John Vanbrugh was born in 1664 and, after studying architecture, joined the army. While in France, Vanbrugh was arrrested as a spy and imprisoned in the infamous Bastille. After his release, he returned to Britain to take up the safer occupation of architect.

Vanbrugh specialised in the Baroque style then fashionable, and designed on a grand scale. His two most famous buildings are the magnificent Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.

Blenheim Palace was the gift of the nation to the Duke of Marlborough. The scale of the work was enormous and Vanbrugh decorated the house and its outbuildings with Doric and Corinthian columns. Vanbrugh included columns in his designs for Castle Howard in Yorkshire, where he also constructed follies in the grounds. Both buildings remain tributes to Vanbrugh's skill.

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