Keene, Henry (1726-1776) (DNB00)

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KEENE, HENRY (1726–1776), architect, born 15 Nov. 1726, was son of Henry Keene, by his wife, Elizabeth Elkins. He was bred to the profession of architecture. From 1750 he appears to have been employed at Magdalen College, Oxford, probably under Holdsworth. In 1769 Keene designed the buildings at the south-west corner of Balliol College. He was also employed at Worcester College, where he is said to have completed the additional buildings on the west side of the quadrangle, originally planned and designed by Dr. Clarke, and also the provost's lodgings. He designed the Radcliffe Infirmary at Oxford from the model of a similar building at Gloucester, as well as the Radcliffe Observatory, of which the first stone was laid 27 June 1772. The observatory was to have been 170 feet in height, but was unfinished at Keene's death, and the work was for some time suspended, being ultimately completed by Wyatt in 1795 on a new elevation, prepared by Keene, but unapplied before his death (Dallaway, Observations on English Architecture, p. 159). In 1775 Keene designed, in his capacity of surveyor to the dean and chapter, fittings for the choir of Westminster Abbey, contrived so as to be removable on public occasions when an exceptionally large number of persons would be present. He invested his money in house property in Golden Square, London, where he had a town residence. His country seat was at Drayton Green, Ealing, where he died on 8 Jan. 1776. In 1762 Keene married Anne, daughter of M. Desvalles or Deval, a French Huguenot refugee, by whom he had a numerous offspring, though only two children survived him, a daughter and a son, Thomas. The daughter became the wife of William Parry, Welsh harper to George III; and the son married Jane, sister of the first Lord Harris [q. v.], and was father of Henry George Keene [q. v.]

[Family papers; Ingram's Memorials of Oxford; Ackerman's Oxford Colleges, p. 240; information kindly supplied by Mr. T. G. Jackson, M.A.]

H. G. K.