Hawksmoor, Nicholas (DNB00)

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HAWKSMOOR, NICHOLAS (1661–1736), architect, was born at East Drayton, or at Ragenhill, or Ragnall, in Nottinghamshire, in 1661, and became at the age of eighteen ‘the scholar and domestic clerk’ of Sir Christopher Wren. By him he was employed as ‘superviser of the erection of the palace at Winchester (23 March 1683–February 1684–5), and as deputy-surveyor at Chelsea College or Hospital (12 March 1682–90), where he received 10l. ‘for drawing designs for ye hospitall’ (Hutt, Papers, p. 42). He was appointed in 1698 clerk of the works at Greenwich Hospital at a salary of 5s. per day, and became deputy-surveyor in 1705. He was largely responsible for the construction, from the designs of Jones, Wren, and Vanbrugh, of the north-west (or Charles) block; of the opposite (or Anne) block, 1698–1728; of the south-west (or William) block, 1698–1703; of the west front, 1716–26; and of the colonnades on both sides, 1699–1728. The south-east (or Mary) block was begun in 1735 under his direction, but was not completed till 1752 (drawings in Sir John Soane's Museum, with manuscript statement of accounts to September 1727; engraved ‘Plan General of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich. N. Hawksmoor, Archt,’ in R.I.B.A. Library).

Wren, as surveyor-general of the board of works, obtained for Hawksmoor the post of clerk of the works at Kensington Palace on 25 Feb. 1690–1, and this office Hawksmoor held till 4 May 1715. Under Wren's superintendence he added the portion of the south front containing the King's Gallery and the Duchess of Kent's apartments. On 4 May 1715 he succeeded to the office of clerk of the works at Whitehall, St. James's, and Westminster, at a salary of 90l. per annum. He resigned the post 24 Sept. 1718 to become secretary to the board at 100l. per annum. He was further appointed (1726) ‘deputy comptroller’ for a few months during the illness of Sir J. Vanbrugh, and while still secretary became deputy-surveyor (June 1735). He was ‘draftsman’ to the board of works at Windsor and Greenwich at the time of his death, and was succeeded by Isaac Ware. He assisted Wren in the erection of St. Paul's Cathedral soon after its commencement (21 June 1675), and was connected with the work till its completion (1710). He finished (1713) the mansion of Easton Neston in Northamptonshire, probably under Wren, who, about 1680, erected the wings, which have since been pulled down (plan and elevation in Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus, i. 98–100). He assisted Sir J. Vanbrugh (1702–14) at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, and was at the time of his death engaged in constructing the mausoleum there from his own designs. This was the ‘earliest instance of sepulchral splendour’ in England unconnected with an ecclesiastical building (Walpole, Anecdotes, ed. Wornum and Dallaway, p. 688; engraving by H. Moses, 1812). He was also assistant-surveyor under Sir John Vanbrugh at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire (6 June 1710–15). His salary was 200l. per annum, and 100l. for riding charges (Addit. MS. 19603, with statements of irregular payments, p. 116). In the British Museum (ib. 19607) is a series of letters between Hawksmoor and Henry Joynes, ‘resident controller or clerk of the works’ at Blenheim, interesting as one of the many examples of Hawksmoor's zealous attention to details (ib. 19607, pp. 18, 26; see abstract of the letters by Wyatt Papworth in Roy. Inst. Brit. Architects' Journal, 1889–90, vi. 12–14, 44–6, 60–3). Up to June 1710 Hawksmoor, who had been ‘long out of money and at great expenses,’ had received 800l. (manuscript Account of the Money issued and expended, 13 Feb. 1704–5–2 June 1710, p. 26, in Sir John Soane's Museum).

