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A Series Of Original Designs For Country Seats Or Villas; Containing Plans And Elevations, Sections Of The Principal Apartments, Ceilings, Chimney-Pieces, Capitals Of Columns, Ornaments For Friezes, And Other Interior Decorations, In The Antique Style. Comprized In LVII. Plates, With Descriptions. Designed And Engraved, In Aquatinta, By George Richardson, Architect.

George Richardson

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed For The Author, No. 105, Great Titchfield-Street; And Sold By The Principal Booksellers Of London, Edinburgh, And Dublin., MDCCXCV.

Physical Description

[ii], ii, 12 p., 57 pl.; 490 mm. (Folio).


[T.p.] - Introduction - Descriptions Of The Plates - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

All the plates are signed as designed and engraved by G. Richardson and Son (i.e. William Richardson).


RIBA, Early printed books, 3 (1999), no. 2758, p.1646-7; E. Harris and N. Savage, British Architectural Books, (1990), 743; J. Archer, Literature of British domestic architecture (1985), 283.2.
ESTC, T90833

Summary Note

This work was first published in two parts. The first part consisted of plates 1-27 and pages [1]-6 of the letter-press, and a title leaf reading 'The First Part Of A Complete System Of Architecture; Or, A Series Of Original Designs For Country Seats Or Villas ... On XXVII Plates ... By George Richardson ... Printed For The Author ... And Sold By Mr. George Nicol ... MDCCXCIV' (see ESTC n009775). The work was advertised in 1793 as to be in four parts, each subdivided into three. In fact the first part falls into three groups - plates 1-9 dated 1 November 1793, 10-18 5 November 1793, and 19-27 1 January 1794 - but the work was completed with the publication of the second part in 1795, consisting of plates 28-57, pages 7-12 of the letter-press, the introduction and the new title leaf.

The plates show plans, elevations and sections of Richardson's own designs for large and small country houses.

Allowing that utility and convenience are important in designing a house, Richardson writes that there nevertheless remains scope for invention in the 'connection of the several apartments' and in interior and exterior finishing. His interiors draw on the 'villas of the ancients, namely at Rome, Adrian's Villa and the ruins on the Baian shore'. His simpler exterior style relies on relieving arches and pilasters to animate the façade, although in his larger houses there is bolder articulation and 'movement'.


An electronic reproduction was published in 2003 (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale). A microfilm version was published in 1986 (Woodbridge CT: Research Publications).


12 August 1797: 'Resolved, That Messrs Richardson's Two Books, sent to the President & Council, viz: A Series of Original Designs of Country Seats, &c. And, New Designs of Vases, & Tripods, &c. be purchased for the Use of the Academy. And also, that the Academy do subscribe for his new Work in Architecture', i.e. The new Vitruvius Britannicus, [1796-] 1802. (RA Council Minutes II, 329).

'Richardson paid £5.12.6 for books.' (RA Treasurer's Account Book, Midsummer Quarter, 1798).

Binding Note

19th-century half morocco, green cloth-covered boards; spine lettered 'R.A. 1795', red morocco spine-label lettered 'Richardson's Country Seats & Villas'.


Architecture, British - Interior decoration - Country houses - Villas - Great Britain - History - 18th century - Neoclassical
Plans - Elevations - Sections - Designs - Pattern books - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century


William Richardson, draughtsman, engraver
George Richardson, publisher, draughtsman, engraver