This is a stub in Soulton's History.
Our square building: Vitruvian Principles?
When Sir Rowland Hill had the new manor house built at Soulton, he encased any external traces of the old medieval hall in his new brick building.
Elizabethan art, writing and building was ripe with symbolism and mathematics: consider Shakespeare’s Sonnets, or Holbein's The Ambassadors.
This new brick hall -- the one we see today -- is an almost perfect 40 foot cube.
It contains obvious symbols from its time, such as Tudor roses, pomegranets, flowers, some butterflyes and insects, as well as some more obscure marks from stone masons and carpenters.
The inescapable feature of the house though is its cubic form.
A recent guest, with expertise in this topic has suggested that this is an early Tudor “getting to grips with” Vitruviuian principles of harmony and proportion which were being rediscovered in the 1500s, and would be mainstream by time classical ideas had been fully re-embraced by, for example Nash and Robert Adam. Certainly the cube and the double cube are paradigms in neo-classical building.
The relevant parts of Vitruvius would be in Book III of his De Architectura:"Without symmetry and proportion there can be no principles in the design of any temple; that is, if there is no precise relation between its members, as in the case of those of a well shaped man.. . . if a man be placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centered at his navel . . . the fingers and toes of his two hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom. And just as the human body yields a circular outline, so too a square figure may be found from it. For if we measure the distance from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, and then apply that measure to the outstretched arms, the breadth will be found to be the same as the height . . ."
And earlier he notes:“A cube is a body with sides all of equal breadth and their surfaces perfectly square. When thrown down, it stands firm and steady so long as it is untouched, no matter on which of its sides it has fallen, like the dice which players throw on the board”
Given that Rowland Hill fled London in the midst of the turmoil of the counter-Reformation, the stability referred to in being “steady so long as it is untouched, no matter on which of its sides it has fallen” would have been appealing.
It is impossible to say with any certainty whether this is the case, but what is clear is that the “square house” is symbolic and very deliberate.
Click here to find out more about a possible link with the place the US Declaration of Independence was drafted.
For further reading on this topic generally, please see this artilce from Dartmouth College.