Classical architecture

Doric column capitals on the porchway of the White Hart Inn, Buckingham


Classical means Roman or Greek architecture. There are three main periods of architecture in Ancient Greece and Rome: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. These three terms describe the tops (capitals) of columns used in temples, houses and gardens. Doric capitals are very plain at the top; Ionic capitals have scrolls at each side and Corinthian capitals are carved in the shape of leaves (this is described in more detail on the Looking at Buildings website). This following exercise involves interrogating Buckinghamshire's Heritage Portal database. You will find the blank maps of Buckinghamshire attached to this page in A4 and A3 format.


Do a simple search using the word classical on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal.

  • What period are most of the monuments that you find?
  • What types of site are they?
  • Where are they?

Plot them on a blank map of Buckinghamshire.

Many buildings are just described as Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Search for these terms on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal.

How many more sites can you find?


Close-up of the Palladian Bridge with Ionic capitals in Stowe landscape gardensThe uncovering of archaeological remains in Italy and Greece in the 18th and 19th centuries led to this classical fashion in architecture. Sites like Pompeii and Herculaneum were uncovered during this period. Carlo Fea excavated the Great Forum and Pantheon in Rome, and Ostia just outside Rome, in the nineteenth century. There is an article on the discovery and excavation of Pompeii on the BBC History website. By looking at World Heritage Sites on in Italy and Greece you can compare the pictures of sites in Buckinghamshire with the sites they were based on and note the differences and similarities. Look especially for Rome, Pompeii, the Villa Romana del Casale, the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi, and the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae. Looking at these sites could lead to a discussion about antiquities from other countries in British museums and whether they should be given back.


Detail of a Corinthian column capital on a doorway of a house on Temple Street, AylesburyMany garden temples were constructed and dedicated to Roman and Greek gods and goddesses or heroes and heroines of myth and legend. There are many temples in Stowe Landscaped Gardens. You could ask your pupils to search the monuments in these gardens and find out which figures of Roman and Greek myths have temples dedicated to them. For instance, Queen Dido’s cave at Stowe is named after Dido, Queen of Carthage, a great city in what is now Tunisia in North Africa. There is information and images about Stowe Landscaped Gardens on the National Trust website.


Click here for more ideas for Putting Buckinghamshire in context.