Basic Biographical Details

Name: Charles Henry Bourne Quennell
Designation: Architect
Born: 1872
Died: 1935
Bio Notes: Charles Henry Bourne Quennell was born in 1872, the son of a builder. He began work as a foreman on building sites, followed by a year as a joiner in Surrey. In 1890 he was articled to Newman & Newman, London. At the end of his articles in 1893 he was assistant first to Yetts & Sturdy, and then to the obscure C J Waley before finding a place in the more prestigious office of John McKean Brydon where he remained until 1896. In that year he visited Italy having won medals from South Kensington and the RIBA in 1895. After a further spell as an assistant with Sedding & Wilson he commenced independent practice at 17 Victoria Street Westminster in 1898, moving later to 21 Great Peter Street (by 1914) his early practice being partly arts and crafts furniture for J P White of Bedford which attracted the attention of Muthesius. Thereafter it consisted mainly of large houses at Hampstead Heath and Hampstead Garden Suburb for the builder W G Hart and for his brother Walter Quennell and the West Heath Land Co. These were featured in the ‘British Architect’ in 1898 and in his own ‘Modern Suburban Houses’ published in 1906.

Quennell was admitted FRIBA on 2 March 1908, his proposers being Edwin Thomas Hall, Alfred Williams Stephens Cross and Charles Edward Mallows. In October 1910 he gave a paper on ‘Town Planning and Land Tenure’ at the RIBA’s International Town Planning Conference, a follow up to the Berlin conference in June, the exhibits from which were then on show at the Royal Academy. Election to the RIBA Council followed in 1912.

In 1910 Quennell was invited to write the introductory essay on ‘British Domestic Architecture’ to ‘The Studio Year Book of Decorative Art’ which included his own Southborough House at Chelmsford for Francis Crittall, later Lord Braintree; and in 1912 Sir Lawrence Weaver commissioned him to write six sections of the Country Life book ‘The House and its Equipment’. Despite the Finance Act of 1909 his practice continued to flourish, his largest houses, Aultmore, being built in 1912-14. But the First World War brought his practice to an abrupt halt: the Quennells had to sell their houses at Bickley in 1917 and Quennell himself had to take a job as almoner to a city company. To help make ends meet Quennell and his artist wife Marjorie Courtney, whom he had married in 1904, commenced the four volume series ‘A History of Everyday Things in England’ in 1916. These were published by Batsford from 1913 and proved best sellers. They were followed by the ‘Everyday Life’ series, ‘Everyday Things in Ancient Greece’ and finally ‘The Good New Days’ in 1935.

Quennell’s practice recovered quickly after the War thanks to the Crittalls who commissioned the early modern concrete-block Clockhouse Way Estate in 1918. These were followed by traditional neo-Georgian houses at Silver End, a development which included a single large house, The Manors, for Francis Crittall, built in 1927.

Quennell died in December 1935. Earlier that year his wife Marjorie had obtained the post of first curator of the Geffrye Museum which she held until 1941. She died in 1972. Their son Peter (1905-1993) was co-editor of ‘History Today’ from 1951 until 1979 and a prolific biographer. There were two further children, Gillian, born 1909 and Paul, born 1915, who was killed in Belgium in 1940.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 417, Victoria Street, Westminster, London, EnglandBusiness1898 *  
Item 2 of 4Four Beeches, Bickley, Bromley, London, EnglandPrivate19061917 
Item 3 of 421, Great Peter Street, London, EnglandBusiness1914 *  
Item 4 of 4Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, EnglandPrivate1917  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 5Newman & Newman18901893Apprentice 
Item 2 of 5C J Waley1893 Assistant 
Item 3 of 5Yetts & Sturdy1893 Assistant 
Item 4 of 5John McKean Brydon18931896Assistant 
Item 5 of 5Sedding & Wilson18961898Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Alfred William Stephens Cross2 March 1908for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3Edwin Thomas Hall2 March 1908for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3Charles Edward Mallows2 March 1908for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1Walter William Bull4 July 1910for Licentiateship

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 startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 41899Liskeard Church, towerLiskeard CornwallEnglandUnexecuted design
Item 2 of 41912AultmoreNethy Bridge Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 3 of 41912Aultmore estate, Curlew, Kestrel and Osprey CottagesNethy Bridge Invernsss-shireScotland 
Item 4 of 41912Aultmore, assembly hallNethy Bridge Inverness-shireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4Academy Architecture1913Academy ArchitecturePart 2 p34-5 (this is described as 'House in Inverness-shire' - probably Aultmore
Item 2 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 3 of 4Quennell, Peter1976The Marble Foot   
Item 4 of 4Who's Who in Architecture1914    

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Architectural History200759 pp211-246

Elizabeth McKellar: 'C H B Quennell (1872-1935): Architecture, History and the Quest for the Modern'.
Item 2 of 3Builder12 December 1935  Obituary
Item 3 of 3RIBA Journal21 December 1935v43London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary, pp211-2

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v19 p101 (microfilm reel 12)