William Burges ARA was an English architect and designer. Among the greatest of the Victorian art-architects, he sought in his work to escape from both nineteenth-century industrialisation and the Neoclassical architectural style. His most notable works are Cardiff Castle, constructed between 1866 and 1928, and Castell Coch, both of which were built for John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute.
About William Burges in brief
William Burges ARA was an English architect and designer. Among the greatest of the Victorian art-architects, he sought in his work to escape from both nineteenth-century industrialisation and the Neoclassical architectural style. Burges’s career was short but illustrious; he won his first major commission for Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork in 1863, when he was 35, and he died, in 1881, at his Kensington home, The Tower House, aged only 53. His architectural output was small but varied. He built churches, a cathedral, a warehouse, a university, a school, houses and castles. His most notable works are Cardiff Castle, constructed between 1866 and 1928, and Castell Coch, both of which were built for John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute. Other significant buildings include Gayhurst House, Buckinghamshire, Knightshayes Court, the Church of Christ the Consoler, St Mary’s, Studley Royal, in Yorkshire, and Park House, Cardiff. Many of his designs were never executed or were subsequently demolished or altered. For most of the century following his death, Victorian architecture was neither the subject of intensive study nor sympathetic attention. The revival of interest in Victorian art, architecture, and design in the later twentieth century led to a renewed appreciation of Burges and his work. In total Burges spent 18 months abroad developing his skills and drawing ideas that he used and re-used for the whole of his career.
Although he never went beyond Turkey, the art and architecture of the Far East, both Near and Far, had a significant impact on him; his fascination with Moorish design found ultimate expression in the Arab Room at Cardiff Castle. He died in Kensington, London, aged 53, and is buried at Kensington Cemetery, near his former home at St Paul’s, London. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and a son, William, who was born in 1827, and two daughters, Mary and Mary, who were both born in 1840, and Mary was married in 1851, and died in 1874, aged 83. He was buried at The Tower of London, next to his wife’s family home, which he had lived in since 1839. He also had a daughter, Mary Burges, who died in 1951, at the age of 83. Burge’s most notable work was Cardiff Castle in 1866, but he also worked on the Medieval Court for the Great Exhibition of 1851. His later work included metalwork, sculpture, jewellery, furniture and stained glass. His designs for Salisbury Cathedral, at Worcester College, Oxford, and at Knightshyes Court had been lost in the decades before. His lectures on Art Applied to Industry, a series of lectures he gave to the Society of Arts in 1864, illustrates the breadth of his interests; the topics covered including glass, pottery, brass and iron, gold and silver, furniture, the weaver’s art and external architectural decoration.