Shaw, Richard Norman

views updated May 21 2018

Shaw, Richard Norman (1831–1912). Scots-born architect, the son of an Irish father and a Scots mother. A pupil of William Burn from 1849, he later travelled (1854–6) and published Architectural Sketches from the Continent (1858). He joined Salvin's office in 1856 before accepting (1858) a position with Street in succession to Philip Webb. He was influenced by A. W. N. Pugin's writings, but most of all by Street: he acknowledged the latter as his mentor. In 1862 he set up in practice on his own, and then in 1863 with Eden Nesfield, specializing in domestic and commercial work, each influencing, but working independently of, the other.

Shaw's early work included the Church of Holy Trinity, Bingley, Yorks. (1866–8—wantonly destroyed 1974 despite Goodhart-Rendel's opinion that ‘no modern church’ was ‘finer’), a tough essay in the Gothic Revival, much influenced by Street's designs, but the most important aspect of Shaw's output was his domestic work, in which the Gothic Revival, the Picturesque, vernacular architecture, and the Domestic Revival played their parts, influenced by designs of Butterfield, Devey, Nesfield, and Street. Shaw was most successful in refining and applying elements derived from traditional houses of the Sussex Weald (including tall brick chimneys, much tile-hanging, and mullioned windows with leaded lights) to large country-houses. His early work includes Glen Andred (1866–8) and Leys Wood (1868–9—mostly destroyed), both near Groombridge, Sussex, Grim's Dyke, Harrow Weald (1870–2—perhaps Shaw's finest interpretation of the Old-English version of the Domestic Revival), and the enormous and eclectic Cragside, Rothbury, Northum. (1870–84). These buildings, with their use of local materials and vernacular details had a profound effect on the evolution of domestic architecture and on the Arts-and-Crafts movement in general. Shaw's houses were published in The Building News, thus making his work widely known on both sides of the Atlantic, and influencing development of the Shingle style in the USA.

Both Shaw and Nesfield drew on C17 domestic architecture of The Netherlands and the William and Mary period in England (1689–1702), so their work of the 1870s began to be called the Queen Anne style. Shaw's chief works in this style were New Zealand Chambers, Leadenhall Street, London (1871–3—demolished), Lowther Lodge, Kensington (1873), 6 Ellerdale Road, Hampstead (1875–6—Shaw's house), Cheyne and Swan Houses, Chelsea (1875–7), and the celebrated Artists' Houses, 8 Melbury Road (1875–6), 118 Campden Hill Road (1876–8), and 31 Melbury Road (1876–7), Northern Kensington. Shaw also worked at Bedford Park, Turnham Green, Chiswick, London, where he designed the church, a club, an inn, shops, and several small houses (1877–80). The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park (1879–80), was eclectic, mixing late Gothic Revival with Arts-and-Crafts detail, and in the commercial architecture of the period (New Zealand Chambers and some of the buildings at Bedford Park), Shaw used the device of the Ipswich window that was to be widely copied and paraphrased. Around this time he published Sketches of Cottages and Other Buildings (1878).

Between 1879 and 1889 Shaw was assisted by Lethaby, and the character of his work began to change, as in the huge Albert Hall Mansions, Kensington Gore, London (1879–86), the first block of flats in the new red-brick free style that was to be so influential for this type of development. Then there was the very refined 170 Queen's Gate, Kensington, London (1888–90), with early C18 features (such as the eaves-cornice and tall sash-windows) and a Wrenaissance door-case, the whole ensemble looking forward to a type of Colonial Georgian revival. At the Alliance Assurance Offices, St James's Street, London (1881–8), he introduced a hybrid style incorporating Renaissance scrolled gables, mullioned and transomed windows, and brick façades with bands of stone. Striped too were the elevations of New Scotland Yard, London (1887–90 and 1901–7), in which many eclectic elements were mixed, including the tourelles of smaller French châteaux, Scottish Baronial architecture, and, a new note, the Baroque doorcases and aedicules in the gables. Similar themes occur at the offices for the White Star Line, Liverpool (1895–8—with J. F. Doyle). Later, the grand manner of Classicism became more pronounced, as with Bryanston House, Dorset (1889–94—with its great columns and Baroque details), Chesters, Northum. (1890s), the Alliance Assurance Office, St James's (1901–5—opposite the earlier block mentioned above), and the huge Piccadilly Hotel, Piccadilly, London (early 1900s).

