Nicholas Hawksmoor

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Nicholas Hawksmoor

Birthdate: (75)
Birthplace: Nottinghamshire, England
Death: March 24, 1736 (75)
Millbank, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Place of Burial: Shenley, Hertfordshire, England
Occupation: Architect
Managed by: Eldon Clark (C)
Last Updated:

About Nicholas Hawksmoor

Find a Grave

Birth: 1661

Death: Mar. 24, 1736

Architect, originally assistant to Sir Christopher Wren and himself the designer of some of London's finest churches, and of the West towers of Westminster Abbey. Also the subject of an unusual novel by Peter Ackroyd. The letters PMSL on his tomb have not been adequately expelained. (bio by: Find A Grave)

Burial: Former Churchyard of Saint Botolph Shenley Hertfordshire, England

Maintained by: Find A Grave Originally Created by: David Conway

From Wikipedia

Nicholas Hawksmoor (probably 1661 – 25 March 1736) was a British architect born in Nottinghamshire, probably in East Drayton or Ragnall. Contents Life

Hawksmoor was born in Nottinghamshire in 1661, into a yeoman farming family, almost certainly in East Drayton or Ragnall, Nottinghamshire. On his death he was to leave property at nearby Ragnall, Dunham and a house and land at Great Drayton. It is not known where he received his schooling, but it was probably in more than basic literacy. George Vertue, whose family had property in Hawksmoor's part of Nottingham shire, wrote in 1731 that he was taken as a youth to act as clerk by 'Justice Mellust in Yorkshire, where Mr Gouge senior did some fretwork ceilings afterwards Mr. Haukesmore [sic] came to London, became clerk to Sr. Christopher Wren & thence became an Architect'.

Wren who hearing of his 'early skill and genius' for architecture, took him as his clerk at about the age of 18. His early drawings in a sketch-book, containing sketches and notes some dated 1680 and 1683, of buildings in Nottingham, Coventry, Warwick, Bath, Bristol, Oxford and Northampton. His somewhat amateur drawings, now in the Royal Institute of British Architects Drawings Collection, shows that he was still learning the techniques of his new profession at the age of 22. His first official post was as Deputy Surveyor to Wren at the Winchester Palace from 1683 until February 1685. Hawksmoor's signature appears on a brickmaker's contract for Winchester Palace in November 1684. Wren was paying him 2 shillings a day in 1685 as assistant in his office in Whitehall.

From about 1684 to about 1700, Hawksmoor worked with Christopher Wren on projects including Chelsea Hospital, St. Paul's Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace and Greenwich Hospital. Thanks to Wren's influence as Surveyor-General, Hawksmoor was named Clerk of the Works at Kensington Palace (1689) and Deputy Surveyor of Works at Greenwich (1705). In 1718, when Wren was superseded by the new, amateur Surveyor, William Benson, Hawksmoor was deprived of his double post to provide places for Benson's brother. "Poor Hawksmoor," wrote Vanbrugh in 1721. "What a Barbarous Age have his fine, ingenious Parts fallen into. What wou'd Monsr: Colbert in France have given for such a man?" Only in 1726 after William Benson's successor Hewett died, Hawksmoor was restored to secretaryship, though not the Clerkship of the works - this post was given to Filtcroft. In 1696, Hawksmoor was appointed surveyor to the Commissioners of Sewers for Westminster, but was dismissed in 1700, ' having neglected' to attend the Court several days last past'.

He then worked for a time with Sir John Vanbrugh, helping him build Blenheim Palace for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, where he took charge from 1705, after Vanbrugh's final break with the demanding Duchess of Marlborough, and Castle Howard for Charles Howard, later the 3rd Earl of Carlisle. In July 1721 John Vanbrugh made Hawksmoor his deputy as Comptroller of the Works. There is no doubt that Hawksmoor brought to the brilliant amateur the professional grounding he had received from Wren, but it is also arguable that Wren's architectural development was from the persuasion of his formal pupil, Hawksmoor.

