C. Hodgson Fowler

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Charles Hodgson Fowler (2 March 1840 – 14 December 1910) was a prolific English ecclesiastical architect who specialised in building and, especially, restoring churches.


He was born in Nottinghamshire, the son of Robert Hodgson Fowler (1798-1858) the vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Rolleston and Frances Elizabeth Bish (1802-1872).


In the early 1860s, following an apprenticeship with Sir George Gilbert Scott,[1] he commenced work in Pimlico, London, and became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1863. His proposers were Scott, E. W. Pugin and Matthew Digby Wyatt. In 1864, he moved to Durham, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Fowler's initial appointment in Durham was as Clerk of Works at Durham Cathedral in succession to E.R. Robson.[2] In 1870 he became a Fellow of the RIBA. At various times, he held the position of Architect to Rochester Cathedral and Lincoln Cathedral, and Architect to the Diocese of York and the Diocese of Lincoln. From 1885 to the time of his death, he was Architect to the Dean and Chapter of Durham, a post that had previously been held by Sir George Gilbert Scott.[3]

Almost all of Fowler's work was done in four counties: County Durham, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.[4]


Although much of Fowler's work involved restoring and enlarging buildings, he was the architect of a number of new or rebuilt churches. A representative sample in a book on Victorian architecture[5] is as follows:

Other notable churches by Fowler include:


Among Fowler's restorations were the following:


The architect's plan of the chancel of Killinghall church, 1905

Opinions on Fowler's work[edit]

The introductions to some of the volumes in the Buildings of England series offer a range of opinions on the merits of Fowler's restorations and, sometimes, his new or rebuilt churches:

  • "Charles Hodgson Fowler, clerk of works then architect to the Dean and Chapter [of Durham Cathedral], composed the usual red brick and lancet windows to great effect in his big town churches (St Paul, West Hartlepool 1885-6; St Ignatius, Hendon (Sunderland) 1889), and barn-like colliery ones (Bearpark 1877-9; Craghead 1914–21; Easington Colliery 1925-8). Between 1864 and 1895 he did a vast number of restorations, handling them sensitively but not slavishly (see the staircase at Ryton, 1886)."[11]
  • "From outside the county, C. H. Fowler ... also restored much, with a similar dead hand"[12]
  • "Hodgson Fowler was more sensitive [as a church restorer than Ewan Christian] (see also his new churches at Grove, 1882, St Alban Ordsall, 1901) ..."[13]
  • " ... C. Hodgson Fowler of Durham (who did an admirably tactful restoration at Scawton in 1892) ..."[14]
  • "C. Hodgson Fowler did some pleasant village churches (Burton Leonard, 1877-8; Bishop Monkton, 1878-9)"[15]


  1. ^ Whyte, William (2006). Oxford Jackson: architecture, education, status, and style 1835–1924. Oxford University Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-19-929658-8.
  2. ^ "Durham Cathedral". Newcastle Journal. England. 29 September 1864. Retrieved 14 July 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus; revised by Elizabeth Williamson (1983) [1953]. County Durham (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-071009-4.
  4. ^ DSA architect biography
  5. ^ Dixon, Roger; Muthesius, Stefan (1978). Victorian Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson.
  6. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus; Radcliffe, Enid (1967) [1959]. Yorkshire: The West Riding (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books.
  7. ^ "St John's Church: About the Building". stjohnschurchshildon.org.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  8. ^ "CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY". Historic England. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Mary, Scawton (1149196)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  10. ^ Historic England, "Church of All Saints, Winterton (1117004)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 13 August 2018
  11. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus; revised by Elizabeth Williamson (1983) [1953]. County Durham (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 46. ISBN 0-14-071009-4.
  12. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus; and John Harris, revised by Nicholas Antram (1989) [1964]. Lincolnshire (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 69. ISBN 0-14-071027-2.
  13. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus; revised by Elizabeth Williamson (1979) [1951]. Nottinghamshire (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 34. ISBN 0-14-071002-7.
  14. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Yorkshire: The North Riding. London: Penguin Books. p. 53.
  15. ^ Leach, Peter; Nikolaus Pevsner (2009). Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-300-12665-5.

External links[edit]

  • For additional biographical and business details, see the entry for Charles Hodgson Fowler in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects 1660-1980 (DSA)