Two other churches by him deserve mention: All Saints', Compton, Leek, Staffs. (1885–7—a wide, broad, church incorporating much personal interpretation of Second Pointed and Perpendicular detail, nave-arcades similar to those of the Bedford Park church, and some furnishings by Lethaby), and All Saints', Batchcott, Richard's Castle, Salop. (1890–3—again interpreting Second Pointed and Perpendicular detail, some of which was derived from local examples (e.g. the ball-flowers), the whole composed to give the impression of having been established and altered over a period). In both these works the influences of Bodley and of ‘Middle’ Scott were apparent.

When he retired in 1896, Shaw was hailed as the leading British architect, and his work was internationally known through publications by Muthesius and others. In 1892 he co-edited (with T. J. Jackson) Architecture: A Profession or an Art, in which the proposals to make the registration of architects compulsory were denounced. His last works were Portland House, London (1907–8—one of the first buildings with a reinforced-concrete frame in England), and studies for the new elevations for the Quadrant, Regent Street, London (1905–8—most unrealized, but finally built to designs by Blomfield and others).


Blomfield (1940);
Dinsmoor& and Muthesius (1985);
Ferriday (ed.) (1963);
Girouard (1977);
A. S. Gray (1985);
H. Muthesius (1979);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Saint (1976);
Sheppard (ed.) (1973, 1975);
Jane Turner (1996)

Richard Norman Shaw

views updated Jun 08 2018

Richard Norman Shaw

The British architect Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912) is noted for his domestic work, in which he was one of the most gifted designers in the Queen Anne, or "Shavian," style.

Richard Norman Shaw was born in Edinburgh on May 7, 1831. His architectural training began at 15 in the London office of William Burn, a domestic architect of some distinction. In 1854 Shaw won the Gold Medal of the Royal Academy, and its traveling scholarship permitted a journey that resulted in the publication of his Architectural Sketches from the Continent (1858), a folio of 100 lithographed vignettes of medieval ecclesiastical and domestic architecture in France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.

In 1858 Shaw succeeded Philip Webb as chief assistant to George Edmund Street, the leading Victorian Gothic church architect. In 1862 Shaw set up his own practice in London in loose partnership (until 1868) with William Eden Nesfield, to whom his early work owes much.

Shaw began as a builder of Gothic revival churches, such as that at Bingley in Yorkshire (1864), but he is now remembered for his Queen Anne country houses, for example, Leys Wood in Sussex (1868; demolished), which was early and influential, and Adcote in Shropshire (1879). These houses, vaguely based upon older vernacular architecture, exhibited richly textured and parti-colored materials such as brick, tiles, and half-timbering arranged into irregular, many-gabled piles; the rambling plans were composed of loosely grouped rooms, variously sized and shaped. The influence of these "Shavian" houses reached across the Atlantic via magazine illustrations to affect the domestic work of Henry Hobson Richardson and others.

The style could be urbanized, as in Shaw's New Zealand Chambers in London (1872-1874; destroyed) and his own house in Hampstead (1875), or it could be adopted for a total environment. At Bedford Park in London, Shaw laid out (1876-1880) the first garden city, with small gabled houses, a gabled inn and stores, and a church. He thus initiated the planned suburban living that carried over into the 20th century in the work of Charles F. A. Voysey and the partnership of Richard Barry Parker and Sir Raymond Unwin.

The Queen Anne style gave way in Shaw's work of the 1880s and 1890s to a more formal, if no less influential, Neo-Georgian manner, as at Bryanston in Dorset (1889-1890). His late work, such as the Picadilly Hotel in London (1905-1908), is of less interest today, and his alteration of John Nash's Regent Street in London has been lamented by later critics.

The most distinguished scholar-architects of the next generation, including William R. Lethaby, Thomas G. Jackson, and Sir Reginald Blomfield, his biographer, were all trained in Shaw's office. Shaw died in London on Nov. 17, 1912.

Further Reading

The uncritical biography of R. T. Blomfield, Richard Norman Shaw (1940), should be supplemented by a chapter on Shaw in Nikolaus Pevsner, Victorian Architecture, edited by Peter Ferriday (1963). For Shaw and the architecture of his time see Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (1958).

Additional Sources

Saint, Andrew, Richard Norman Shaw, New Haven: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (London) by Yale University Press, 1976. □

About this article

Richard Norman Shaw

All Sources -
Updated Aug 24 2016 About content Print Topic