John Starforth

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London Road Parish Church, Edinburgh

John Starforth (1822-1898) was an English-born architect and architectural author associated solely with work in Scotland, mainly working in Lothian, Dumfries & Galloway, and the Scottish Borders.


Greyfriars Church in Dumfries
Old Parish Church, Nairn
Moffat church
Peebles Hydro

He was born in the town of Aukland near Durham in northern England, in July 1822 the son of John Henry Starforth or Starford, and his wife Elizabeth Moor. He was apprenticed as an architect under Thomas Hamilton in the 1830s (based in Edinburgh (probably aged 14). Around 1840 he moved to the firm of Burn & Bryce, staying with David Bryce when William Burn left to set up in London in 1844.[1]

He set up an independent practice around 1850, specialising in churches and country villas and farmsteads. In 1864 he entered the competition for the Scottish National Albert Memorial (now in Charlotte Square). Although unsuccessful his drawings were displayed in the 1886 Edinburgh Exhibition on The Meadows.

He died of a heart attack whilst walking on Princes Street, to his home at 37 York Place[2] in Edinburgh’s New Town, on 18 May 1898.


He was married to Helen Henderson (d.1916). They had two daughters and three sons, including Robert H. Starforth, who continued his father’s architectural practice but was of lesser note. Helen moved to Ayr following her husband’s death.

Works of Note[edit]



  • The Architecture of the Farm (1853)
  • Villa Residences and Farm Architecture (1865)
  • Designs for Villa Residences (1866)
  • The Architecture of the Park (1890)[5]


  1. ^ a b Goold, David. "Dictionary of Scottish Architects - DSA Architect Biography Report (January 25, 2017, 5:01 pm)". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  2. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1897-8
  3. ^ a b Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh, by Gifford McWilliam and Walker
  4. ^ "Mackintosh Architecture: The Catalogue - browse - display". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Starforth". Retrieved 25 January 2017.