Ramsey, William de

views updated

Ramsey, William de (fl. 1323–d. 1349). English master-mason. He worked at Norwich Cathedral on the cloisters under John de Ramsey in the 1320s, and probably on St Ethelbert's Chapel over the gate to the precincts. However, he is of major importance for his work in London, where in 1323 he was employed at St Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, and from 1326 to 1331 he was Visiting Master (i.e. consultant) at Norwich Cathedral. By 1332 he was Master-Mason at St Paul's Cathedral, London, where he worked on the chapter-house and cloister. In 1335 he was a member of a four-mason Commission charged with reporting on the fabric of the Tower of London, and in 1336 he was appointed Chief Mason at the Tower and Chief Surveyor of the King's Works in the Tower and other castles south of the River Trent for life. In 1337 he was consulted about the works at Lichfield Cathedral, Staffs., where the presbytery was being built, and in the same year was put in charge of building at St Stephen's Chapel, Westminster. He was probably involved in the design of the Hall and other buildings at Penshurst, Kent (1341–8).

Ramsey is of great importance in the evolution of the Perpendicular style of Gothic, for surviving illustrations and fragments of masonry suggest that the chapter-house at St Paul's (destroyed) was in that style, which first emerged there and at St Stephen's Chapel, Westminster. He was therefore probably one of the inventors of that style, and, if so, he was one of the most influential architects England ever produced.


J. Harvey (1987)