provide that certain ‘jena se qua’ that cannot be matched with bargain products that only mimic the real deal. Above Right: When considering a new kitchen, keep the cabinets in harmony with the design period. Nothing but the best materials and best craftspeople, make for a sustainable and timeless investment. Motawi Tileworks’ Frank Lloyd Wright collection.

The interiors and exteriors borrow from the post medieval, however, the similarities stop at decoration; most of these revival houses are very modern. The better houses and buildings will ever remain timeless as the durability and quality of the materials used, has led to a greater survival rate; with the buildings built for the gentry in Canada, left largely intact and original.

The elegant final touches are what make an Arts & Crafts interior! Image Above Left: The brilliant craftsmen at Evergreen Studios, handcraft copper lighting, this sample of their work is aptly named the 909 Bean Pot table lamp. Image Above Right: Art pottery is a must to fill the niches found in the Jacobean Revival style, this fine selection from Door Pottery is a perfect fit.

Remember, true sustainability is purchasing or maintaining things of good quality that will never find its way into the landfill. Choose wisely, and only choose those things that a craftsperson has put their heart and their hand into.

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