William Burges

English Gothic revival architect and designer (1827–1881) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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William Burges ARA (/ˈbɜːɛs/; 2 December 1827 – 20 April 1881) was an English architect and designer. Among the greatest of the Victorian art-architects, he sought in his work to escape from both nineteenth-century industrialisation and the Neoclassical architectural style and re-establish the architectural and social values of a utopian medieval England. Burges stands within the tradition of the Gothic Revival, his works echoing those of the Pre-Raphaelites and heralding those of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Quick facts: William Burges ARA, Born, Died, Alma mat...
William Burges

Born(1827-12-02)2 December 1827
Died20 April 1881(1881-04-20) (aged 53)
The Tower House, Kensington, London, England
Alma materKing's College School
King's College London
ParentAlfred Burges

Burges's career was short but illustrious; he won his first major commission for Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork in 1863 when he was 35. He died in 1881 at his Kensington home, The Tower House aged only 53. His architectural output was small but varied. Working with a long-standing team of craftsmen, he built churches, a cathedral, a warehouse, a university, a school, houses and castles.

Burges's most notable works are Cardiff Castle, constructed between 1866 and 1928, and Castell Coch (1872–91), both of which were built for John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute. Other significant buildings include Gayhurst House, Buckinghamshire (1858–65), Knightshayes Court (1867–74), the Church of Christ the Consoler (1870–76), St Mary's, Studley Royal (1870–78), in Yorkshire, and Park House, Cardiff (1871–80).

Many of his designs were never executed or were subsequently demolished or altered. His competition entries for cathedrals at Lille (1854), Adelaide (1856), Colombo, Brisbane (1859), Edinburgh (1873), and Truro (1878) were all unsuccessful. He lost out to George Edmund Street in the competition for the Royal Courts of Justice (1866–67) in The Strand. His plans for the redecoration of the interior of St Paul's Cathedral (1870–77) were abandoned and he was dismissed from his post. Skilbeck's Warehouse (1865–66) was demolished in the 1970s, and work at Salisbury Cathedral (1855–59), Worcester College, Oxford (1873–79), and at Knightshayes Court had been lost in the decades before.

Beyond architecture, Burges designed metalwork, sculpture, jewellery, furniture and stained glass. Art Applied to Industry, a series of lectures he gave to the Society of Arts in 1864, illustrates the breadth of his interests; the topics covered including glass, pottery, brass and iron, gold and silver, furniture, the weaver's art and external architectural decoration. For most of the century following his death, Victorian architecture was neither the subject of intensive study nor sympathetic attention and Burges's work was largely ignored. The revival of interest in Victorian art, architecture, and design in the later twentieth century led to a renewed appreciation of Burges and his work.

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