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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Decimus Burton
Designation: Architect
Born: 30 September 1800
Died: 14 December 1881
Bio Notes: Decimus Burton was born on 30 September 1800, the tenth son of London builder James Burton. He trained in his father's office from 1816 and in that of George Maddox, where he was was taught draughtsmanship. He also attended classes at the Royal Academy Schools from 1817 when Sir John Soane was professor. His talent was evident at a young age as he assisted his father in the design of the latter's villa in Regent's Park. In 1821 he was allowed by Nash to design Cornwall Terrace and in 1823 Clarence Terrace in Regent's Park. His father was the builder in both instances.

He commenced independent practice in London in 1821 (or April 1823 according to Colvin) and designed another villa in Regent's Park, this time for G B Greenough, M.P. who was founder of the Geological Society. Greenough was to bring a number of other commissions in his later years including the Athenaeum Club. Burton was a member of the club and met a number of future clients there. Burton's first public building was the Colosseum in Regent's Park which had a massive dome and was based on the Pantheon in Rome. This brought him much acclaim and commissions from the Office of Woods and Forests in the Royal Parks followed.

Burton specialised in villas and small country houses and in picturesque urban planning such as that at Adelaide Crescent in Brighton. He was also considered to be an expert in iron and glass buildings, notable examples being at Chatsworth, Kew and Regent's Park.

Although he generally adopted the Greek Revival style, his designs were not necessarily archaeolgically accurate. His knowledge was drawn from publications rather than from the actual buildings, although he is known to have travelled widely in Europe and North America.

Burton was one of the original members of the Institute of British Architects, being appointed FIBA on its foundation in 1834. He was architect to the Royal Botanic Society from 1840. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries.

He retired in 1869 and died unmarried on 14 December 1881.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 16, Spring Gardens, London, EnglandBusinessBefore 18361868 or 1869 

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 2George Maddox    
Item 2 of 2James Burton or HaliburtonSeptember 1816 Apprentice 

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 3Henry Curreyc. 1835c. 1840Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3Henry Marley BurtonBefore 18601869Assistant(?)Initially as apprentice, later as assistant; succeeded to Decimus Burton's practice on his retirement
Item 3 of 3Edward John MayMay 18691869Apprentice 


RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1George Fowler Jones17 February 1888for 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 2November 1829St Nicholas Church churchyard, gates and tombs and screen wall  AberdeenScotlandElaborate scheme for enclosing churchyard - revised by Smith
Item 2 of 2c. 1840Feuing of the Queenstown EstateKelvinside GlasgowScotlandCommissioned to design layout


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 4Colvin, Howard2008A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 London: YUP. 4th edition 
Item 3 of 4Miller, Philip1981Decimus Burton Exhibition catalogue 
Item 4 of 4New DNB New Dictionary of National Biography   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Architectural Review1905xvii R P Jones: 'The Life and Works of Decimus Burton'.
Item 2 of 3Builder1881xli p779
Item 3 of 3Journal of the Royal Society1882xxxiv 1882-3, viii-ix


© All rights reserved.  National Portrait Gallery, London 

© All rights reserved. National Portrait Gallery, London