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

741489Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 56 — Tite, William1898Campbell Dodgson

TITE, Sir WILLIAM (1798–1873), architect, born in February 1798 in the parish of St. Bartholomew the Great, London, was the son of Arthur Tite, a Russia merchant, by his wife Anne, daughter of John Elgie. William was educated at a day-school in Tower Street, afterwards at Hackney, and became a pupil of David Laing (1774–1856) [q. v.], architect of the custom-house. From 1817 to 1820 he assisted Laing in rebuilding the body of the church of St. Dunstan-in-the-East, and in compiling its history; this was published in 1818. After failing in several competitions he obtained a commission to build the Scottish church, Regent Square, for Edward Irving, in 1827–8 (Hair, Regent Square, 1898, p. 50). In 1832 he designed the Golden Cross Hotel, West Strand, and in 1837–8 the London and Westminster Bank, Lothbury, in conjunction with Charles Robert Cockerell [q. v.] His most important work was the rebuilding of the Royal Exchange. At the first open competition in 1840 he was not among the successful candidates; but when the three selected designs were found to be unsuitable, the principle of open competition was abandoned, and five architects were invited to send in designs, of whom Tite was one. Sir Charles Barry [q. v.], Joseph Gwilt [q. v.], and Sir Robert Smirke [q. v.] declining to compete, only C. R. Cockerell and Tite were left in the field, and Tite's design was chosen. The building was completed in three years, at the cost of 150,000l., and was opened by Queen Victoria on 28 Oct. 1844.

Tite was largely employed in the valuation, purchase, and sale of land for railways, and designed many of the important early railway stations, including the termini of the London and South-Western railway at Vauxhall (Nine Elms) and Southampton; the terminus at Blackwall, 1840; the citadel station at Carlisle, 1847–8; most of the stations on the Caledonian and Scottish Central railways, including Edinburgh, 1847–8; Chiswick, 1849; Windsor, 1850; the stations on the Exeter and Yeovil railway, and on the line from Havre to Paris. Tite planned the Woking cemetery in 1853–4. In 1854–6 he built Gresham House, Old Broad Street, on the site of the old excise office; in 1857 Messrs. Tapling & Co.'s warehouse, Gresham Street; in 1858–9 a memorial church, in the Byzantine style, at Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire (Builder, 1859, xvii. 588, 616).

After a serious illness, followed by a journey to Italy in 1851–2, Tite gradually abandoned active professional work, but he had many other interests and occupations. In 1838 he was elected president of the Architectural Society, which was merged in the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1842. He was president of the Institute from 1861 to 1863 and from 1867 to 1870. He contested Barnstaple, in the liberal interest, without success in August 1854, but he was elected member for Bath in 1855, and continued to represent that city without interruption till his death. In parliament he strenuously resisted the proposed introduction by Sir George Gilbert Scott [q. v.] of the Gothic style in the new foreign office and other public buildings adjoining the treasury. As a member of the metropolitan board of works he was largely concerned in the construction of the Thames Embankment. He was a director of the London and Westminster Bank, and a member of the select committee appointed to report on the bank charter in 1856. He was a magistrate for the counties of Middlesex and Somerset, and was a governor of Dulwich College and of St. Thomas's Hospital. He was knighted in 1869, and in 1870 was made a companion of the Bath.

Tite was also well known as an antiquary and collector of books, manuscripts, and works of art. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1835, and of the Society of Antiquaries in 1839, and was president of the Cambridge Society in 1866. From 1824 to 1869 he was honorary secretary of the London Institution, Finsbury Circus. He published a descriptive catalogue of the antiquities found in the excavations at the new Royal Exchange, 1848, and several of his papers and addresses were privately printed. He was a good linguist, and had an extensive knowledge of English literature. He was a munificent contributor to funds raised for charitable and educational purposes, and founded the Tite scholarship in the City of London School. He died without issue at Torquay on 20 April 1873, and was buried in Norwood cemetery.

In 1832 Tite married Emily, daughter of John Curtis of Herne Hill, Surrey, who survived him. His personal property was sworn under 400,000l. His valuable library, consisting chiefly of early English books, biblical and liturgical rarities, and historical autographs, was sold at Sotheby's after his death.

A portrait of Tite as a young man by Renton, and a bust by William Theed, 1870, are at the London Institution. A copy of Theed's bust and a portrait painted by J. P. Knight, R.A., are at the Institute of British Architects. There is a marble bust of Tite in the Guildhall, Bath.

[Papers read at the Royal Institute of British Architects, 1873–4, pp. 209–12; Dict. of Architecture; Times, 22 April 1873; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Builder, 3 May 1873.]

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