By 1700, Hawksmoor emerged with a major architectural personality, and in the next 20 years he proved himself to be one of the great masters of the English Baroque. His baroque, but somewhat classical and gothic architectural form was derived from his exploration of Antiquity, the Renaissance, the English Middle Ages and contemporary Italian baroque. Unlike many of his wealthier contemporaries, Hawksmoor never travelled to Italy on a Grand Tour, where he might have been influenced by the style of architecture there. Instead he studied engravings especially monuments of ancient Rome and reconstructions of the Temple of Solomon.

In 1702, Hawksmoor designed the baroque country house of Easton Neston in Northamptonshire for Sir William Fermor. This is the only country house for which he was the sole architect, though he extensively remodelled Ockham House, now mostly destroyed, for the Lord Chief Justice King). Easton Neston was not completed as he intended, the symmetrical flanking wings and entrance colonnade, very much in the style of John Vanbrugh, remaining unexecuted.

As he neared the age of 50, his creativeness was received by two universities, Oxford and Cambridge. In 1713, Hawksmoor was commissioned to complete King's College, Cambridge: the scheme consisted of a Fellows' Building along King's Parade, and opposite the Chapel a monumental range of buildings containing the Great Hall, kitchens and to the south of that the library and Provost's Lodge. Wooden models and plans of the scheme survive, but it proved too expensive and Hawksmoor produced a second scaled down design. But the college that had invested heavily in the South Sea Company lost their money when the 'bubble' burst in 1720. The result was that Hawksmoor's scheme would never be executed, the college was finished later in the 18th century by James Gibbs and early in the 19th century by William Wilkins. In 1690s, Hawksmoor gave proposals for the library of the Queen's College, Oxford. However like many of his proposals for both universities, such as All Souls College, The Radcliffe Library, Brasenose College, Magdalen College Oxford, was not executed.

After the death of Wren in 1723, Hawksmoor was appointed Surveyor to Westminster Abbey. This post received 100 pounds voted by Parliament for the repair and completion of the Abbey in 1698. The west towers of the Abbey were designed by Hawksmoor but was not completed until after his death.

Hawksmoor conceived grand rebuilding schemes for central Oxford, most of which were not realised. The idea was for a round library for the Radcliffe Camera but that commission went to James Gibbs. He did design the Clarendon Building at Oxford; the Codrington Library and new buildings at All Souls College, Oxford; parts of Worcester College, Oxford with Sir George Clarke; the High Street screen at The Queen's College, Oxford and six new churches in London.

In 1711, parliament passed an Act for the building of Fifty New Churches in the Cities of London and Westminster or the Suburbs thereof,[5] which established a commission which included Christopher Wren, John Vanburgh, Thomas Archer and a number of churchmen. It appointed Hawksmoor and William Dickinson as its surveyors. As supervising architects they were not necessarily expected to design all the churches themselves. Dickinson left his post in 1713 and was replaced by James Gibbs. Gibbs was removed from his post in 1716 and replaced by John James. James and Hawksmoor remained in office until the commission was wound up in 1733. The declining enthusiasm of the Commission, and the expense of the buildings, meant that only twelve churches were completed, six designed by Hawksmoor, and two by James in collaboration with Hawksmoor. The two collaborations were St Luke Old Street (1727–33) and St John Horsleydown (1727–33), to which Hawksmoor's contribution seems to have been largely confined to the towers with their extraordinary steeples. The six churches wholly designed by Hawksmoor are his best-known independent works of architecture. They compare in their complexity of interpenetrating internal spaces with contemporaneous work in Italy by Francesco Borromini. Their spires, are essentially Gothic outlines executed in innovative and imaginative Classical detail. Although Hawksmoor and John James terminated the commission by 1733, they were still being paid "for carrying on and finishing the works under their care" until James's death. The six churches:

St Alfege's Church, Greenwich,  St George's Church, Bloomsbury, Christ Church, Spitalfields, St George in the East, Wapping, St Mary Woolnoth, and St Anne's Limehouse
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Nicholas Hawksmoor's Timeline

Nottinghamshire, England
March 24, 1736
Age 75
Greater London, England
Shenley, Hertfordshire, England