Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Garner, Thomas

GARNER, THOMAS (1839–1906), architect, son of Thomas Garner by his wife Louisa Savage, was born at Wasperton Hill, Warwickshire, on 12 Aug. 1839. Brought up in country surroundings, he acquired as a boy a love of riding and a knowledge of horsemanship which he retained through life. At the age of seventeen (1856) he entered as a pupil the office of (Sir) George Gilbert Scott [q. v.], where he was a fellow student with Mr. Thomas Graham Jackson, R.A.. Mr. Somers Clarke, and John Thomas Micklethwaite [q. v. Suppl. II]. He had already made the acquaintance of George Frederick Bodley, R.A. [q. v. Suppl. II], who had served articles in the same office. After completion of his pupilage Garner returned to Warwickshire, and there began architectural practice, partly on his own account, partly as an assistant to Scott.

In 1868 Bodley sought his collaboration, and in 1869 they became partners, without any legal deed of association. A series of beautiful works in ecclesiastical, domestic and collegiate architecture was the result of this combination [see for description Bodley, George Frederick, Suppl. II]. The fine churches of the Holy Angels, Hoar Cross, St. Augustine, Pendlebury, and St. German, Roath, are the chief buildings of definitely united authorship. During the partnership it was the practice of the two to give separate attention to separate works, and among the buildings which under this system fell mainly if not entirely to Garner's share the chief were St. Swithun's Quadrangle at Magdalen College, Oxford; the small tower in the S.E. angle of 'Tom' Quad, Christ Church; St. Michael's Church, Camden Town; Hewell Grange, a house for Lord Windsor; the reredos in St. Paul's Cathedral; the monuments of the bishops of Ely, Lincoln, and Chichester in their respective cathedrals, and that of Canon Liddon in St. Paul's. Other designs in which it appears that Gamer's authorship was either sole or predominant were: churches at Bedworth, Peasdown, and Camerton; additions to Bosworth Hall, a house at Godden Green, Kent; the reconstruction of the chapel at St. Catharine's College, Cambridge; class-rooms, chapel, &c., at Marlborough College; the altar of King's College, Cambridge; and the restoration of Garner's own Jacobean home, Fritwell Manor House, Oxfordshire. After the perfectly friendly dissolution of partnership in 1897 Garner carried out as his own work exclusively Yarnton Manor, Oxfordshire; the Slipper Chapel, Houghton-le-dale; Moreton House, Hampstead; and the Empire Hotel, Buxton.

With his partner Bodley, Gamer was regarded for many years as an authoritative ecclesiastical artist. Together they were responsible not only for many new buildings but also for the decoration, often the transformation, of buildings of earlier date. In 1902 Garner designed the cope worn by the dean of Westminster at the coronation of Edward VII. In his later years Gamer joined the Church of Rome, and after the death of Edward Hansom he was appointed architect to Downside Priory, Bath, where he designed the choir in which his own interment was to take place. It is said that when John Francis Bentley [q. v. Suppl. II], the architect of the cathedral at Westminster, became aware of his own fatal illness, he suggested in answer to the question who should be his successor, 'Garner, for he is a man of genius.'

Garner died on 30 April 1906 at Fritwell Manor. He married in 1866 Rose Emily, daughter of the Rev. J. N. Smith of Milverton, Leamington Spa; she survived him without issue.

His residence was for a time at 20 Church Row, Hampstead, and his office was in Gray's Inn. His art collection was sold in January 1907.

'The Domestic Architecture of England during the Tudor Period,' a joint work by Garner and Mr. A. Stratton, was published in 1908, after Gamer's death, under Mr. Stratton's editorship.

[Builder, xc. 623, 531 (1906); information from Mrs. Garner and from Mr. Edward Warren.]

P. W.