Sir Aston Webb
Sir Aston Webb, portrait by Solomon Joseph Solomon, c. 1906
|Born||22 May 1849|
|Died||21 August 1930 (aged 81)|
Kensington, London, England
|Buildings||University of Birmingham|
Sir Aston Webb (22 May 1849 - 21 August 1930) was an English architect who designed the principal facade of Buckingham Palace and the main building of the Victoria and Albert Museum, among other major works around England, many of them in partnership with Ingress Bell. He was President of the Royal Academy from 1919 to 1924, and the founding Chairman of the London Society.
The son of a watercolourist (and former pupil of the landscape artist David Cox), Edward Webb, Aston Webb was born in Clapham, south London, on 22 May 1849 and received his initial architectural training articled in the firm of Banks and Barry from 1866 to 1871, after which he spent a year travelling in Europe and Asia. He returned to London in 1874 to set up his own practice.
From the early 1880s, he joined the Royal Institute of British Architects (1883) and began working in partnership with Ingress Bell (1836-1914). Their first major commission was a winning design for the Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham (1886), the first of numerous public building schemes the pair designed over the next 23 years. Towards the end of his career Webb was assisted by his sons, Maurice and Philip. Ralph Knott, who designed London's County Hall, began his work as an apprentice to Webb executing the drawings for his competition entries.
He served as RIBA President (1902-1904) and, having been elected as a full member of the Royal Academy in 1903, served as acting president from 1919 to 1924. He received the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1905 and was the first recipient of the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1907. He was the first chairman of the London Society in 1912.
He was knighted in 1904, appointed a Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1909; and appointed to the Royal Victorian Order as Commander in 1911, promoted to Knight Commander in 1914 and Knight Grand Cross in 1925.
In 1881 he designed North Breache Manor in Surrey. A small country house in the Tudor Gothic manner, but with Arts and Crafts detailing, it was one of the largest and most extravagant of his private contracts from this earlier period.
Webb's first major work was the restoration of the medieval St Bartholomew-the-Great in Smithfield, London. His brother Edward Alfred Webb was the churchwarden at the time, and his association with the church probably helped the young architect get the job. In London, Webb's best known works include the Queen Victoria Memorial and The Mall approach to, and the principal facade of, Buckingham Palace, which he re-designed in 1913.
Webb also designed the Victoria and Albert Museum's main building (designed 1891, opened 1909), the Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall (1893-95), and - as part of The Mall scheme - Admiralty Arch (1908-09). He also designed the Britannia Royal Naval College, Devon, where Royal Naval officers are still trained. He enlarged and sympathetically restored the perpendicular Church of St John Baptist, Claines, Worcester, finishing in 1886. Nearby he was also responsible for the new church of St. George, consecrated in 1895, which replaced an earlier smaller building in St. George's Square, Barbourne, Worcester. With his partner Ingress Bell, he extended St Andrew's Church, in Fulham Fields, London, remodelled the chancel and built the Lady Chapel.
Other educational commissions included the new buildings of Christ's Hospital in Horsham, Sussex (1893-1902), the Royal College of Science, South Kensington (1900-06), King's College, Cambridge (1908), the Royal School of Mines, South Kensington (1909-13), Royal Russell School, Coombe, Croydon, Surrey, and the Royal College of Science for Ireland which now houses the Irish Government Buildings.
Residential commissions included Nos 2 (The Gables) and 4 (Windermere) Blackheath Park, in Blackheath, south-east London. He also designed (1895-96) a library wing, including the Cedar Library, at The Hendre, a large Victorian mansion in Monmouthshire, for John Allan Rolls, first Lord Llangattock.
In March 1889 the consistory of the French Protestant Church of London commissioned (Sir) Aston Webb to design a new church. It was erected in 1891-93 at 8-9 Soho Square in London. The church is one of Aston Webb's Gothic school works.
In 1901 Aston Webb designed the headquarters for a brewery at 115 Tooley Street, London, recently converted into 14 apartments as "Aston Webb House". This was done as part of the development of More London.
At the University of Birmingham (1900-1912), the whole of the original scheme, in the Byzantine style, was the product of the Webb-Bell partnership. This consisted of a curved building with five radial blocks. The central building of Chancellor's Court containing the Great Hall is named after Aston Webb. The main feature is a large dome that sits atop the entrance loggia. The two radial blocks to each side were to be teaching blocks for various engineering disciplines; but the easternmost was not built until the Bramall Music Building was added roughly a century later. The scheme also included the straight run of buildings to the north completing the 'D' shape. Originally these were the physics and chemistry departments, and the Harding Memorial Library. The scheme was set off by the free standing clock tower ("Old Joe") over 100 metres high and the tallest structure in Birmingham until 1966.
In 1926 Sir Aston Webb designed the Chapel for Ellesmere College, Shropshire.
The London Troops war memorial, Royal Exchange, sculpture by Alfred Drury
The Hendre, Monmouthshire, Wales
Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire
Court of Final Appeal Building, Hong Kong
Deaths Sep 1914, Webb, Aston, 81, Kensington, 1a 173