Aston Webb

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Aston Webb
Aston Webb.jpg
Sir Aston Webb, portrait by Solomon Joseph Solomon, ca 1906
Born (1849-05-22)22 May 1849
London
Died 21 August 1930(1930-08-21) (aged 81)
Nationality English
Awards Knighted (1904)
Royal Gold Medal for Architecture (1905)
American Institute of Architects Gold Medal (1907)
Albert Medal (1927)
Buildings University of Birmingham

Sir Aston Webb, PRA, FRIBA (22 May 1849[1] - 21 August 1930[2]) was an English architect, active in the late 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. He was President of the Royal Academy from 1919 to 1924.

Life[edit]

The son of a water-colour painter (and former pupil of landscape artist David Cox), Edward Webb, Aston Webb was born in Clapham, London, and received his initial architectural training articled in the firm of Banks and Barry from 1866 to 1871, after which he spent a year travelling in Europe and Asia. He returned to London in 1874 to set up his own practice.

From the early 1880s, he joined the Royal Institute of British Architects (1883) and began working in partnership with Ingress Bell (1836–1914). Their first major commission was a winning design for the Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham (1886), the first of numerous public building schemes the pair designed over the next 23 years. Towards the end of his career Webb was assisted by his sons, Maurice and Philip. Ralph Knott, who designed London's County Hall, began his work as an apprentice to Webb executing the drawings for his competition entries.

He served as RIBA President (1902–1904) and, having been elected as a full member of the Royal Academy in 1903, served as acting president from 1919 to 1924. He was knighted in 1904,[3] received the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1905 and was the first recipient of the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1907. He was the first chairman of the London Society in 1912.[4] He died in Kensington, London.

Works[edit]

Imperial College London
Buckingham palace and Victoria memorial
A drawing showing Plan of a Master’s House, New Christ’s Hospital. (Webb and Bell).

One of his earliest works was built for the Six Masters of The Royal Grammar School Worcester in 1877. These almshouses are in the Arts and Crafts style, different from his later work.

Webb's first major work was the restoration of the medieval St Bartholomew-the-Great in Smithfield, London. His brother Edward Alfred Webb was the churchwarden at the time, and his association with the church probably helped the young architect get the job.[5] In London, Webb's best known works include the Queen Victoria Memorial and The Mall approach to, and the principal facade of, Buckingham Palace, which he re-designed in 1913.

Webb also designed the Victoria and Albert Museum's main building (designed 1891, opened 1909), the Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall (1893–95) and – as part of The Mall scheme – Admiralty Arch (1908–09). He also designed the Britannia Royal Naval College, Devon, where Royal Naval officers are still trained. He enlarged and sympathetically restored the perpendicular Church of St John Baptist, Claines, Worcester, finishing in 1886. Nearby he was also responsible for the new church of St. George, consecrated in 1895, which replaced an earlier smaller building in St. George's Square, Barbourne, Worcester. With his partner Ingress Bell, he extended St Andrew's Church, Fulham Fields (London), remodelled the chancel and built the Lady Chapel.


Other educational commissions included the new buildings of Christ's Hospital in Horsham, Sussex (1893–1902), the Royal College of Science, South Kensington (1900–06), King's College, Cambridge (1908), the Royal School of Mines, South Kensington (1909–13), Royal Russell School, Coombe, Croydon, Surrey and the Royal College of Science for Ireland which now houses the Irish Government Buildings.

Residential commissions included Nos 2 (The Gables) and 4 (Windermere) Blackheath Park, in Blackheath, south-east London. He also designed (1895–96) a library wing, including the Cedar Library, at The Hendre, a large Victorian mansion in Monmouthshire, for John Allan Rolls, first Lord Llangattock.


In March 1889, the consistory of the French Protestant Church of London commissioned (Sir) Aston Webb to design a new church.[6] It was erected in 1891–93 at 8–9 Soho Square in London. The church is one of Aston Webb's Gothic school works.

In 1901, Aston Webb designed the headquarters for a brewery at 115 Tooley Street, London, recently converted into 14 apartments as "Aston Webb House". This was done as part of the development of More London.

Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray commissioned Webb to undertake major extensions to his property, Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire, which were carried out c. 1913–20.[7]

The central building of Chancellor's Court at the University of Birmingham, UK was designed by Webb and Ingress Bell and named after Aston Webb. It includes the Great Hall. The main feature is a large dome that sits atop the building.

Gallery of architectural work[edit]

Chamber, Former Supreme Court, now Hong Kong Legislative Council Building
Former Supreme Court, now Hong Kong Legislative Council Building

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO) (1881). "Ancestry.com. 1881 England census". 1881 England census. pp. Class: RG11 Piece: 30; Folio: 72; Page: 29, 13 Lansdowne Crescent Kensington. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Index of Death of Aston Webb". FreeBMD. General Register Office of England and Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2009. "Deaths Sep 1914, Webb, Aston, 81, Kensington, 1a 173" 
  3. ^ "Webb, Sir Aston". Who's Who, 59: p. 1856. 1907. 
  4. ^ http://www.londonsocietyjournal.org.uk/
  5. ^ Dungavell, The architectural career of Sir Aston Webb (London: University of London, Royal Holloway and New Bedford College), 1999
  6. ^ French Protestant Church of London
  7. ^ "Dunecht House: Listed Building Report". Historic Scotland. 

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Sir Edward Poynter, Bt
President of the Royal Academy
1919–1924
Succeeded by
Frank Dicksee