Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parke, Henry

PARKE, HENRY (1792?–1835), architect, born about 1792, was a son of John Parke [q. v.], the oboist. Henry was intended for the bar, and studied under a special pleader; but, owing to his indistinct utterance, he abandoned law, and, after vaguely considering many other pursuits, studied architecture. His father placed him with Sir John Soane, R.A. [q. v.]; and some of the finest drawings exhibited during Soane's lectures on architecture at the Royal Academy were made by Parke. These are still in the Soane Museum, along with many others of his drawings while a pupil. He became well versed in mathematics, geometry, mechanics, and drawing, both architectural and landscape.

Between 1820 and 1824 he visited Italy, Sicily, Genoa, Greece, and Egypt, ascending the Nile in 1824 with a fellow-student, John Joseph Scoles. In 1829 he published a ‘Map of Nubia, comprising the Country between the First and Second Cataracts of the Nile,’ and gave a plan of the island of Philæ, with its several measurements. This map is now rare, and is very valuable, as it indicates the positions of all the temples, rock-cut tombs, and other buildings on the banks of the river.

At Rome and elsewhere he worked with Catherwood, T. L. Donaldson, and others, laboriously measuring antique remains, as well as more modern works by the best architects. On returning to England, at the end of 1824, he worked out his sketches. He continued making drawings and views of buildings and ruins, and a valuable collection of between five and six hundred, including a few near Dover, was presented to the Royal Institute of British Architects by his widow (Report, 1836, p. xxviii). The institute also possesses a sketch by him of a sextant capable of taking an angle of 18° (dated 1826); and another of an instrument to measure angles, internal and external, for purposes of taking architectural plans, dated 1833. Some drawings of Pompeii are in the library at South Kensington. He exhibited at the Royal Academy drawings of an ‘Interior of a Sepulchral Chamber,’ 1830, and ‘Temples in the Island of Philæ,’ 1831; designed a house in Queen Square, Westminster, facing on St. James's Park, and is said to have largely designed the medal presented by some architects of Great Britain to Sir John Soane; from the die of this medal the Soane medallion prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects is annually reproduced (Gent. Mag. 1835, ii. 325, 670). Parke died 5 May 1835, aged about 43.

Many of his oil and water-colour drawings and marine works were sold at Sotheby's by auction in May 1836.

[Memoir by T. L. Donaldson in Dictionary of Architecture of the Architectural Publication Society; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Gent. Mag. as above.]

W. P.-h.