Ripley, Thomas

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Ripley, Thomas (c.1683–1758). English carpenter, he succeeded Vanbrugh, no less, as Comptroller of the Works (1726). His meteoric rise was due to the patronage of Sir Robert Walpole (1676–1745), whose seat, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, Ripley constructed according to Campbell's and Kent's designs (1722–5). He also acquired the Surveyorships of Greenwich Hospital (1729) and the King's Private Roads (1737), which, for one so untalented, was remarkable. His architecture was unloved by his contemporaries, and has not risen much in estimation since. In particular, his portico for the Admiralty, Whitehall, London (1723–6), earned him well-deserved opprobrium, and occasioned the building of a colonnaded screen to Robert Adam's design (1760) to hide it. Wolterton Hall, Norfolk (1727–41), however, was not an ungainly house, suggesting that something of Palladian grace had rubbed off on him after his work at Houghton. Pope thought Ripley a model of ‘Dulness’ compared with Burlington, Jones, and Wren, while Vanbrugh laughed so much when he came across Ripley's name in the public prints that he ‘had like to Beshit’ himself.

Bibliography

Colvin (1995);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)