Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Kent, William from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English architect, landscape gardener, and interior designer. Working closely with Richard Burlington, he was foremost in introducing the Palladian style to Britain from Italy, excelling in richly carved, sumptuous interiors and furnishings, as at Holkham Hall, Norfolk, begun in 1734.

Immensely versatile, he also worked in a neo-Gothic style, and was a pioneer of Romantic landscape gardening, for example, the grounds of Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, and Rousham Park, Oxfordshire (1738–40). Horace Walpole called him ‘the father of modern gardening’.

Born at Bridlington, Yorkshire, Kent is said to have been apprenticed to a coach-painter in Hull. He studied in Italy from 1709 to 1719 at the expense of some wealthy patrons, and in Rome met Burlington, who brought him back to England and established him at Burlington House, Piccadilly. He designed many important buildings in London, including Devonshire House, Piccadilly (1734–35), now demolished; the Royal Mews, Charing Cross (1732), also demolished; the Horse Guards (1750–58), constructed after his death; and part of the Treasury and of Kensington Palace. He laid out many gardens in a style characterized by a studied naturalism which foreshadowed the work of Capability Brown, and it is for this work, as well as for his rich interior decoration, that he is best known.

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article Kent William (c. 1685 - 1748)
A Biographical Dictionary of Artists, Andromeda

William Kent was an English architect, painter, and landscape gardener. He is chiefly remembered as an architect, one of the...

Full text Article Kent, William (1685 - 1748)
The Bloomsbury Guide to Art

He began painting coaches, but a gentleman financed a trip to Italy in 1709. There he became a guide for wealthy Englishmen on...

Full text Article Kent, William (1685 - 1748)
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

English architect, landscape gardener, and interior designer, possibly the most famous exponent of English Palladianism ....

See more from Credo