Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ware, Isaac

WARE, ISAAC (d. 1766), architect, is reported to have been originally a chimney-sweeper's boy whom an unknown patron found drawing with chalk in Whitehall. He was sketching the elevation of the banquet house upon the basement walls of the building itself, and is said to have made similar sketches of the portico of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. Ware's patron (possibly Lord Burlington) gave him education, and sent him to Italy for architectural study. In 1727 his name appears among the subscribers to Kent's designs of Inigo Jones. On 4 Oct. 1728 he was appointed clerk of works at the Tower of London, and a year later at Windsor Castle. In 1735 he was draughtsman and clerk itinerant to the board of works; in the next year he was secretary, and also took the place of Nicholas Hawksmoor [q. v.] as draughtsman to the board at Windsor and Greenwich. Meanwhile Ware had begun independent architectural work. In 1733 he contrived the conversion of Lanesborough House into St. George's Hospital (print in British Museum). His most important design was that of Chesterfield House, South Audley Street, of which Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth earl of Chesterfield [q. v.], took possession on 13 March 1749. The ‘canonical pillars’ of which Lord Chesterfield speaks in his letters to his son are those which, together with the stairs, came from Canons, the dismantled seat of the Duke of Chandos. Some of the materials of Lord Chesterfield's old house were in turn utilised by Ware in a residence which he built for himself on his own property at Westbourne Place, Harrow Road, afterwards the home of Samuel Pepys Cockerell [q. v.] Ware also built for his own occupation No. 6 Bloomsbury Square, which was inhabited later by Isaac D'Israeli [q. v.], and had another residence at Frognal Hall, Hampstead (west side of churchyard). In 1738 Ware, while still holding the office of secretary to the board of works, was appointed clerk of works to his majesty's palace in the room of Henry Flitcroft [q. v.], promoted, and from 1741 onward, till at least 1748, held office as ‘purveyor.’ In 1751–2, and again in 1757–8, he was employed as draughtsman, at a salary of 100l. a year, on the building of the Horse Guards from Kent's designs (see Horse Guards Accounts in Library Royal Inst. Brit. Arch.) About 1750 he altered or rebuilt the south and east fronts of Chicksands Priory, Bedfordshire, the home of the Osbornes. In 1754 he built the town-hall and market at Oxford, since removed (plate in British Museum). About the same time he designed Wrotham Park, near South Mimms, Middlesex, for Admiral Byng (the wings were added about 1810). Lindsay House, Lincoln's Inn Fields, built in 1759, is attributed to Ware (see Builder, 1882, xlii. 27), as well as No. 13 Hart Street, Bloomsbury.

In 1760 Ware submitted two designs for Blackfriars Bridge, which were placed among the eleven first selected designs. In 1763 he was master of the Carpenters' Company. He died on 5 Jan. 1766 at his house in Bloomsbury Square, while holding the offices of secretary, clerk itinerant, and clerk of works. Park (Topogr. of Hampstead, p. 341) erroneously states that he died ‘at his house in Kensington Gravel Pits’ in depressed circumstances.

A portrait of Ware, engraved from a bust by Roubiliac, was published on 1 Dec. 1802. He was a frequenter of ‘Old Slaughter's’ well-known coffee-house in St. Martin's Lane.

His published works comprise:

  1. The drawing and, in one or two cases, the engraving of the plates of Ripley's ‘Houghton, Norfolk,’ 1735, 1760, folio.
  2. The engraving of the plates of ‘Rookby, Yorkshire,’ with Harris and Fourdrinier, 1735, folio.
  3. ‘Designs of Inigo Jones and others,’ first edition undated, (1735?), 1743, and 1756, 8vo (this volume is the authority for attributing Ashburnham House to Jones).
  4. ‘The Complete Body of Architecture’ (his principal work, the drawings for which, including Chesterfield House, are in Sir John Soane's Museum), 1735 (?), 1756, and 1760, fol.
  5. ‘A Design for the Mansion House, London,’ engraved 1737.
  6. A translation of ‘Palladio,’ with plates, 1738, folio.
  7. A translation of Sirrigatti's ‘Practice of Perspective,’ 1756, folio.
  8. An edition of Brook Taylor's ‘Method of Perspective,’ 1766, 4to.

[Architectural Publication Society's Dictionary, ed. Papworth; Smith's Nollekens and his Times, ii. 206–8; Lysons's Environs of London, iii. 330; Belgravia Mag. May 1867, article by Thornbury; Wheatley's London Past and Present, pp. 209, 388; Vitruvius Britannicus (Wolfe and Gandon); Society for Photographing Relics of Old London (notes to plates 61–67).]

P. W.