Flitcroft, Henry (DNB00)

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FLITCROFT, HENRY (1697–1769), architect, son of Jeffery Flitcroft, gardener to William III at Hampton Court, and grandson of Jeffery Flitcroft of Twiss Green, Winwick, Lancashire, was born on 29 Aug. 1697, and on 6 Nov. 1711 was apprenticed to Thomas Morris, citizen and joiner of London, for seven years, being admitted to the freedom of that company on 3 Nov. 1719. It is said that Flitcroft was employed as a carpenter in the house of Richard Boyle, third earl of Burlington [q. v.], and broke his leg by falling from a scaffold; hence he attracted the notice of the earl, who employed him as draughtsman on the edition of Inigo Jones's designs, published by Kent in 1727 at the Earl of Burlington's expense; some of these drawings are in the library of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Burlington's patronage insured Flitcroft's success, and even gained the architect the nickname of ‘Burlington Harry.’ In 1726 Flitcroft was employed in the office of the board of works; he continued to be engaged as clerk of the works at Whitehall, St. James's, and Westminster, as well as at Richmond and Kew, until 20 Nov. 1746, when he was appointed master-carpenter; on 10 May 1748 he succeeded Kent as master-mason; and on 10 March 1758 he succeeded Ripley as comptroller of the works in England, which post he held until his death. In 1729 Flitcroft designed a mansion for John Baynes near Havering in Essex; in 1733 he was commissioned to make the necessary alterations in Carlton House, then recently purchased, for Frederick, prince of Wales. In 1731 he entered into a contract to pull down the old church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields and to erect a new church and steeple in its place; the new church was opened in 1734, having been erected at a cost of over 10,000l., exceeding the original estimate by about 3,000l. It is perhaps too closely copied from Gibbs's church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. In 1737–9 Flitcroft was employed in erecting the church of St. Olave, Tooley Street, Southwark, which was completed at a cost of 5,000l. About 1745 he designed the church of St. John at Hampstead. Flitcroft made considerable alterations in Wentworth House, Yorkshire, for the Marquis of Rockingham, and in Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, for the Duke of Bedford; in 1747 he designed for Mary Lepel, lady Hervey, a house in St. James's Place, looking on the Green Park, afterwards occupied by the Earl of Moira; and in 1749 he rebuilt the church at Wimpole in Cambridgeshire. Flitcroft's general repute led to his being elected sheriff of London and Middlesex in June 1745, but he paid the fine to be excused serving the office; in 1747 he paid a similar fine on being elected renter warden of the Joiners' Company. He built for himself a house at Frognal, Hampstead, called Montagu Grove, where he resided for some time. He died on 25 Feb. 1769, in his seventy-second year, and was buried at Teddington in Middlesex. In the Royal Library at the British Museum there is a volume of architectural drawings and designs by Flitcroft, executed about 1750, and dedicated to William, duke of Cumberland.

[The Dictionary of Architecture; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Cunningham's Handbook to London.]

L. C.