James Burton (Haliburton)

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James Haliburton

Also Known As: "Haliburton"
Birthplace: London, England
Death: Died in East Sussex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of William Haliburton and Mary Haliburton
Husband of Elizabeth Burton
Father of William Ford Burton; Emma Elizabeth Haliburton; Eliza Haliburton; James Haliburton; Emily Burton and 11 others

Managed by: Private User
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About James Burton (Haliburton)

James Burton [1761-1837] was probably the most significant builder of Georgian London, responsible for large areas of Bloomsbury, as well as St. Johns Wood and Clapham Common. He also collaborated with John Nash at Regents Park. In 1828 he started building a new seaside town at St. Leonards on the Sussex coast near Hastings, based closely on his experiences at Regents Park. Although primarily a builder, James Burton designed many of his own works, particularly at St. Leonards.

James Burton was born in London, the son of a Scottish builder who shared a common ancestor with Sir Walter Scott. His original surname was Haliburton which was shortened to Burton in the 1790s after a family dispute.

After being articled for 6 years to the surveyor, Mr. Dalton, Burton set up on his own and worked on bridewells at Reading, Winchester, Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

In 1786 Burton was commissioned to build the Leverian Museum in High Holborn and went on to contract for small scale housing developments in the City of London and around Clapham Common. In 1791 he began work on the Veterinary College and started his first major building project, the development of the Foundling Hospital Estate around Brunswick Square. Between 1792 and 1823 he developed five further estates stretching from Bloomsbury to St. Johns Wood.

In 1804 Burton acquired as a family home, Quarry Hill near Tonbridge in Kent. He re-named the house Mabledon and had it re-modelled in the Gothic style. In 1811 he set up the nearby Ramhurst mills to provide gunpowder for the Napoleonic wars. The business was run in partnership with his eldest son, William until 1824.

In 1815 James Burton was approached by John Nash who was experiencing financial difficulties in carrying out his plan to link Carlton House with the newly created Regents Park. Burton agreed to build the remainder of Regents Street and took the prime site in Regents Park for his own family villa, The Holme. This was completed in 1818 to a design by his 18 year old son, Decimus.

The grateful Nash then invited James Burton to build some of the terraces around Regents Park and commissioned Decimus, now in his early 20s, as the architect of Cornwall and then Clarence Terrace. Decimus went on to design seven further villas in Regents Park. A number of the Hastings drawings relate to these schemes, with early designs for The Holme and Albany and Grove Lodges

In 1823 Decimus designed for the outer circle of the Park the grandiose Colosseum, a circular building which housed a panorama of London painted from the dome of St. Pauls by the artist Thomas Horner. This ambitious project was financially unsuccessful and was pulled down in 1875.

He was also involved with the layout, and design of the animal houses, at London Zoo which opened in 1828 at the northern end of the Park. Many of the buildings were constructed in the cottage orne style fashionable for garden structures. Decimus’ last project in Regents Park was the creation of the Royal Botanic Gardens in association with Curator, Richard Marnock, in 1840. This included a conservatory built with the engineer, Richard Turner of Dublin who was also working with Burton at Kew.

While James Burton was working on Chester Terrace in London in 1827 he conceived his scheme for a seaside resort. The original plans, now in the Hastings Museum, take no account of the coastline at St. Leonards and may not have been drawn up with a location in mind. In the end they had to be adapted to fit the topography of the area.

By late 1827 Burton had decided on St. Leonards and negotiated with the trustees of the Eversfield Estate for a section of Gensing Farm. In February 1828 the Sussex Weekly Advertiser announced the start of building. The land purchased consisted of a coastal strip stretching for about three quarters of a mile and at its centre half a mile inland up a wooded valley known as the Old Woman’s Tap Shaw.

James Burton’s concept for St.Leonards was strongly influenced by his involvement with Nash in Regents Park. He copied with care the grand, classical style of Nash’s terraces, the provision of service areas, public buildings for entertainment and the picturesque siting of villas amongst the groves, wooded slopes and water of the Subscripton Gardens.

By the end of 1828 Burton had built his own house, West Villa, in addition to the South Collonade on the sea side of the road and the entrance archway. In 1829 a prospectus was issued showing the type of accommodation and services that would be available and by 1832 most of the terraces, villas and public buildings were complete.


[/www.publicsculpturesofsussex.co.uk/object?id=44 Pyramid Memorial Tomb, West Hill Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea]


St. Leonards-on-Sea - The Beginning and James Burton

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James Burton (Haliburton)'s Timeline

July 29, 1761
London, England
January 11, 1784
Age 22
London, England
August 4, 1785
Age 24
London, England
September 29, 1786
Age 25
London, England
Age 26
London, England
August 10, 1791
Age 30
London, England
April 4, 1792
Age 30
London, England
July 27, 1794
Age 32
London, England
February 20, 1796
Age 34
London, England