Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wyatville, Jeffry

WYATVILLE, Sir JEFFRY (1766–1840), architect, son of Joseph Wyatt, architect, of Burton-on-Trent, was born in that place on 3 Aug. 1766. His grandfather was Benjamin Wyatt, timber merchant, farmer, and architect, of Blackbrook [see under Wyatt, James]. At about the age of eighteen he began his architectural studies at the office of his uncle Samuel Wyatt, at 63 Berwick Street, London, and from 1792 to 1799 was working with James Wyatt [q. v.], also an uncle, in Queen Anne Street. In 1799 he opened independent practice at an office in Avery Row, and in the same year was taken into a profitable partnership by John Armstrong, a large builder, of Pimlico. He first exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1786, and among his many designs which were hung in that institution, of which he was an associate in 1823 and an academician in 1826, were several of an imaginative or pseudo-archæological character, such as the ‘Burning of Troy’ and ‘Priam's Palace.’ His employers were mostly gentlemen of distinction and rank. In 1799 he designed alterations for the Rev. P. Wroughton at Woolley Park, Berkshire (George Richardson, New Vitruvius Britannicus, vol. ii. pl. 36–8), a quiet and severe classic composition. For the Marquis of Bath (1801–11) he designed an entrance and various additions at Longleat, Wiltshire, with further garden buildings in 1814. In 1802–6 he erected Nonsuch Park House, Surrey, for Samuel Farmer ‘in the style’ of the palace of Henry VIII.

At Wollaton, the seat of Lord Middleton, he designed the great hall and other alterations in 1804, and in 1810 ‘a seat in the cottage style’ at Endsleigh, Devonshire, for the Duke of Bedford, under whose patronage in 1818 he also designed the temple of the Graces in the sculpture-gallery at Woburn Abbey (Robinson, Woburn Abbey, 1833). In 1811 he was engaged by Lord Brownlow and the Duke of Beaufort, building for the former a greenhouse, dairy, and mortuary chapel at Belton in Lincolnshire; and for the latter additions to his seat at Badminton. For the Earl of Chesterfield he built the chapel, library, octagon, and kitchen at Bretbey or Bradby Hall, Devonshire (1812–1813). At Ashridge Castle, seat of the Earl of Bridgewater, he continued the works begun by his uncle James, erecting also the column in the park (1814–20), and in 1819 designed an entrance lodge and other works for Earl Howe at Gopsall, Staffordshire. At Chatsworth, for the Duke of Devonshire, he added (1821–32) the north wing, including the picture-gallery and tower, the Sheffeld and Derby entrances, the alcove in the gardens, and other works ‘in the Italian style.’ After making (1821) a survey of Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge, he prepared alternative designs for alterations to the central buildings, including the addition of the Taylor library and a hall and staircase for the master's lodge. These works, in a pseudo-Elizabethan style, were completed about 1824, and were followed in 1831–2 by the erection of the gateway tower and combination room, and by various alterations in both courts, largely effected by the use of Roman cement and by the addition of hood-moulds to the doors and windows. The cost of the later works was 13,063l. (Willis and Clark, Cambridge, ii. 741–8).

Wyatville was elected A.R.A. in 1822 and R.A. in 1824. The work by which he is best known is his transformation of Windsor Castle, which dates from 1824. In that year competitive designs for the remodelling of the royal apartments were received from Nash and Smirke, as well as from Wyatville, whose name at the time was still Wyatt, the supposed honour of the meaningless augmentation having been sanctioned by George IV on the occasion of his laying the foundation-stone of Wyatt's accepted design. The king not only augmented Wyatt's name, but added to his coat-of-arms a view of ‘George IV's gateway’ and the word ‘Windsor’ as a motto. In 1828, on the completion of the royal quarters, the king further bestowed on his architect the honours of knighthood and of a residence in the Winchester Tower, a privilege confirmed by William IV and Queen Victoria. Wyatville's work consisted in replacing with solid masonry the supposed inappropriate and probably picturesque structures which had grown up within the castle precincts since the beginning of the Tudor dynasty (Architect, 1891, xlv. 174–5). He pulled down twelve houses, rebuilt the Chester and Brunswick towers, repaired the Devil's Tower, and designed, besides the George IV gateway, the York and Lancaster towers, the new terrace, and the orangery. The additional height (some thirty feet) of the Round Tower is his work, and he converted the old Brick Court and Horn Court into the state staircase and Waterloo Gallery.

Whatever may be said of his Gothic—and at the time in which he worked it was not likely to be good—it must be acknowledged that his addition to the Round Tower has increased the general dignity of the castle, and, outwardly at least, his other work, which is solid and fortress-like, is free from the faults of affectation usual at the period.

Down to 1827 400,000l. had been spent on the fabric under Wyatville's direction, and in 1830, when no less than 527,000l. had been voted by parliament in various grants, a select committee was appointed to inquire into the expense of completion. Before this committee Wyatville pleaded for 128,000l. more, and his request was supported. He carried out many minor works in the royal domain, such as lodges, a boat-house, a hermitage, and the ruins at Virginia Water, chiefly composed of fragments from Tripoli (for list of these works see Wyatville's Illustrations of Windsor Castle, ed. Henry Ashton, 2 vols. 1841).

Wyatville was architect or restorer of over a hundred buildings, of which the following original works may be mentioned in addition to those already chronicled: Lilleshall, Shropshire, for Lord Gower; Golden Grove, Caermarthen, for the Earl of Cawdor; Dinton, Wiltshire, for William Windham; Denford, Berkshire, for William Hallet; Hutton, Lincolnshire, for Sir Robert Heron; Hillfield Lodge, Hertfordshire, for the Earl of Clarendon; Trebursye, Cornwall, for the Hon. William Eliot; Banner Cross, Yorkshire, for General Murray; house at Wimborne, Dorset, for William Castleman; Claverton, Somerset, for John Vivian; Messrs. Scott's bank in Cavendish Square; and a temple in Kew Gardens. At the request of Queen Adelaide he designed the Schloss Altenstein-Altenberg, for her brother, the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, from whom, in consideration of this and other designs, he received the Grand Cross of the Saxon Ernestine order.

He died, on 10 Feb. 1840, at his London residence, 50 (he previously lived at 49) Lower Brook Street, from a disease of the chest, and was buried on the 25th behind the altar of St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

By his wife, Sophia Powell, who predeceased him in 1810, he had two daughters, Emma and Augusta Sophia (d. 1825), and one son, George Geoffrey, who exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1832.

There is a portrait of Wyatville at Windsor, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence at the request of George IV. Another, drawn by Sir Francis Chantrey, is in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

[Architectural Publication Society's Dict. (in which is a long list of works); Neale's Seats of the Nobility; Tighe and Davis's Annals of Windsor Castle, pp. 599 et seq.; Gent. Mag. 1840, i. 545–9.]

P. W.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.286
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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191 ii 21 f.e. Wyatville, Sir Jeffry: before The work insert Wyatville was elected A.R.A. in 1822 and R.A. in 1824.