The Soane Museum Study Group is an open forum for scholars – both established and emerging – to present new research into an aspect of architectural history and/or Soane’s collection.

Manolo Guerci: The Great Houses of the Strand: an overview

Based on his forthcoming book on the Great Houses of the Strand: the Ruling Elite at Home in Tudor and Jacobean London (New Haven and London, Yale University Press) this talk will provide an overview on the so-called Strand palaces, a highly significant if much neglected chapter of London’s architecture. The Strand palace phenomenon, whereby a residence close to Westminster became a must since the establishment of a permanent court at Whitehall by Henry VIII, in itself originates from the much older Bishops’ Inns, the metaphorical power houses of the high clergy built along the Strand since the 13th century. The Strand was the ‘main channel of communication’ between London’s economic heart in the City and its political centre at Westminster, while the Thames provided a public and swift connection to all royal palaces, from Greenwich to Hampton Court. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, the inns passed to the emerging political élite, which was to champion architectural conspicuous consumption by way of creating a satellite court, for royal building virtually halted after the death of Henry VIII. Between the 1540s and the 1650s, eleven palaces either replaced or incorporated the old inns, from East to West: Essex House, Arundel House, Somerset House, The Savoy, Burghley-Cecil House, Bedford House, Worcester House, Salisbury House, Durham House, York House and Northampton (later Northumberland) House. All but a couple were demolished by the end of the century.

Manolo Guerci is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Graduate Studies at the Kent School of Architecture and Planning, University of Kent. His research concentrates on Early-Modern European palaces, but he has also looked at issues related to the conservation of historic buildings, traditional Japanese architecture, and post-war social housing estates, on all of which he has published widely. Educated in Rome, London, Paris and Cambridge, he began working in France for the Monuments Historiques agency, while he has previously taught at Cambridge.

Event details

Tuesday 4 June 2019

18:00 drinks for 18:30 to 19:30 lecture

On arrival please come to No.14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The door will open at 18:00.

Image: John Thorpe (c.1563-1655), Strand elevation of Somerset House, London. © Sir John Soane’s Museum.

Event Info

04 Jun 2019

18:00 drinks
18:30 to 19:30 lecture


No.14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields