Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Porden, William

PORDEN, WILLIAM (1755–1822), architect, born in 1755 at Hull, was grandson of Roger Pourden, an architect of York. His early taste for the arts procured him the notice of the poet Mason, who introduced him to James Wyatt [q. v.] After studying architecture in Wyatt's office, he became the pupil of Samuel Pepys Cockerell [q. v.] On leaving the latter he was made secretary to Lord Sheffield, and by him appointed paymaster to the 22nd dragoons; but, on the reduction of this regiment soon afterwards, he resumed his former studies. In 1778 he exhibited designs for a Gothic church at the Royal Academy, where his work continued to be seen at intervals. In 1785–6 Porden was chosen to make the necessary fittings in Westminster Abbey for the Handel festival. He was also employed by the parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, and was surveyor of Lord Grosvenor's London estates. From 1790 onwards he designed a number of churches and mansions in various parts of England.

In 1804 Porden began his most important work, Eaton Hall in Cheshire for Lord Grosvenor—a palace of celebrated, if somewhat too florid, magnificence. This work occupied him till 1812. He was assisted, first by his son-in-law, Joseph Kay, and later, by B. Gummow, who built the wings in 1823–5. Besides the superintendence of the works at Eaton, he was busy with several other buildings, chiefly at Brighton, where he erected, in 1805, stables, riding-house, and tennis-court for the Prince of Wales's Pavilion; adding, during the two following years, the west front and entrance hall. In 1808 he designed Broom Hall, Fifeshire, and Eccleston church, near Chester, in 1809 and 1813. He died on 14 Sept. 1822, and was buried in St. John's Wood chapel. According to Redgrave, his end was hastened by annoyance at being superseded two years before in his employment as architect to Lord Grosvenor, to whom his work did not give entire satisfaction. Extensive alterations and additions have been made to Eaton Hall since his time.

Porden had a numerous family, all of whom died young, except two daughters; the elder of these married, in 1807, Joseph Kay (1775–1847), the architect of the new post office in Edinburgh and surveyor to Greenwich Hospital; the younger, Eleanor Anne (1797?–1825), the first wife of Sir John Franklin, is separately noticed.

[Dict. of Architecture; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Hicklin's Guide to Eaton Hall; private information.]

L. B.