Basic Biographical Details

Name: David Theodore Fyfe
Designation: Architect
Born: 3 November 1875
Died: 1 January 1945
Bio Notes: David Theodore Fyfe (generally known simply as Theodore Fyfe) was born at Yloilo in the Phillipines on 3 November 1875, second son of James Sloan Fyfe and Jane Charlotte Abercrombie Fyfe. His mother died in 1882. The family then returned to Britain, his father dying soon afterwards on 13 July 1884 in London. Fyfe was then brought up by an unmarried aunt, Jane Sloan Fyfe, and an uncle, John Alexander Fyfe, an insurance clerk, at 48 Rosebank Terrace, Glasgow and was educated at Glasgow Academy (Builder and RIBA obituaries say Albany Academy).

In September 1890 Fyfe was articled to Burnet Son and Campbell, and he remained as assistant after completing his apprenticeship, taking classes at the Glasgow School of Art where he was awarded the Haldane Bursary in 1894. In mid-1897 he moved to London as an assistant first to Arthur Beresford Pite and then to Aston Webb, which enabled him to study at the Architectural Association. There he won its travelling scholarship, enabling him to study at the British School in Athens. In 1899-1900 he travelled in the Mediterranean studying classical architecture, and was appointed by the Directors of the Cretan Exploration Fund, Arthur Evans and David George Hogarth, as architect for the excavations at Knossos. They made their first journey there in March 1900, but he was back at the British School in August, apparently in connection with alterations there which appear to represent the commencement of independent practice referred to in his nomination papers. Another study tour was then made of Bologna, Ferrara and Florence, followed by a visit to the British School and a further study tour in Constantinople and Brusa. By February 1901 he had established his own practice at 4 Gray's Inn Square, London, Fyfe returned to Crete with Evans, much of his time in 1903 was spent on plans for the reconstruction of Knossos. Throughout this period his personal practice was small but he hired himself out to Beresford Pite and to Aston Webb and Ingress Bell as his commitments on Knossos allowed.

From 1904 onwards Fyfe was working mainly for Burnet on the British Museum although he continued to maintain his own private practice, now at 2 Gray's Inn Square, designing the Shaftesbury Institute Lodging Home for Working Women at Lisson Grove. Other works for which he was responsible include the hall and classrooms at Charlotte Masson College, Ambleside, work in Chester Cathedral, the Memorial Chapel at Ashton Hayes near Chester and the Science block at Chester Training College. He also built houses in Cambridge and elsehere. He was admitted FRIBA on 10 June 1907, his proposers being Burnet, Pite and Webb and joined the Art Workers Guild in 1909 and served on the committee from 1914-16. On 20 September 1911 he married Mary Nina Brown, daughter of Robert Wright Brown, a Birkenhead cotton merchant. From 1913 he was based in Burnet's office at 1 and 2 Montague Place, during which period a partnership was discussed following the departure of Thomas Tait early in 1914. It appears he carried on his private practice from there at those dates, any work for Burnet in those years presumably being on a fee-paid rather than a salaried basis. The outbreak of war, the ending of work at the British Museum and the Institute of Chemistry together with a period of ill-health which lasted a year brought his arrangements with Burnet to a close, and he moved for a time to 34 King Street, Chester, before becoming housing architect to the Ministry of Health in Queensferry and in London. This appointment seems to have been relatively short-term and in 1917 he appears to have been either at Llysafi Manor, Pentre-Colyn, Ruthin or at The Garth, Oxton, both properties belonging to his father-in-law.

In 1919 Fyfe was appointed architect to the Dean and Chapter of Chester Cathedral, and in 1921 lectured on classical archaeology at Cambridge. Apppointment as Master of Architecture at the School of Architecture there followed in 1922, and after being made MA honoris causa in 1925, he became Director. He revisited Knossos in March 1926 and directed the Excavations at Glastonbury in 1926-27. In 1932 he was awarded the Henry Florence Bursary which enabled him to travel to Italy Greece, Asia Minor, Transjordan, Turkey, Syria and Egypt, the results of his studies there being published as ' Hellenistic Architecture: an introductory study' in 1936.