At Oxford Hawksmoor was busily employed from an early period. In 1692 he designed the library of Queen's College, Oxford (plan and elevation in Nouveau Théâtre de la Grande Bretagne, 1724, iii. 47), the fittings for it (put up 1700–14), and the first or south quadrangle with street façade (6 Feb. 1710–59). The work is sometimes ascribed to Wren, and sometimes to the provost, Dr. Lancaster, and is said to bear a faint resemblance to the Luxembourg (engravings by Burghers and by Vertue, 1727, Skelton, Oxonia, 2 vol. edit., pl. xl.; south front in Oxford Almanack, by E. and M. Rooker, 1775, Skelton, pl. xli., Williams, Oxonia Depicta, pl. xxii. xxiii.) At Queen's College is a portfolio containing many rough drawings of suggested designs for the buildings, some of which bear considerable resemblance to the work as executed. Fourteen views were engraved by Burghers and issued with an appeal for funds, entitled ‘The present State of the new Buildings of Queen's College in Oxford,’ December 1730. The pamphlet had previously appeared in February 1718 without illustrations. Hawksmoor was the architect of the north quadrangle (except the library) at All Souls' College, erected between 1720 and 1734. The two towers have been attributed, on account of their beauty, to Wren (cf. Fergusson, Hist. of Architecture, iv. 314), but Hawksmoor seems to have designed them, and they are among the earliest examples of modern Gothic work. The exterior of the towers was restored in 1838 (plate in Oxford Almanack, 1728, by Vertue, reproduced in Skelton, pl. xlix.; plan and elevation, signed ‘N. H.,’ 1721, of the ‘Cloyster of All Souls next Radcliffe's Area in ye North Court,’ by Van der Gucht. Several copper-plates of Hawksmoor's designs by Van der Gucht, Hulsburgh, &c., apparently prepared for the ‘Oxford Almanack,’ some signed ‘N. H.’ 1717 and 1721, are in the muniment room of All Souls' College). Hawksmoor had been consulted as early as 1714 (see manuscript explanations of his designs at All Souls), when it had been the intention to pull down the whole of the old buildings. But he pleaded for the retention of all that was ‘strong and durable … in respect to antiquity as well as our present advantage’ (Letter attached to ‘explanations,’ 17 Feb. 1714–15). He also prepared for All Souls a design for a new front, next the High Street, in which were two gateways, but this was never executed (elevation in Williams, Oxonia, pl. xxxi.) About 1720 he made designs for the rebuilding of Brasenose College (plates in Williams, xxxviii.; Oxford Almanack, 1723, by Vertue and Burghers; Skelton, pl. lxv.). The drawings are still in the college, together with others for a partial rebuilding, apparently by the same hand, dated 1734. He prepared designs for the Radcliffe Library, but they were not executed, those of Gibbs being preferred. (About seventy of Hawksmoor's drawings are preserved in the Radcliffe Library Museum.). His part in the designing of the Old Clarendon Buildings (usually attributed to Vanbrugh) was no doubt considerable, and 100l. was granted by the university to ‘gratify’ Hawksmoor for the work.

In 1713 Hawksmoor surveyed and reported on Beverley Minster, then in a ruinous condition, and directed the repairs, including the screwing up of the north front of the north transept, which had inclined forward four feet beyond its base. The invention of the machinery used has sometimes been attributed to Hawksmoor (Read's Weekly Journal, or British Gazetteer, 27 March 1736; Gent. Mag. 1807, ii. 621). But it was really due to William Thornton, ‘joiner and architect,’ of York (engraving by Van der Gucht, 1716, of the west front, and a plan drawn by Hawksmoor, ‘View of North Front with the Machinery and Section of Trusses and Building,’ engraved by Fourdrinier, published 17 May 1737; ‘Section and Elevation with Machinery’ in Olivier, Beverley, p. 313).

