Thomas Hardwick

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Thomas Hardwick (1752–1829) was an English architect and a founding member of the Architects' Club in 1791.

Early life and career[edit]

Hardwick was born in Brentford, Middlesex the son of a master mason turned architect also named Thomas Hardwick (1725–98, son of another Thomas, 1681–1746, also a mason, who in 1711 left Herefordshire for Isleworth, where the family retained property, and moved to Brentford in 1725) who worked with the architect brothers Robert and John Adam on nearby Syon House between 1761–1767. Both father and son were associated with Syon from about the 1720s and employment continued until the early 19th century. The Hardwicks were one of the finest architectural families during the 19th century. Thomas Hardwick, his son Philip Hardwick (1792–1870), and then grandson Philip Charles Hardwick (1822–1892) each held the post of Surveyor to St Bartholomew's Hospital, London.

In 1769, aged 17, he enrolled at the new Royal Academy Schools, where he studied architecture under Sir William Chambers, for whom he later worked during the construction of Somerset House. During his first year at the Royal Academy he won the silver medal in architecture, and from 1772 to 1805 he exhibited there.

In his early twenties Hardwick travelled to Europe at his own expense, visiting Paris and Lyon, before heading for Italy accompanied by artist Thomas Jones (1742–1803). He lived in Naples and then Rome for two years from 1776, filling his notebooks with sketches and measured drawings and gaining a grounding in classical architecture which was to influence his own neo-classical style. He also renewed his acquaintance with fellow Academy pupil John Soane (1753–1837).

Main works[edit]

West Front, St Mary's, St. Marylebone Parish Church
South Front, St Mary's, St. Marylebone Parish Church

After returning to London Hardwick established a reputation as a church architect, designing the church of St Mary the Virgin at Wanstead (completed in 1790 – now a Grade I listed building), the Hampstead Road Chapel (1791–1792), St John's Wood Church, St John's Wood High Street (1813–1814), and the church of St Barnabas (now St Clement) King Square, near Old Street. Arguably, his most notable work is the church of St Mary, Marylebone Road (1813–1817).

In 1813 he had begun a chapel-of-ease, designed to accommodate a considerable congregation, on the south side of the New Road in London, for the parish of St Marylebone. It was a basically rectangular building, with two small wings placed diagonally at the liturgical east, and was intended to have an Ionic portico surmounted by a group of figures and a cupola. However, before completion, it was decided that it would make a suitable new parish church for of St Marylebone. Hardwick altered the design to create a suitably grand facade, with a Corinthian portico six columns wide, based on that of the Pantheon in Rome, and a steeple, its top stage in the form of a miniature temple, surrounded by eight caryatids. The interior, with two tiers of galleries supported on iron columns, was left unaltered.[1]

In 1823 he restored St Bartholomew-the-Less in the City of London. An octagonal vaulted interior had been constructed within the church's medieval walls by George Dance the Younger using timber, but had succumbed to dry rot. Hardwick replicated it in more permanent materials, using Bath stone for the columns, and iron for the vaulted ceiling.[2]

He restored Inigo Jones's St Paul's, Covent Garden; he was appointed in 1788 and the eventual 10-year-long restoration project survived an almost disastrous fire in 1795 which destroyed much of Jones's original interior. He also restored Sir Christopher Wren's St James's, Piccadilly.

Beyond London, St John's Church, Workington was built in 1823 to Hardwick's design and although built of local sandstone it bears some resemblance to the Inigo Jones St Paul's Church in Covent Garden which Hardwick had previously restored. As well as churches, he also designed some civic buildings, including the Shire Hall in Dorchester, Dorset. Built in 1797, this building (also now a Grade I listed building) retains the courtroom where the Tolpuddle Martyrs were sentenced to transportation to Australia for their part in the early trade union movement in 1834.

Hardwick was appointed Clerk of Works at Hampton Court by King George III, following which he also work at Kew Palace and its gardens. He was a founding member of the Architects' Club; but never became an Associate of the Royal Academy.

Pupils and family[edit]

Hardwick's pupils included Samuel Angell,[3] the Plymouth architect John Foulston (1772–1842) designer of the Greek Revival style Plymouth Proprietary Library, and his own second son Philip Hardwick. Philip thus became the third successive generation to practice as an architect, joining his father as a partner and in 1825 taking over the firm's London office.

Another of Hardwick's pupils was the artist J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851), whom it is said Hardwick advised to concentrate more on painting than architecture. During the young artist's training Turner made a drawing of Hardwick's design of St Mary the Virgin, Wanstead and later sold some of his early works to his popular tutor. Turner continued to be friends with the Hardwick family and at the end of his life chose Hardwick's son, Philip, as an executor.

Thomas Hardwick worked with the architect John Shaw Sr. (1776–1832) whilst surveying St James's Church, Piccadilly and St Barthlomew's Hospital in Smithfield; later his son Philip Hardwick married a daughter of John Shaw. Another son, John Hardwick (1790–1875), was a stipendiary magistrate at Great Marlborough Street magistrates' court, London, and a friend of Charles Dickens.

Hardwick died at his family home in central London's Berners Street, and was buried in the family vault in the churchyard of St Laurence, Brentford.

A portrait of Hardwick by George Dance the Elder is part of the National Portrait Gallery collection.


  1. ^ Smith (1833). A Historical and Topographical Account of the Parish of Mary-le-bone. London: John Smith. pp. 89–90.
  2. ^ Godwin, George; John Britton (1839). The Churches of London: A History and Description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis. London: C. Tilt. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  3. ^ Richardson, Albert E. (2001). Monumental Classic Architecture in Great Britain and Ireland Dover books on architecture Author. Dover books. p. 36. ISBN 9780486415345.

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