Thomas Cubitt

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Thomas Cubitt
Thomascubitt.png
Born25 February 1788
Died20 December 1855 (aged 67)
NationalityBritish
OccupationArchitect
PracticeCubitts
BuildingsThe London Institution
Buckingham Palace
Osborne House
ProjectsBelgrave Square
Lowndes Square
Chesham Place
Gordon Square
Tavistock Square
Eccleston Square
DesignEaton Square
Battersea Park

Thomas Cubitt (25 February 1788 – 20 December 1855) was a British master builder, notable for his employment in developing many of the historic streets and squares of London, especially in Belgravia, Pimlico[a] and Bloomsbury.[b]

Background[edit]

The son of a Norfolk carpenter, he journeyed to India as ship's carpenter from which he earned sufficient funds to start his own building firm in 1810 on Gray's Inn Road, London where he was one of the first builders to have a 'modern' system of employing all the trades under his own management.[1]

Work[edit]

Statue of Thomas Cubitt by William Fawke, 1995. Denbigh Street, London. The twin to this statue is in Dorking, Surrey.
54-56 Highbury Park, Islington, last remaining of Cubitt's villas

Cubitt's first major building was the London Institution in Finsbury Circus, built in 1815.[2] After this he worked primarily on speculative housing at Camden Town, Islington, and especially at Highbury Park, Stoke Newington.[3]

His development of areas of Bloomsbury, including Gordon Square and Tavistock Square, began in 1820, for a group of landowners including the Duke of Bedford.[4]

House built by Cubitt at 49 Belgrave Square, London

He was commissioned in 1824 by Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster, to create a great swathe of building in Belgravia centred on Belgrave Square and Pimlico, in what was to become his greatest achievement in London.[5] Notable amongst this development are the north and west sides of Eaton Square, which exemplify Cubitt's style of building and design.[5]

After Cubitt's workshops in Thames Bank were destroyed by fire, he remarked "Tell the men they shall be at work within a week, and I will subscribe £600 towards buying them new tools."[6]

Cubitt was also responsible for the east front of Buckingham Palace.[7] He also built and personally funded nearly a kilometre of the Thames Embankment.[8] He was employed in the large development of Kemp Town in Brighton, and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, completed in 1851.[7] Cubitt's public works included the provision of public parks, including being an organiser of the Battersea Park Scheme.[9] His work outside London includes the country house Polesden Lacey, near Dorking, Surrey, which he rebuilt to largely its present form in the early 1820s.[10]

In 1827 he withdrew from the management of his Gray's Inn Road concern leaving this to his brother William Cubitt; the firm of Cubitts still carried out the work of Thomas Cubitt and the change robbed neither partner of the credit for their work.[7]

Family[edit]

Cubitt had two brothers, the contractor and politician William and the civil engineer Lewis who designed many houses built by Thomas. [11]

Cubitt married Mary Anne Warner, having son George, and daughters Ann and Mary. His son George was a politician, created Baron Ashcombe in 1892.

Thomas Cubitt is a great-great-great-grandfather of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.[12]

Legacy[edit]

Plaque on Cubitt's house at 13 Lewes Crescent, Kemp Town, Brighton

Cubitt died in 1855[7] and was taken from Dorking for burial at West Norwood Cemetery on 27 December 1855.[13]

After his death, Queen Victoria said, "In his sphere of life, with the immense business he had in hand, he is a real national loss. A better, kindhearted or more simple, unassuming man never breathed."[14]

Another statue of Cubitt can be seen in Dorking, opposite the Dorking Halls, as he was favoured there for his architecture on his Denbies estate.[15]

In 1883 the business was acquired by Holland & Hannen, a leading competitor, which combination became known as Holland & Hannen and Cubitts, later Holland, Hannen & Cubitts.[16]

Restaurants, pubs and other places have been named in his honour.[17]

References and footnotes[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ both of these for clients of the senior, noble, Grosvenors (with titles named after Westminster), by the end of the century a dukedom
  2. ^ for clients of the senior, noble, Russells (with title Duke of Bedford)
Citations
  1. ^ Holland & Hannen and Cubitts – The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, Page 17
  2. ^ Holland & Hannen and Cubitts – The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, Page 19
  3. ^ Holland & Hannen and Cubitts – The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, Page 25
  4. ^ Holland & Hannen and Cubitts – The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, Page 27
  5. ^ a b Holland & Hannen and Cubitts – The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, Page 29
  6. ^ Timbs, John (1855). Curiosities of London: Exhibiting the Most Rare and Remarkable Objects of Interest in the Metropolis. D. Bogue. p. 43.
  7. ^ a b c d Holland & Hannen and Cubitts – The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, Page 35
  8. ^ Holland & Hannen and Cubitts – The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, Page 31
  9. ^ Holland & Hannen and Cubitts – The Inception and Development of a Great Building Firm, published 1920, Page 33
  10. ^ "Polesden Lacey". The Victorian Web.
  11. ^ Hobhouse, Hermione. "Cubitt, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6859. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams (8 February 2022). "The ancestry of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall". www.wargs.com. Archived from the original on 8 February 2022. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  13. ^ "Thomas Cubitt Monument, Norwood Cemetery". Borough Photos. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  14. ^ London By Stephen Halliday
  15. ^ "Mary Ann Cubitt of Denbies – a detective story By Mark Cortino with biographical notes by Kathy Atherton". Dorking Museum. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012.
  16. ^ Cubitts 1810 – 1975, published 1975
  17. ^ "Cubit House". Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.