Montagu House, Bloomsbury

Montagu House, Bloomsbury

Montagu House, Bloomsbury

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Montagu House (sometimes spelled "Montague") was a late 17th-century mansion in Great Russell Street in the Bloomsbury district of London, which became the first home of the British Museum.

The house was actually built twice, both times for the same man, Ralph Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu. The late 17th century was Bloomsbury's most fashionable era, and Montagu purchased a site which is now in the heart of London but which then backed onto open fields (the Long Fields). His first house was designed by the English architect and scientist Robert Hooke, an architect of moderate ability whose style was influenced by French planning and Dutch detailing, and was built between 1675 and 1679. Admired by contemporaries, it had a central block and two service blocks flanking a large courtyard and featured murals by the Italian artist Antonio Verrio. The French painter Jacques Rousseau also contributed wall paintings. In 1686, the house was destroyed by fire.

The house was rebuilt to the designs of an otherwise little known Frenchman called Pouget. This Montagu House was by some margin the grandest private residence constructed in London in the last two decades of the 17th century. The main fa├žade was of seventeen bays, with a slightly projecting three bay centre and three bay ends, which abutted the service wings of the first mansion. The house was of two main storeys, plus basement and a prominent mansard roof with a dome over the centre. The planning...
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