Donthorn, William John

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Donthorn, William John (1799–1859). Born in Norfolk, England, he was a pupil of Wyatville, whose manner of Picturesque composition he developed. He established an extensive practice, designing country-houses and parsonages, but most of his Neo-Classical works recalling the designs of Dance the Younger and Soane have been demolished. His very severe Neo-Classicism can best be appreciated from his drawings in the RIBA British Architectural Library Drawings Collection, and from a handful of buildings (e.g. the stable-block, High House, West Acre, Norfolk (c.1823–9), and Upton Hall, near Southwell, Notts. (c.1830). He designed the Leicester Testimonial at Holkham, Norfolk, a column of the Agricultural Order (with mangel-wurzel and turnip-leaves instead of acanthus), and the romantic Gothic Highcliffe Castle, Hants. (1830–4), which incorporated medieval fragments from the Grande Manoir des Andelys (C15) and the Romanesque Abbey of Jumièges, both in Normandy, while the interiors contained Louis Quinze panelling and Empire décor. His output of Tudor Gothic was prolific, and he made forays into Norman Revival (e.g. Gaol and Session House, Peterborough, of 1841–2). He was a founder member of the Institute of British Architects.


AH, xxi (1978), 83–92;
Colvin (1995)