Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||John Douglas |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||1829 |
|Died: ||23 May 1911 |
|Bio Notes: ||John Douglas was born at Sandiway, Cheshire on 11 April 1830, the son of John Douglas and his wife Mary Swindley. The elder Douglas commenced his working life as a labourer but was a joiner by 1830, then a builder, and finally a surveyor: his wife was born and brought up on the Eaton Hall estate, later to become his son's most important client. |
Douglas was articled to Edmund Sharpe & Edward Graham Paley of Lancaster c.1846 and remained with Paley after he began to practise on his own as chief assistant. Although he may have begun independent practice while still in Paley's office as early as 1855 he did not open his 6 Abbey Square, Chester office until 1860. It was initially both house and office and on 25 January of that year he married Elizabeth Edmunds of Bangour Is-coed. They had five children of whom only two lived to be adults; of these the elder surviving son, Charles Edmunds, born 1864 joined his father's practice c.1880 but died of consumption in 1887.
From the first Douglas was an accomplished Gothic designer, initially Early Decorated for churches and Old English, usually half-timbered, for domestic work. It was based on a profound study of old work by Douglas and his staff, their measured drawings and sketches of English and Welsh buildings being published in 1872 in the Abbey Square Sketch Book. But from the mid-1860s Italian Gothic and Romanesque designs began to appear, and in 1869 he became architect to the 3rd Marquess and 1st Duke of Westminster. Thereafter some of his work became distinctly cosmopolitan with marked French German and Netherlandish influences in the 1870s and early 1880s. His one Scottish house, Dansfield, 1883, belongs to his small group of French chateau-like houses of which The Paddocks at Eccleston (1882) was the premier example. By the later 1880s and 1890s he had returned to a refined English Tudor and neo-Jacobean. At its best Douglas's work challenged comparison with Shaw, Nesfield, Devey and George and attracted the attention of Hermann Muthesius and the French architect Paul Sedille.
In January 1884 when it became apparent that his son Colin was unlikely to be able to continue the practice Douglas took Daniel Porter Fordham (born 1845 or 1846) into partnership. Fordham had been in the office since at least 1872 and was an excellent draughtsman, but he too became consumptive. He never married and had to retire in 1898, moving to Bournemouth where he was cared for by an unmarried sister. He died there in the following April. Charles Howard Minshall, born 1858 and the son of a Chester bookseller, replaced Fordham as partner in 1898. He had been articled to Douglas in 1874 and had remained with him as an assistant. The partnership of Douglas and Minshall was dissolved in 1909. The reasons are not known, but communication may have been difficult as Douglas was by then very deaf and dependent on an ear trumpet and his son, Sholto had become an alcoholic. Minshall then established his own practice in Chester in partnership with the somewhat obscure E J Muspratt. Despite the high profile of the practice at the Royal Academy and in the building journals none of the partners ever sought membership of the RIBA.
Douglas died on 23 May 1911 at Walmoor Hill, Dee Banks, Chester, a massive Tudor pile which he had built for himself and his son Sholto, his wife Elizabeth having died in 1878. Although slow in sending out accounts he left a moveable estate of £32,088 17s 6d in addition to his substantial heritable properties in Chester. His remaining practice was then absorbed by Minshall & Muspratt under the title of Douglas, Minshall & Muspratt. Minshall died in 1934.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|6, Abbey Square, Chester, Cheshire, England||Business||1860||After 1905|| |
|Walmoor Hill, Dee Banks, Chester, Cheshire, England||Private||23 May 1911 *|| || |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Charles Howard Minshull ||1874|| ||Apprentice|| |
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 started||Building name||Town, district or village||Island||City or county||Country||Notes|
|1883||Danefield||Largs|| ||Ayrshire||Scotland|| |
|1901||All Saints Episcopal Church||Lockerbie|| ||Dumfriesshire||Scotland|| |
|1906||All Saints Episcopal Church||St Andrews|| ||Fife||Scotland||Chancel and bell tower|
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Hubbard, Edward||1991||The work of John Douglas|| || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||1899|| || ||Obituary of Fordham Check date|
|Builder||2 June 1911|| || ||Obituary|
|Chester Chronicle||27 May 1911|| || ||Obituary|
|Chester Chronicle||3 June 1911|| || ||Obituary|
|Chester Courant||24 May 1911|| || ||Obituary|
|Chester Observer||27 May 1911|| || ||Obituary|
|Liverpool Daily Post||24 May 1911|| || ||Obituary|
|RIBA Journal||30 June 1911|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects||Obituary - pp589-90|