William Burn

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Edinburgh Academy
St Johns Princes Street Edinburgh
Ceiling of St Johns, Princes Street, Edinburgh
Melville Monument in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh., topped by Robert Forrest's statue of Viscount Melville
Burn's funerary monument, Kensal Green Cemetery, London

William Burn FRSE (20 December 1789 – 15 February 1870) was a Scottish architect, and pioneer of the Scottish Baronial style. A talented architect, he received major commissions from the age of 20 until his death at 80.


Burn was born on Rose Street[1] in Edinburgh, the son of architect Robert Burn. He was educated at the Royal High School.

After training with the architect Sir Robert Smirke, designer of the British Museum, he returned to Edinburgh in 1812. Here he established a practice from the family builders' yard. In 1841, he took on a pupil, David Bryce, with whom he later went into partnership. From 1844 he worked in London, where he took on his nephew John Macvicar Anderson as a partner.

In 1827 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, unusual for an architect, his proposer being James Skene. He resigned in 1845 following his move to London.

In the 1830s he was living and working at 131 George Street in the New Town.[2]

Burn was a master of many styles, but all are typified by well-proportioned simplicity externally and frequent stunning interiors.

He died at 6 Stratton Street in Piccadilly, London[3] and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery just on the edge of the path to the north-west of the Anglican Chapel.

Trained under Burn[4][edit]

David Bryce went on to perfect the Scottish Baronial style of architecture.


Burn was a prolific architect and happy to turn his hand to a variety of styles. He designed churches, castles, public buildings, country houses (as many as 600), monuments and other structures, mainly in Scotland but also in England and Ireland. His works include among others:





  1. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1789-1790
  2. ^ "Edinburgh Post Office annual directory, 1832-1833". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 2018-01-20. 
  3. ^ http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/fellows/biographical_index/fells_indexp1.pdf
  4. ^ Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Burn
  5. ^ Monuments and Statues of Edinburgh, Michael T.R.B. Turnbull
  6. ^ Victorian Cliveden: history of house and gardens National Trust. Retrieved 2012-12-20.

Further reading[edit]

  • Walker, David (1984): William Burn and the influence of Sir Robert Smirke and William Wilkins on Scottish Greek Revival Design, 1810-40 in Scottish Pioneers of the Greek Revival, The Scottish Georgian Society, Edinburgh, pp 3–35

External links[edit]