Hawksmoor took a large part in carrying out the scheme of building fifty new churches in London at the close of Anne's reign. On the resignation of James Gibbs [q. v.] Hawksmoor, with John James [q. v.] of Greenwich, was appointed (6 Jan. 1716) surveyor of the fifty new churches. He kept the accounts of the expenditure from 1713 till 1734, and designed at least five or six of the new churches. When the roof of the old church of St. Alphage, Greenwich, fell in (28 Nov. 1710), it was decided that one of the ‘new churches’ should be built for that parish. It was erected from designs by Hawksmoor, 1711–18, and consecrated on 18 Sept. 1718 (engraving by J. Kip, 1714). The old steeple was rebuilt from designs by John James (1730). St. Anne's, Limehouse, also one of ‘the fifty,’ was built from Hawksmoor's designs (1712–24, consecrated 12 Sept. 1730), the turrets on the tower resembling those at All Souls' College. The appearance of the building from a distance has been commended (note by Dallaway, Walpole, p. 688), despite the strange combination of styles used, and Malcolm's quaint comparison of it to ‘a very large ship … under an easy sail, with a flag flying at her maintop’ (Londinium, ii. 83). The interior was destroyed by fire (29 March 1850), and restored by Philip Hardwick and John Morris between 1851 and 1854 (drawn plans, elevations, and sections in King's Library, British Museum; elevation and section by F. Whishaw, in Gent. Mag. 1828, pt. ii. p. 297; Clarke, Architectura Ecclesiastica, pl. xvi.; Maitland, London, 1756, p. 1361). The church of St. George's-in-the-East, formerly called Wapping Stepney (1715–23, consecrated 19 July 1729), has been attributed to Hawksmoor and Gibbs (Malcolm, iii. 479), but was more probably the sole work of Hawksmoor, and a specimen of his ponderous style (working drawings in King's Library, catalogued under ‘St. John's, Wapping;’ plan, elevation, section, and view of west front in {{sc|Britton} and Pugin, Public Buildings, ii. 98, &c.; Clarke, Archit. Eccles. pl. xlv.; Maitland, London, p. 1361; see Grub Street Journal, 11 July 1734, as to ‘style or mode’ in which these two churches are built). The church of St. Mary Woolnoth (1716–19) is generally considered Hawksmoor's best work, the interior being especially fine (working drawings in King's Library; plan, elevation, section, and view of interior in {{sc|Britton} and Pugin, i. 94; Clarke, pl. lxxxvii.) It was rearranged in 1875–6 by W. Butterfield. Hawksmoor's church of St. George's, Bloomsbury (1720–30, consecrated on 28 Jan. 1731), remarkable as one of the earliest of the churches with porticoes, afterwards so fashionable, has been the object of much criticism, both condemnatory (Ralph, Critical Review, pp. 161–2) and eulogistic (Penny Cyclopædia; Builder, 1846, p. 211). The steeple, intended to realise Pliny's description of the mausoleum at Halicarnassus, was described by Walpole (Anecdotes, p. 688) as ‘a masterstroke of absurdity, consisting of an obelisk crowned with the statue of Geo. I, and hugged by the royal supporters’ (plate in Clarke, xlv.; Maitland, p. 1360; Malton, London and Westminster, pl. lxxvi.) In the King's Library, British Museum, are a drawn plan and elevations of a totally different design. The church was altered in 1871 by G. E. Street, R.A., who removed the side galleries, the old pews, and the lion and unicorn at the base of the steps of the spire. Christ Church, Spitalfields (1723–1729, consecrated 5 July 1729), was probably the last of these ‘fifty churches’ built from Hawksmoor's designs (drawn plans and elevations in the King's Library; engraving of west elevation from drawing by Hawksmoor, published 1795; Clarke, pl. xxxiii.; Maitland, p. 1351). The interior, having been injured by fire, was restored by Ewan Christian, and the church reopened on 1 Jan. 1867. He made plans of the old church, and new designs for building the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields (1730), which are in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 15506). The designs by Henry Flitcroft [q. v.] were subsequently carried out.

On Wren's death in 1723, Hawksmoor was made surveyor-general of Westminster Abbey, and continued the works at the two western towers. His portion commenced about halfway up the towers, though the whole design probably originated with Wren (plate in Gent. Mag. 1751, p. 580).

He prepared plans for the rebuilding of King's College, Cambridge (1713), endeavouring to preserve the original plan of Henry VI, with its cloister and belfry. Models of the proposed work are now in the library of the college, and a rough sketch of the ground plan is in the King's Library, British Museum (see extracts from the journal and letters of the provost, Dr. Adams, in Willis and Clark, Archit. Hist. of Cambr. i. 557–9). But Hawksmoor's designs were finally rejected in favour of those of Gibbs. Hawksmoor's ‘Drawn Plans of ye Town of Cambridge as it ought to be reformed,’ and of a portion of St. John's College, Cambridge, are also in the King's Library. Hawksmoor's designs for the town hall, gates, &c., of Chester were in Vertue's possession in 1742 (Gough, Brit. Top. i. 265*).

Many of Hawksmoor's drawings have been engraved. Wren's original design for the London Monument, as well as of that actually executed (1671–7), were engraved from Hawksmoor's drawing by Hulsbergh in ‘Synopsis ædificiorum publicorum C. Wren,’ plates iii. and iv. Hawksmoor's plan of the church of St. Albans was engraved by Harris, and elevation of north front by J. Kip, 1721 (both on a reduced scale in Stevens, Monasticon, i. 233–63). His elevation and plan of All Saints' Church, Oxford, with proposals for a tower, was engraved by J. Sturt, and was issued with an appeal for funds after the fall of the spire in 1699. Hawksmoor's plans, elevation, and profile of Bow Steeple, London, were engraved from drawings now in the King's Library, British Museum, by H. Hulsbergh, for ‘The Architecture of Sir C. Wren,’ 1726. Hulsbergh also engraved Hawksmoor's plan and view of Bow Church, with the arcade fronting Cheapside, as originally intended. Two indian-ink drawings by Hawksmoor of a ‘Design for a Monument to (?) John, Duke of Marlborough,’ and ‘A Column with the Statue of Queen Anne, designed to be erected in the Strand, 1713,’ are in the print room, British Museum.

