Basic Biographical Details

Name: Roger Morris
Designation: Architect
Born: 19 April 1695
Died: 31 January 1749
Bio Notes: Roger Morris was born in London on 19 April 1695, the son of Owen Morris. He is said to have been involved as a foreman bricklayer in the building of Hanover and Grosvenor Squares. The first record of his work as a builder was in 1724 when he took the lease of a plot of land on the Harley estate in Oxford Street and built a house for himself. He still described himself as a bricklayer at that date. By 1730 when he built a larger house for himself in Green Street he was described by the rate collector as a ‘gentleman’. He was later involved in speculative building developments in Argyll Street, London in 1736 and on the approaches to Westminster Bridge, London in 1740-42.

Morris’s career was inextricably linked to two architects, Colen Campbell and Henry Herbert, the ‘Earl Architect’ of Pembroke. Morris may be responsible for drawings of Goodwood House published by Campbell in ‘Vitruvius Britannicus’. Morris also made a variant drawing of Campbell’s design for Pembroke House, Whitehall and acted on Campbell’s behalf regarding the building of the stables at Studley Royal shortly before Campbell’s death. About this time Campbell was critical of two drawings by Morris describing them as ‘very ugly’ and ordered him to correct a third drawing. It appears therefore the Morris acted as Campbell’s assistant at some points.

It may have been through Campbell that Morris met the future Earl of Pembroke. He collaborated with the Earl on various projects including Marble hill, Wimbledon House and the Palladian bridge at Wilton. The earl valued his services highly and presented him with a silver cup in 1734 with an inscription added by Morris indicating he was much in the Earl’s debt. Because of the connections to Campbell and the Earl of Pembroke, Morris was able to attract a wide range of clients. He was known for the accuracy of his estimates. Between June 1731 and sometime in 1732 he made a foreign tour and from a drawing by him of Palladio’s house in Vicenza, we can conclude that he spent time in Italy.

In 1727 he had secured the newly created post of Clerk of Works at Richmond New Park Lodge and in 1734 he was appointed Master Carpenter to the Office or Ordnance. This he probably owed to the 2nd Duke of Argyll who was Master-General of the Ordnance from 1725-40. Morris had recently undertaken the enlargement of Adderbury House for the Duke. The latter appointment was highly remunerative. At the time of his death he was also Surveyor to the Mint, an appointment he may have owed to Sir Andrew Fountaine, Warden of the Mint since 1727.

Although he had a close association with Colen Campbell and the Earl of Pembroke he was not always an orthodox Palladian. Marble Hill and the White Lodge at Richmond were Palladian but elsewhere his style was individualistic – for example at Combe Bank and at Whitton Place – and used features such as pyramidal roofs, ‘oeil-de-boeuf’ windows, and distinctive porches. Some elements he borrowed from Vanbrugh (in the arcaded wings at Adderbury) and from Inigo Jones (the Tuscan porch at Althorp derived from Jones’ St Paul’s Convent Garden). His two castellated houses, Clearwell (c.1728) and Inveraray (1745) are remarkable. Clearwell is unique for its simple massing of genuine medieval domestic architecture. Inveraray was symmetrical and spawned a vast number of Georgian castles. It may be related to a sketch which Vanbrugh made for Inveraray. Morris was a significant player the history of neo-medieval architecture in Britain.

Morris married twice: first to Mary who died in 1729 by whom he had two sons and then to Elizabeth Jackson in 1731, daughter of Sir Philip Jackson of Richmond, Surrey, by whom he had one son and four daughters. His eldest son succeeded him in the post of Master Carpenter to the Ordnance and lived as a gentleman in Surrey. His daughters all married well.

Morris died on 31 January 1749.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2Oxford Street, London, EnglandPrivate1724  
Item 2 of 2Green Street, London, EnglandPrivate1730  

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 61742Blair CastleBlair Atholl PerthshireScotlandDrew up plans for coach-house and stable
Item 2 of 61742Blair Castle, Coach-house and stableBlair Atholl PerthshireScotlandDesigns drawn up
Item 3 of 61744Rosneath Castle  DunbartonshireScotlandDrawings probably by Morris dated 1744, 1747 - for remodelling
Item 4 of 61745Inveraray CastleInveraray ArgyllScotland 
Item 5 of 61747Inveraray Castle Estate, Garron Bridge  ArgyllScotland 
Item 6 of 6c. 1747Glamis Castle  AngusScotlandMonumental stables and offices - possibly by Morris


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 5Burke2001Burke's Landed Gentry of Great Britain: the Kingdom of Scotland19th edition Entries under 'Morris of York' or 'Morris of Netherby'
Item 2 of 5Draper, Marie P G1970Marble Hill House  pp17-19
Item 3 of 5Hogg, F G1963The Royal Arsenal  volume i, p285
Item 4 of 5Parissien, Steven1989The Careers of Roger and Robert Morris D.Phil thesis, Oxford (unpulished) 
Item 5 of 5Survey of London Survey of London  xxxi, p284, 290

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 6Builder1875xxxiii pp881-2
Item 2 of 6Burlington Magazine1969xxxi pp189-190 Article by G L M Goodfellow
Item 3 of 6Country Life25 February 1944   
Item 4 of 6Country Life17 March 1944   
Item 5 of 6Country Life24 March 1944   
Item 6 of 6Country Life7 April 1944   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1PROWills49, Lisle