Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Savage, James (1779-1852)

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SAVAGE, JAMES (1779–1852), architect, born at Hackney, London, on 10 April 1779, was articled to Daniel Asher Alexander [q. v.], the architect of the London docks, under whom he served for several years as clerk of the works. In 1798 he was admitted a student of the Royal Academy, and subsequently sent fourteen architectural subjects to the exhibitions between 1799 and 1832. His design for improving the city of Aberdeen in 1800 obtained the second premium of 150l. In 1805 he was the successful competitor for a design for rebuilding Ormond Bridge over the Liffey, Dublin, and in 1808 he furnished the design and built Richmond bridge over the same river. In 1806 he presented to the London Architectural Society, of which he was a member, an ‘Essay on Bridge Building’ (Essays of the Society, 1810, ii. 119–67). His design for a stone bridge of three arches over the Ouse at Temsford in Bedfordshire, in 1815, was accepted by the magistrates of the county. In 1819 his plans for building St. Luke's Church, Chelsea, were chosen from among forty designs. This church is remarkable for the ceiling of the nave, which consists of a groined vault of solid stone, whose lateral pressure is resisted by flying buttresses also of solid stone. His design for London Bridge in 1823 had arches constructed on the same principle as the ceiling of St. Luke's Church, and was highly commended; but the casting vote of the chairman of the committee of the House of Commons was given in favour of the plan of Sir John Rennie [q. v.] (Journal of the House of Commons, 20 June 1823, p. 411). He made a plan in 1825 for improving the river Thames, by forming on the south bank the Surrey quay, which he proposed should extend from London Bridge to Bishop's Walk, Lambeth.

Much of his practice consisted in arbitration cases and in advising on the architectural and engineering questions brought before the courts of law. In 1836 he published ‘Observations on Styles in Architecture, with Suggestions on the best Mode of procuring Designs for Public Buildings, and promoting the Improvement of Architecture, especially in reference to a Recommendation in the Report of the Commissioners on the Designs for the New Houses of Parliament.’ This pamphlet obtained an extensive circulation. In 1830 he succeeded Henry Hakewill as architect to the Society of the Middle Temple, and erected the clock-tower to their hall, Plowden Buildings, in Middle Temple Lane, and other works. In 1840, for the societies of the Inner and Middle Temple, he commenced the restoration of the Temple Church; but, a disagreement arising, the works were completed by other architects, although mainly on Savage's original designs.

Among other buildings which he designed and executed were Trinity Church, Sloane Street, 1828; St. James's Church, Bermondsey, 1827; Trinity Church, Tottenham Green, 1830; St. Mary's Church, Ilford, Essex; St. Michael's Church, Burleigh Street, Strand; St. Thomas the Martyr Church, Brentford, Essex; St. Mary's Church, Speenhamland, near Newbury, Berkshire; and St. Mary's Church, Addlestone, Chertsey, Surrey.

He was one of the oldest members of the Surveyors' Club, a member and chairman of the committee of fine arts of the Society for the Promotion of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, a member of the Graphic Society from the time of its formation in 1831, and for a short time a fellow of the Institute of British Architects.

He died at North Place, Hampstead Road, London, on 7 May 1852, and was buried at St. Luke's Church, Chelsea, on 12 May.

Besides the works mentioned he wrote, with L. N. Cottingham, ‘St. Saviour's Church, Southwark: Reasons against pulling down the Lady Chapel at the east end of St. Saviour's Church, Southwark, usually denominated the Consistorial Court,’ 1827.

[Civil Engineer and Architects' Journal, July 1852, pp. 226–7; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Dict. of Architecture, 1887, vii. 25; Gent. Mag. 1852, ii. 206–7.]

G. C. B.