1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lethaby, William Richard

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LETHABY, WILLIAM RICHARD (1857–), English architect, was born in Barnstaple in 1857, and began his architectural training in that town. In 1879 he won the Soane travelling studentship of the R.I.B.A., and soon afterward entered the office of Norman Shaw, remaining with him for 12 years. In 1892 he started practice on his own account. Shaw’s inspiring influence, together with William Morris and Philip Webb, shaped and coloured Lethaby’s design and work. His first important building was Avon Tyrrell, Hants., for Lord Manners, followed by Melrotter, Orkney and other smaller houses. He also carried out the Eagle Insurance building in Birmingham, and a church at Brockhampton, Hereford. A keen student of the past, Lethaby covered several fields in his writings on architecture and applied art. He published in 1892 Architecture Mysticism and Myth and London before the Conquest, and in the following year Leadwork, where his subject is treated both historically and from the craftsman’s point of view. For several years he acted as editor of the series covering the whole ground of the Artistic Crafts, and for the Arts and Crafts Society wrote, later, Handicrafts and Re-construction. Concentrating on the study of Byzantine art, in 1893 he visited Constantinople, and there, in collaboration with Harold Swainson, gathered material for his book The Church of Sancta Sophia (1894). His Westminster Abbey and the King’s Craftsmen—a study of mediaeval master-masons and building methods—was largely responsible for his being appointed in 1906 surveyor to the fabric of the Abbey, and becoming responsible for its repair and conservation. Amongst Lethaby’s many other contributions to the literature dealing with the history and methods of architecture and its dependent arts are Mediaeval Art (1908), based on a study of the French cathedrals; Greek Buildings, represented by fragments in the British Museum (1908); Architecture, an introduction to the history and theory of the Art (1912); National Architecture and Modernism (1918–21) and many articles and papers in the Hibbert, the Hellenic and other journals and magazines. He was appointed in 1893 one of the two art inspectors by the then newly constituted Technical Education Board of the Council, and, with Sir G. Frampton, was responsible for the establishment of the Council’s principal technical education centre. Of this, the Central School of Arts and Crafts, he was principal from 1893 to 1911. He was professor of design at the Royal College of Art from 1900 to 1918.