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:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Sherborne, Dorset, EnglandBusiness18471850 
Item 2 of 53 or 45, Winchester Street, Adelphi, London, EnglandBusiness18501854 
Item 3 of 56, St John Street, Adelphi, London, EnglandBusiness18541855 
Item 4 of 551, Doughty Street, London, EnglandBusiness18551859 
Item 5 of 511, Adam Street, Adelphi, London, EnglandBusiness18591884 

Employment and Training

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 4Thomas Jerram Bailey1859c. 1864Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4Thomas Jerram Baileyc. 18641872Assistant 
Item 3 of 4Edward John MayAfter 1869Before 1876Assistant 
Item 4 of 4Frederick de Jersey Clere1875May 1877Assistant 


RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 2John Garrard Elgood9 February 1849for Associateship
Item 2 of 2Frederick Richard Wilson1873For Fellowship


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 2Withers, Martin J (comp.)2007Robert Jewell Withers architect 1824-1894 Unpublished research sent by emailSent December 2007 (using Mabel Withers' notes on her father's life) and numerous other sources.

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Building NewsOctober 1894  Obituary