Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Morris, Robert

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1338224Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39 — Morris, Robert1894Bertha Porter

MORRIS, ROBERT (fl. 1754), architect, is described as 'of Twickenham ' on the title-page of his 'Essay in Defence of Ancient Architecture,' published in 1728. He received his instruction in architecture in the service of his 'kinsman,' Roger Morris, 'Carpenter and principal engineer to the Board of Ordnance,' who died on 31 Jan. 1749 (London Magazine, 1749, p. 96).

The earliest executed work ascribed to Morris is Inverary Castle (Gothic), begun in 1745, and after considerable delay completed in 1761. It seems probable that Roger Morris was concerned in the design, and that the building was erected after his death under the supervision of his pupil Robert. The central tower was destroyed by fire on 12 Oct. 1877, and restored in 1880. With S. Wright, Morris erected for George II the central portion of the lodge in Richmond Park, the design of which is sometimes attributed to Thomas Herbert, tenth earl of Pembroke [q. v.] The wings were added in later years. About 1750 he repaired and modernised for G. Bubb Dodington (afterwards Lord Melcombe) [q. v.] the house at Hammersmith afterwards known as Brandenburgh House. It was pulled down in 1822, and a house of the same name was afterwards built in the grounds, but not on the same site. Morris also erected Coomb Bank, Kent, and Wimbledon House, Surrey. In the design of the latter he was probably associated with the Earl of Burlington. The house was destroyed by fire in 1785; the offices were subsequently used as a residence until 1801, when the new house designed by Henry Holland (1746?–1806) [q. v.] was completed. With the Earl of Burlington Morris designed, about 1750, Kirby Hall, Yorkshire, in the interior of which John Carr of York [q. v.] was employed. The plans are said to have been suggested by the owner, S. Thompson. In 173(5 he erected a bridge (after a design of Palladio) in the grounds of Wilton in Wiltshire.

He published: 1. 'An Essay in Defence of Ancient Architecture,' London, 1728. 2. 'Lectures on Architecture,' London, 1734; 2nd pt. 1736; 2nd edit, of pt. i. 1759. The lectures were delivered between 22 Oct. 1730 and 13 Jan. 1734-5 before a 'Society for the Improvement of Knowledge in Arts and Sciences,' established by Morris himself. Part ii. is dedicated to Roger Morris, to whom he acknowledges obligations. 3. 'Rural Architecture,' London, 1750 (at which time Morris was residing in Hyde Park Street). 4. 'The Architectural Remembrancer,' London, 1751. 5. 'Architecture Improved,' London, 1755. 6. 'Select Architecture,' London, 1755, 1759. Morris was also part author of 'The Modern Builder's Assistant,' with T. Lightoler and John and William Half-penny [q. v.], London, 1742, 1757. 'An Essay on Harmony,' London, 1739, ascribed (with a query) to Morris by Halkett and Laing (Dict. Anon, and Pseudon. Lit.), was more probably by John Gwynn [q. v.] It is included in a list of Gwynn's works in an advertisement at the end of his 'Qualifications and Duty of a Surveyor.' Morris drew the plates for several of his own works.

[Dict. of Architecture; Builder, 1875, pp. 881-2; Morris's Works (in Brit. Museum and Soane Museum); Thorne's Environs of London, p. 276; Bartlett's Wimbledon, p. 69. For plans, elevations, and views of executed works, see Adams's Vitruvius Scoticus, plates 71-4, and Neale's Seats, 1st ser. vol. vi. 1823, for Inverary Castle; Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus (edit. Woolfe and Gandon), vol. iv. plates 1-3, for Lodge in Richmond Park; ib. vol. iv. plates 26-7, and Lysons's Environs, ii. p. 402, for Brandenburgh House; Campbell, vol. iv. plates 75-7, engravings by Woolletr, and W. Angus, 1787, for Coomb Bank; ib. vol. v. plates 20-2, for Wimbledon House; ib. vol. v. plates 70-1, and engraving by Basire for Kirby Hall; Campbell, ib. vol. v. plates 88-9, engraving by Fourdrinier (drawn by Morris), by E. White (drawn by J. Rocque), another by Eocque in 1754, Watts's Seats, lxxxii. (from a picture by E. Wilson), for bridge at Wilton.]

B. P.