After an illness of so serious a nature as to occasion a premature announcement of his death (London Daily Post, 24 March 1736), Hawksmoor died at his house in Millbank, Westminster, on 25 March 1736, and, in accordance with a wish expressed in his will, was buried at Shenley in Hertfordshire on 3 April (Parish Register, kindly copied by the Rev. H. J. Newcome). A large stone slab with a Latin inscription to his memory is still at the east end of the churchyard. It was found underground about 1830. Hawksmoor's only child was a daughter, Elizabeth, who married in her father's lifetime, first Nicholas Philpot, ‘one of the late commissioners of the hackney coaches,’ and afterwards (9 July 1735) Nathaniel Blackerby, treasurer to the commissioners for building the fifty new churches. In his will (made 14 Jan. 1729–30) Hawksmoor left all his property, consisting of houses and land at Westminster, Highgate, Shenley, and Great Drayton, to his wife Hester (sole executrix) and her heirs. The will was proved on 9 April 1736.

Hawksmoor was well known for his evenness of temper, which was undisturbed by even ‘the most poignant pains of the gout.’ He was unassuming in his professional relations. As an architect his excellence lay rather in his attention to details and thorough knowledge of constructive principles than in creative faculty. An application, made at Vanbrugh's suggestion, to the Duchess of Marlborough, ‘in behalf of Mr. Hawksmoor … for some opportunity to do him good,’ was supported, on the ground that he was the more worthy of consideration ‘because he does not seem very solicitous to do it for himself’ (Private Correspondence of Duchess of Marlborough, i. 266). The facsimile of a letter in his usual courteous and earnest style is in ‘R.I.B.A. Journal,’ 1889–90, vi. 160. Hawksmoor was ‘perfectly skilled in the history of architecture,’ a good mathematician, a scholar of languages, and an excellent draughtsman. His influence on the designs of the chief buildings of the period was very great, and the question has arisen whether the merit of many of Vanbrugh's designs does not lie with him. It is not known how Sir John obtained an architectural education, and it is certain that Wren, Vanbrugh, and Hawksmoor were all three on the board of works together.

He wrote ‘Remarks on the Founding and Carrying on of the Buildings at Greenwich, for the perusal of Parliament, 1728’ (abstract in Wren, Parentalia, p. 328), and published ‘A Short Historical Account of London Bridge, with a Proposition for a New Stone Bridge at Westminster,’ 1736; 2nd edit. 1739. The plates drawn by Hawksmoor and engraved by B. Cole and Toms include ‘A Plan of the City of Westminster,’ with suggestions as to suitable places for a bridge; ‘Propositions for London Bridge to be altered for the Navigation under and the Safety of Passengers over it;’ and ‘Proposition for a New Bridge at Westminster.’ Charles de Labelye made from Hawksmoor's draughts a calculation to estimate the fall of the water at the intended bridge at Westminster, and some conjectures as to the probable effect on the navigation (quoted in Hawksmoor, London Bridge, p. 18).

[Authorities quoted in the text; Dict. of Architecture; Wren's Parentalia, p. 315; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Gent. Mag. 1735 p. 333, 1736 p. 233, 1828 p. 298; Walpole's Anecdotes, ed. Wornum, pp. 687, 689; Cooke and Maule's Greenwich Hospital, pp. 33, 34, 82, 142; Burrows' Worthies of All Souls, p. 394; Ingram's Memorials of Oxford, vol. iii.; Skelton's Oxonia, pp. 28, 29, 35; Wood's Hist. and Antiq. of Colleges and Halls (Gutch), pp. 278, 282; Martin's Archives of All Souls, p. 417; Willis and Clark's Architectural Hist. of Cambridge, i. 560, ii. 274, iii. 447, 534; Notes and Queries, 4th ser., viii. pp. 127–8; Malcolm's Londinium Redivivum, ii. 81–2; Britton and Pugin's Public Buildings, i. 90–4, ii. 95–8; Fergusson's Hist. of Architecture, 1873, iv. 315; Lyson's Environs, iv. 465–6; Chambers's Civil Architecture, 1862 (note by W. H. Leeds), p. 200; Historical Register, 1716 p. 111, 1718 p. 34, 1735 p. 25; Grub Street Journal, 6 March 1735, 10 July 1735; Oliver's Beverley, pp. 239, 241, 313; Allen's Lincoln, ii. 70; Proc. of Archit. Coll. of Freemasons of the Church, pt. ii. p. 60; memoir, supposed by Vertue to have been written by Nathaniel Blackerby, Hawksmoor's son-in-law, in Read's Weekly Journal, 27 March 1736; will in Somerset House; Cat. of Prints and Drawings in King's Library (Brit. Mus.); Print Room Cat. (Brit. Mus.); Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Gough's Brit. Topogr. i. 479, 480, 766*, ii. 95; Builder, 1843, pp. 226–7.]

B. P.