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Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||William Eden Nesfield |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||2 April 1835 |
|Died: ||25 March 1888 |
|Bio Notes: ||William Eden Nesfield was born in Bath on 2 April 1835, the eldest son of the garden designer Major William Andrews Newfield and his wife Emma Mills. He was educated at Eton and after a few months with the architect-author James Kellaway Colling learning to draw, he was articled in 1851 to William Burn with whom his father had collaborated on a number of projects. There he worked with Richard Norman Shaw who was a few years older. In 1853 he transferred his articles to Anthony Salvin, his uncle by marriage and remained with him until 1856. In 1857-58 he undertook a major study tour, mainly of France but extending as far afield as Athens, with James Smollet Donaldson, the son of Professor Thomas Levington Donaldson, and at some point spent time with Violet-le-Duc. On his return he set up practice at Bedford Row in 1859. His earliest commissions were mainly garden and estate buildings for his father's clients which enabled him to take time off to revisit France and Italy to complete his great folio 'Specimens of Medieval Architecture' published in 1862 and complementing Shaw's 'Architectural Sketches from the Continent' published four years earlier. |
In 1861 Nesfield was commissioned to build a new wing at Combe Abbey Warwickshire for Lord Craven. This reflected his continental studies as did Cloverly, begun 1865, but after he began sharing an office with Shaw at 30 Argyle Street in 1863 his work took on an 'Old English' character of Kent-Sussex origin, related in some degree to the work of George Devey who was fifteen years older, but with a bolder use of half-timbered features and the introduction of Anglo-Japanese elements derived from his important collection of Japanese, Chinese and Persian objets d'art. From 1866 onwards he began to experiment with late Stuart or 'Queen Anne' architecture, generally purer in form then the work of John James Stevenson, a development which reached spectacular maturity in his reconstruction of Kinmel in 1871-74.
From 1866 Shaw and Nesfield were in formal partnership but as they consulted rather than collaborated on projects, the partnership was allowed to lapse in 1869. They reverted to sharing an office, an arrangement which lasted until they were required to vacate Argyle Street in 1876. Nesfield then moved office to Margaret Street.
After the move to Margaret Street and his separation from Shaw, Nesfield's health declined from a combination of overwork and heavy smoking. He became prone to depression, particularly after the deaths of his brother Markham in 1874 and his father and Salvin uncle, both in 1881. He retired to Brighton where he made a late marriage to a daughter of the architect John Sebastian Gwilt.
Nesfield spent his last years as a painter, dying in Brighton on 25 March 1888.
Nesfield had little business in Scotland but through George Washington Browne, one of his ablest assistants, his work had a considerable impact on Rowand Anderson's and John More Dick Peddie's practices and his influence spread widely through their pupils.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Bedford Row, London, England||Business||1859|| || |
|30, Argyle Street, London, England||Business||1863|| || |
|Margaret Street, London, England||Business||After 1876|| || |
Employment and Training
|The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|William Burn||1851|| ||Apprentice|| |
|Anthony Salvin||1853||1856||Apprentice|| |
|Nesfield & Shaw||1866||1869||Partner|| |
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Robert Morham||c. 1862||c. 1866||Assistant|| |
|George Washington Browne||After 1877||1879||Assistant(?)|| |
Buildings and Designs
|This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Date started||Building name||Town, district or village||Island||City or county||Country||Notes|
|c. 1875||Lochluichart Lodge|| || ||Ross and Cromarty||Scotland||Scheme for adding top floor to centre block and baronialising tower|
|1878||Newbattle Abbey||Newbattle|| ||Midlothian||Scotland||Library interiors - not executed|
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Aslet, Clive||1978||The country houses of W E Nesfield|| ||Articles from Country Life|| |
|Cresswell, H B||1897||William Eden Nesfield 1835-88: an impression and a contrast||v2||Architectural Review, p23-32|| |
|Girouard, Mark||1977||Sweetness and Light: The Queen Anne Movement|| || || |
|Hebb, J||1903||William Eden Nesfield|| ||RIBA Jounral, pp396-400|| |
|Newfield, W E||1989||Letters of W E Nesfield|| ||J F W Bullock (ed) Facsimile edition|| |
|Saint, A||1976||Richard Norman Shaw|| || || |
|Service, Alastair||1975||Edwardian Architecture and its Origins|| || ||Article by John McKena Brydon in Architectural Review, reprinted here|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||31 March 1888|| || ||Obituary|
|Builder||7 April 1888|| || ||Obituary|
|Builder||14 April 1888|| || ||Obituary|
|Building News||30 March 1888|| || ||Obituary|
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