Sir Robert Smirke and Sydney Smirke in CumbriaRobert Smirke (1781-1867) was born in London. His father (1752-1845), also Robert, was a historical painter and book illustrator, from Wigton in West Cumbria.
He was a leading architect of the Greek Revival, and had a large London practice, much of which was concerned with public buildings.
Although his domestic architecture was Gothic Revival, he is best known for his Neo-Classical public buildings, such as the British Museum (1823-1847), and the Covent Garden Theatre, both in London.
Lowther Castle was his first job, in 1806, when he was just 25, followed by Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, both in the medieval style.
Together with John Nash and Sir John Soane, he became official architect to the Office of Works. He advised the Parlimentary Commissioners on the building of new Churches from 1818 onwards, contributing four himself. He designed many buildings outside London, examples being the Shire Halls of Gloucester, Shrewsbury and Hereford. He was knighted in 1832, and received the RIBA Gold Medal for Architecture in 1853.
He died in Cheltenham on April 18th 1867.
|Crosby Ravensworth – St Lawrence’s Church||1806-1811|
|Carlisle Assizes (the Citadel)||1810-1811|
|Whitehaven Market Hall||1814|
|Cockermouth – Hames Hall|
|Carlisle – Eden Bridge||1815|
|Edenhall – Edenhall Mansion||1824|
|Hayton – Edmond Castle||1824-1829|
|Askham – St Peter’s Church||1832|
(Whitehaven Market Hall was replaced in 1881 with a design by TL Banks).
(Edenhall is now demolished).
Sydney Smirke (1798-1877) was Robert Smirke’s younger brother and pupil. He is best known for the circular reading room at the British Museum (1854-1857). Other work includes Burlington House, home of the Royal Academy (1868), the Imperial War Museum (1838), the Carlton Club in Pall Mall (1845), all in London, Brookwood Cemetary (1854), and the nave roof of York Minster (1841).He also received the RIBA Gold Medal (in 1860) and was professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy from 1861-5.
|Whitehaven – Wellington Pit Surface Buildings||1840|
|Whitehaven – 19-20 Irish St|
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