Fyfe retired as Director in 1935 and moved to Longstowe Hall, Cambridgeshire. In his retirment he wrote 'Architecture in Cambridge', published by Cambridge University Press in 1942. He drowned in a skating accident on 1 January 1945 at his home. No executed work in Scotland is known but he collaborated with Patrick Abercrombie and Dr William Kelly on the Deeside Regional Planning report in 1923.

Other publications:
'Architecture of Cambridge'
'The Little Country Church'
'Painted plaster decoration at Knossos.' Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 1903, 10, 3rd series: 107-31.
'The church of St. Titus at Gortyna, Crete.' Architectural Review, 1907, 22: 5-60.
'Hellenistic architecture: an introductory study', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1936

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 534, King Street, Chester, Cheshire, EnglandPrivate   
Item 2 of 54, Gray's Inn Square, London, EnglandPrivate/businessc. 1901After 1907 
Item 3 of 52, Gray's Inn Square, London, EnglandBusinessc. 1905  
Item 4 of 51, Montague Place, London, EnglandBusiness19131915 
Item 5 of 5Longstowe Hall, Cambridgeshire, EnglandPrivateAfter 1935  

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 7Burnet Son & CampbellSeptember 1890September 1895Apprentice 
Item 2 of 7Burnet Son & CampbellSeptember 1895June 1897Draughtsman 
Item 3 of 7Arthur Beresford PiteJune 1897January 1899Assistant 
Item 4 of 7Aston Webb19011903AssistantOccasional jobs whilst in independent practice
Item 5 of 7(Sir) John James Burnet19041913Assistant 
Item 6 of 7(Sir) John James Burnetc. 19131915 Prospective partner
Item 7 of 7Ministry of Health19151917  


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) John James Burnet10 June 1907for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3Arthur Beresford Pite10 June 1907for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3Aston Webb10 June 1907for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6Douglas Carr Bailey14 May 1942for Associateship
Item 2 of 6Gilbert Laurie Cadell8 January 1934for Associateship
Item 3 of 6William Dean1 March 1909for Associateship
Item 4 of 6George Thow Smith20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 6Thomas Smith TaitLate 1913 or early 1914for Associateship
Item 6 of 6James Cumming WynnesLate 1914for 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 61904King's Weighhouse ChurchMayfair LondonEnglandWas the job architect working with Burnet on new chancel and furnishings
Item 2 of 61905 or 1906British MuseumBloomsbury LondonEnglandKing Edward VII Wing (North Wing) and British Museum Avenue running N from new wing laid out -as assistant and subsequently prospective partner to Sir John James Burnet
Item 3 of 6After 1911Second Church of Christ ScientistNotting Hill Gate LondonEnglandAssociated with this project as part-time assistant and prospective partner
Item 4 of 61914Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland  LondonEnglandAssociated with this project as part-time assistant and prospective partner
Item 5 of 61921Paisley War MemorialPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandUnsuccessful competition design with Gilbert Bayes, sculptor
Item 6 of 6Before 1945Housing for the Ministry of HealthNorth Queensferry FifeScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 1Beauty's Awakening Beauty's Awakening: The Centenary Exhibition of the Art Workers' Guild Brighton Museum September -November 1984, Royal Pavilion Brighton 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder19 January 1945  p59 - Obituary
Item 2 of 2RIBA JournalFebruary 1945 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary p116

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3David Gill, Swansea UniversityInformation courtesy of David Gill, who is compiling book on British School in Athens Sent May 2008
Item 2 of 3Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Research by Peter Soar, 59 Castle Street, Cambridge, sent 22 January 2003
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v18 p119 no 1233 (microfilm reel 12)