Basic Biographical Details

Name: Alexander Roos
Designation: Architect
Born: c. 1810
Died: 30 June 1881
Bio Notes: Alexander Roos was born about 1810 at Orti di Sallustio, Rome, apparently the son of Karl Roos (1776-1836), a German cabinetmaker who had set up business in Rome. By the age of eighteen he was making refined antiquarian drawings in the neighbourhood of Rome and probably between 1829 and 1832 he was a pupil of Karl Friedrich Schinkel in Berlin, returning to Italy to make copies of the painted decoration found at Pompeii in 1833. By 1835 he was in England, designing and executing Pompeian decoration at Hadzow House, Worcestershire for the banker J H Galton. This led to two major architectural commissions, the reconstruction of The Deepdene in Surrey as a great Roman villa for Henry Thomas Hope and the remodelling of Bedgebury in Kent as an Italianate pile for General Viscount Beresford, both in 1836-41. Other work quickly followed at Shrubland, Suffolk, and at 4 Carlton Gardens, London.

From 1843 Roos had an extensive Scottish practice, Galton having recommended him to Onesiphorus Tyndall Bruce for the chimneypieces, decorative work and parterres at House of Falkland, then building to the designs of William Burn: with Burn Roos had a happy working relationship, leading to similar work at Whitehill in Midlothian and at Revesby in Lincolnshire and possibly elsewhere, work in Ireland (Dartrey?) being recorded in May 1848 and in Inverness-shire (Poltalloch?) in May 1849. In the same year (1843) as his introduction to Tyndall Bruce Roos was commissioned to alter and redecorate Auldbar for the antiquarian Patrick Chalmers and from 1844 he carried out extensive garden and decorative work at Drayton, Northamptonshire.

In 1845 the Second Marquess of Bute appointed Roos architect to his South Wales estates on the recommendation of Tyndall Bruce, and when the Marquess died in 1848 he was one of the two trustees who managed the estate on behalf of the infant Third Marquess, events which necessarily curtailed his private practice. He laid out much of Cardiff, designing Cathays Park, the Sailor's Home and many houses and villas, but his activities came to an abrupt halt I 1868 when the Third Marquess came of age and dismissed him.

This event seems to have resulted in Roos retiring at the early age of fifty-eight as he no longer had any other private clients. He was, however, rather well off: when he died in London on 30 June 1881 he left the substantial moveable estate of £27,663. He appears to have been unmarried, leaving £5,000 to his sister Emilia 'widow Bonin' in Rome and most of the residue to his friend Edward Sayer of Oak Lodge, Finchley. The Dowager Marchioness of Bute described him as 'very agreeable and gentlemanlike as well as clever in his profession'. Whether he carried out any work on the Bute estate in Scotland is not yet known.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1London, EnglandBusiness   

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 91840sAuldbar Estate, Gothic bower  AngusScotland 
Item 2 of 91840sHouse of FalklandFalkland FifeScotlandAdvised on original interior (carried out by D R Hay & Co), laid out parterres and repaired new bridge at pleasure grounds
Item 3 of 91843Auldbar Castle  AngusScotland 
Item 4 of 91843Gask HouseGask PerthshireScotlandMade designs for terrace and garden
Item 5 of 91843WhitehillRosewell MidlothianScotlandGardens and planting
Item 6 of 91849Falkland Estate, Temple of Decision, GreenhillFalkland FifeScotland 
Item 7 of 9Before 1854Auldbar Castle, Gothic LodgeAuldbar AngusScotland 
Item 8 of 91856FountainFalkland FifeScotland 
Item 9 of 9Mid 1800sBlack BaronyEddleston PeeblesshireScotlandWalled garden and gothic summerhouse (later destroyed), possibly frieze and pediment on east façade of house and painted decoration in saloon


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 5Colvin, H M Introducing Alexander Roos Gow, I and Rowan, A (eds): Scottish Country Houses 1600-1914, pp276-284 
Item 2 of 5Croft- Murray, Edward1970Decorative painting in England 1537-1837  Volume 2, p271
Item 3 of 5Garnier, Richard2006Alexander Roos Soane Museum Study Group Lecture, 28 February 2006 
Item 4 of 5Garnier, Richard2006Alexander Roos c1810-1881 Georgian Society Journal, vol XV, pp11-68 
Item 5 of 5RIBA RIBA drawings catalogue   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Birmingham Central LibraryGalton Papers  
Item 2 of 2National Archives of Scotland (formerly SRO)Gifts and deposits Tyndall Bruce papers GD 152/53/4, 5, 6, 7, 196, 197