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Burton, Decimus

Burton, Decimus (1800–81). British architect, who enjoyed success as a designer of villas, small country-houses, and several distinguished Greek Revival buildings. He acquired a reputation in the field of iron-and-glass conservatories. He was the tenth son of James Burton (or Haliburton) (1761–1837), a Scots builder and surveyor who settled in London and became a successful entrepreneur, laying out the new town of St Leonard's on-Sea, Sussex (1828–32), a development in which advanced Neo-Classical buildings, influenced by French precedents, can be found as well as a full eclectic mixture of styles. Decimus trained in his father's office and then with George Maddox (1760–1843) before entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1817. Under Nash's supervision he designed Cornwall and Clarence Terraces, Regent's Park. At the age of 23 he designed and built the Colosseum, Regent's Park (1823–7), a vast Pantheon-like domed structure bigger than the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, with a Greek Doric portico. Important commissions followed for the Royal Parks, including the Ionic screen at Hyde Park Corner and the lodges at Cumberland, Grosvenor, and Stanhope Gates (1824–5), and then the prestigious Athenaeum Club, Waterloo Place (1827–30), with its fine frieze and handsome interiors. His dignified arch on Constitution Hill (1827–8), intended as a Royal entrance to Buckingham Palace from the north, was moved to its present position in 1883.

He had considerable success as an architect of villas and modest country-houses. He laid out the Calverley Estate, Tunbridge Wells, Kent (from 1828), in which the Classical and the Picturesque, clearly derived from the work of Nash, are judiciously mingled. He designed the new town, including St Peter's Church, the North-East Hotel, the Queen's Terrace, the Custom House, and two light-houses, at Fleetwood, Lancs. (1836–43), which fell on hard times when the railway was extended to Carlisle and then Scotland, passing it by. Burton was interested in the problems of design using iron and glass: his finest essays were the (demolished) Great Stove or conservatory, Chatsworth (1836–40, with Paxton); the conservatory (1845–6, with Richard Turner (1798–1881)—demolished) at Regent's Park; and the palm-house (1845–8 again with Turner) at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Bibliography

Britton (1829);
Colvin (1995);
Funnell (1982);
Hyde (1982);
Miller (1981);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Summerson (ed.) (1993);
Whitbourn (2003)

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