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Basic Biographical Details

Name: (Sir) Reginald Theodore Blomfield
Designation: Architect
Born: 20 December 1856
Died: 27 December 1942
Bio Notes: Reginald Theodore Blomfield was born at Bow Vicarage, Exeter, Devon, on 20 December 1856, the son of the Rev John Blomfield and grandson - through his mother - of Charles James Blomfield, Bishop of London. He was brought up in Dartford, Kent where his father was appointed Rector, and from 1868 at Aldington, also in Kent. He was sent to Haileybury as a boarder in 1869 and from there he went to Exeter College, Oxford, where he read Classics and graduated MA. In 1880, after a tour of the continent, he was articled to his uncle Arthur William Blomfield and entered the Royal Academy Schools, where he was more influenced by the visiting academicians Richard Norman Shaw and George Frederick Bodley than he was by his uncle whom he left as a result of 'a misunderstanding' after only two years. He was admitted ARIBA as early as 1881, his proposers being Philip Charles Hardwick, Alfred Waterhouse and his Blomfield uncle. In 1884 he set up independent practice at 17 Southampton Street, Strand, where Edward Schroeder Prior also had his office. Through Prior Blomfield met Mervyn Macartney, William Richard Lethaby, Ernest Newton and Gerald Horsley, becoming a member of the Art Workers' Guild and the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society. In 1886 he married the daughter of Henry Burra of Rye, Sussex, who commissioned him to build several houses, one of which was let to Henry James, and in 1890 he was one of the founders of Kenton & Company in association with Macartney, Lethaby, Ernest Gimson and Sydney Barnsley.

In the 1880s Blomfield began his parallel career as an architectural illustrator and writer, initially in journals. He published his first book, 'Formal Gardens in England', in 1892, followed by 'A History of Renaissance Architecture in England', The first of these led to his one major Scottish commission, the terraces and formal gardens at Mellerstain, and the second publicised his name as an architect for country house restoration work and for new houses in a fairly convincing late Stuart-early Georgian manner. These together with the Sherborne School for Girls (1902), the United Universities Club in Pall Mall, London (1907-10) and Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, brought election as Associate of the Royal Academy in 1905, re-admission to the RIBA in 1906 as a Fellow with John Belcher and Aston Webb as his proposers, and appointment as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1907, an honour he held until 1911. In that year Blomfield began publishing his greatest literary work, 'A History of French Architecture 1494-1661', the studies for which strongly influenced his later designs.

Although he had been re-admitted as a Fellow for only six years, Blomfield was elected President of the RIBA in 1912 and was somewhat controversially Royal Gold Medallist in 1913 during the period of his tenure. The award of the Legion d'Honneur in May 1914 was blocked by the Foreign Office, and in that same year Blomfield suffered a serious breakdown in health brought about by over-work and, perhaps, annoyance; he recuperated on Sir George Warrender's flagship at Weymouth.

Blomfield was appointed one of the three principal architects to the War Graves Commission in 1918. In addition to the Menin Gate at Ypres, he designed the War Cross, a standard feature of all British war cemeteries. He was knighted in 1919, and continued practice into his old age with his son Austin Blomfield, born 1892. His last years were highly controversial with a bitterly opposed proposal to replace Nash's Carlton House Terrace in 1933 and an attack on all modern movement architecture, 'Modernismus', published in 1934.

Blomfield died in Hampstead on 27 December 1942.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 528a, Manchester Street, Manchester Sqaure, London, EnglandBusiness1881 *  
Item 2 of 517, Southampton Street, Strand, London, EnglandBusiness1884 *1885 
Item 3 of 539, Woburn Square, London, EnglandPrivate/business(?)18861892 
Item 4 of 51, New Court, Temple, London, EnglandBusiness18941926 
Item 5 of 551, Frognal, Hampstead, London, EnglandPrivate19051914 

* 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 1(Sir) Arthur William Blomfield18801884Apprentice 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 4Harold Falkner  Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4Lionel Francis Crane1892 Apprentice 
Item 3 of 4Charles Marriot Oldrid ScottApril 18981902Apprentice 
Item 4 of 4Neil Campbell Smith18991902Apprentice 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3(Sir) Arthur William Blomfield1881for Associateship
Item 2 of 3Philip Charles Hardwick1881for Associateship
Item 3 of 3Alfred Waterhouse1881for Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 4William Bryce Binnie (Major)30 November 1925for Fellowship
Item 2 of 4Peter Kydd Hanton2 March 1908for Associateship
Item 3 of 4(Captain) Arthur James Scott Hutton22 July 1935for Fellowship
Item 4 of 4John James Joass2 December 1912for Fellowship

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 12 Dunure Cemetery, Cross of SacrificeDunure AyrshireScotlandno date specified
Item 2 of 121886Glenbuchat Castle  AberdeenshireScotlandProposed restoration
Item 3 of 121886Glenbucket Castle  AberdeenshireScotlandProposed restoration
Item 4 of 121894Borrowstone LodgeKincardine O'Neil AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 5 of 121898Mellerstain House  BerwickshireScotlandBaroque main door to entrance front, and formal gardens
Item 6 of 121901MurraythwaiteDalton, Cummertrees DumfriesshireScotlandAdditions of bay windows and remodelling
Item 7 of 121918Imperial War Cross designs    Successful competition design
Item 8 of 121919Brodick CastleBrodickArranButeScotlandRestoration work and gardens
Item 9 of 12c. 1920Lossiemouth Cemetery, War Memorial Cross of SacrificeLossiemouth MorayshireScotland 
Item 10 of 121923Paisley Abbey, war memorialPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandDesign for memorial
Item 11 of 12c. 1925Lyness Naval Cemetery, War MemorialLynessHoyOrkneyScotland 
Item 12 of 12c. 1925Moodie Mausoleum and graveyard, war memorialSouth Walls, OsmondwallHoyOrkneyScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 7Blomfield, Reginald Theodore1932Memoirs of an Architect   
Item 2 of 7DNB Dictionary of National Biography   
Item 3 of 7Fellowes, R A Reginald Blomfield, an Edwardian Architect   
Item 4 of 7Gray, A Stuart1985Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary   
Item 5 of 7Grove Dictionary of Art Grove Dictionary of Art   
Item 6 of 7Reilly, C H1931Representative British Architects of the Present Day London: Batsford Ltd 
Item 7 of 7Walker, Frank Arneil1986South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew  p8

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 5Architect and Building News8 January 1943  Obituary
Item 2 of 5Builder8 January 1943  Obituary
Item 3 of 5RIBA Journal1913 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsRoyal Gold Medal
Item 4 of 5RIBA JournalJanuary 1943 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary pp65-68 (by A R Richardson et al)
Item 5 of 5RIBA JournalFebruary 1943 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary p88-89 (with list of works)

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 A v7, p74


© All rights reserved.  National Portrait Gallery, London 

© All rights reserved. National Portrait Gallery, London