Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Robert Jewell Withers |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||2 February 1824 |
|Died: ||7 October 1894 |
|Bio Notes: ||Robert Jewell Withers was born on 2 February 1824 in Shepton Mallet in Somerset, one of the four sons of John Alexander Withers and his wife Maria Jewell. He was tutored at home by his mother who had been a private tutor before her marriage but at the age of ten he was sent to Mr Clark's school for boys at Newport on the Isle of Wight. He moved for a brief period to Hossington School near Templecombe but returned to Newport for two years afterwards. In 1839 he was articled to Thomas Hellyer in Ryde, Isle of Wight. Hellyer was a specialist in the design of churches and this was to leave its mark upon the young Withers. In 1844 he made a tour of England and the Continent but returned to Sherbourne, Dorset where his parents had moved in 1839. |
Withers commenced practice on his own account in Sherbourne in 1848 where he obtained a series of commissions though he does not seem to have been entirely happy being 'disgusted with place' according to the notes made on his life by his second youngest daughter Mabel. He was admitted ARIBA in 1849 and in the following year he moved to London where he worked for the Improvement Commission and with his brother Frederick Clark Withers, also an architect.
In 1854 Robert Jewell opened an office at 6 John Street, Adelphi and on 20 April of that same year married the sister of his brother Frederick's partner, Catherine Mary Vaux, at Croydon Parish Church. They subsequently had nine children, five daughters and four sons. During 1854 the couple lived briefly in Kent but returned to live and work in London thereafter.
According to his obituarist Withers 'built and restored nearly a hundred churches in the United Kingdom' and particularly draws attention to St James, Great Grimsby. He also obtained some work abroad, notably the English churches at Brussels and Wildbad. He carried out numerous church restorations in South Wales where 'he imparted to many barn-like structures some semblance of artistic life and feeling'.
Withers was elected FRIBA in 1873. He was a long-standing member of the Cambridge Camden Society, having joined in 1844. In his private life he was a volunteer and rose to the rank of Captain in the Central London Rangers (40th Middlesex RV Gray's Inn). He was also a Freemason.
Withers died on 7 October 1894 after a short illness. He was predeceased by his wife but survived his sons and two of his daughters.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Sherborne, Dorset, England||Business||1847||1850|| |
|3 or 45, Winchester Street, Adelphi, London, England||Business||1850||1854|| |
|6, St John Street, Adelphi, London, England||Business||1854||1855|| |
|51, Doughty Street, London, England||Business||1855||1859|| |
|11, Adam Street, Adelphi, London, England||Business||1859||1884|| |
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
|This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date proposed||Notes|
|John Garrard Elgood||9 February 1849||for Associateship|
|Frederick Richard Wilson||1873||For Fellowship|
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|British Architectural Library, RIBA||2001||Directory of British Architects 1834-1914|| || || |
|Withers, Martin J (comp.)||2007||Robert Jewell Withers architect 1824-1894|| ||Unpublished research sent by email||Sent December 2007 (using Mabel Withers' notes on her father's life) and numerous other sources.|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Building News||October 1894|| || ||Obituary|