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St Aubyn, James Piers, (1815-1895), architect

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Surname: St Aubyn
Forenames: James Piers
Gender: Male
Date: 1815-1895
History: James Piers St Aubyn was an English architect of the Victorian era who was often referred to simply as J.P. St Aubyn. He was born at Powick Vicarage, Worcestershire, the home of his maternal grandfather, on 6 April 1815. St Aubyn was the second son of the Rev. Robert Thomas St Aubyn and his wife, Frances Fleming St John, and a cousin of Sir John St. Aubyn (later 1st Lord St. Levan) of St. Michael’s Mount (Cornwall). Known to his family and friends by his second Christian name of Piers, he was educated at Penzance Grammar School before beginning his studies in architecture. He was articled to Thomas Fulljames (1808-74) in Gloucester and acted as clerk of works for the latter’s Edwards College, South Cerney (Glos) in 1838-39. He was elected to the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1837, on the nomination of George Basevi, Edward Blore and William Railton, and became a Fellow of the Institute in 1856, proposed by Benjamin Ferrey, G.G. Scott, and F.C. Penrose. He twice served on the Council of the Institute (in 1858-60 and 1870-72). He was Surveyor to the Middle Temple from 1851 until 1885, and practised from Lambe Buildings in the Temple for much of his career. From c.1885 onwards, when he seems to have semi-retired, St. Aubyn worked in partnership with Henry John Wadling (d.1918), who entered his office as a pupil in 1858 and remained as his assistant and managing clerk. St. Aubyn died on 7 May 1895 at Chy-an-Eglos, Marazion (Cornwall), and is buried on St. Michael’s Mount. H.J. Wadling succeeded to his practice, and continued to trade as “St. Aubyn & Wadling”. St. Aubyn was undoubtedly assisted in developing his career by his family’s prominence in Devon and Cornwall, and particularly in Devonport, where they were the major landowners. He practised chiefly in London and developed a practice which extended all over southern England, but he also kept an office in Devonport for part of his career, and he was employed particularly extensively in Devon and Cornwall. Apart from this local connection, there are clusters of his work in Gloucestershire (no doubt deriving from his years in Fulljames’ office), Kent, Reading, Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire. He was primarily a church architect, building a considerable number of new churches and undertaking even more restorations. His church work was firmly in the Gothic mainstream of his time, rarely departing from the forms and decoration of the Decorated period, and lacks much originality or flair. His churches at All Saints, Reading and St Mary, Tyndalls Park, Bristol, are notably similar. His restorations often amounted to wholesale or partial rebuilding, and were seen by later generations as unnecessarily brutal; Sir John Betjeman was among St Aubyn's 20th century detractors. St. Aubyn also designed a number of country houses, mostly in a rather cheerless early Gothic style. The one whimsical building he is known to have designed is the clock tower in the grounds of Abberley Hall, c.1883. His greatest professional disappointment was his failure to secure the commission to build Truro Cathedral, which he lost by one vote to J.L. Pearson: his designs for the Cathedral were published in Building News, 20 Dec. 1878. His most notable achievement was the restoration of St Michael's Mount, described by Nigel Nicolson as: "among the greatest achievements of 19th century architecture". List of major works: St. Illogan, Illogan(Cornw), 1846; Siddington rectory (Glos), 1847; Holy Trinity, Cerney Wick (Glos), 1847-48; Stoke Canon rectory (Devon), 1848-51; St Paul, Devenport (Devon), 1849; St James the Great, Devonport (Devon), 1849-51; additions to south court, St Michael's Mount (Cornw), 1850; St Mary, Devonport (Devon), 1850; Horsley vicarage (Glos), 1850-52; St Stephen, Devonport (Devon), 1852; Devonport Market House (Devon), 1852; Holy Trinity, Penponds (Cornw), 1854; St James the Less, Plymouth (Devon), 1854-61; St John, Clay Hill, Enfield (Middx), 1857; Christ Church, Latchingdon (Essex), 1857; Delamore House (Devon), 1859-60, 1876; All Saints, Marazion (Cornw), 1861; Goldsmith's Building, Middle Temple (London), 1861; St Andrew, Thringstone (Leics), 1862; St Mary, Widford (Essex), 1862; remodelling of Pentre, Newchapel (Pembs), 1863, 1879; St Bartholomew, Cross-in-Hand (Sussex), 1863-64; Midelney Place (Somerset), 1863-66; Haddington Road Bible Christian Chapel, Devonport (Devon), 1864; St Mark, Gillingham (Kent), 1864-66; alterations to The Abbey, Ditcheat (Somerset), 1864-68 [attributed]; St Stephen, Treleigh, Redruth (Cornw), 1865; St Peter, Selsey (Sussex), 1865; Holy Innocents, Tuck Hill (Salop), 1865; All Saints, Downshire Sq., Reading (Berks), 1865-74; St John the Evangelist, Halse Town, St. Ives (Cornw), 1866; Holy Trinity, Mossford Green, Barkingside (Middx), 1867; St Clement, Notting Dale, Kensington (Middx), 1867-69; Glebe House, Hardwicke (Glos), 1870; St Mary, Tyndalls Park, Bristol (Glos), 1870-81; chapel at Maristow (Devon), 1871; Greenhurst (Surrey), 1871-74; alterations to Chalcot House, Dilton Marsh (Wilts), 1872-76; loggia at Mersham-le-Hatch (Kent), 1872; St Michael & All Angels, Galleywood Common (Essex), 1873; St Giles, Reading (Berks), 1873; addition of SE wing to St Michael's Mount (Cornw), 1874-80; additions to St Peter, Belsize Park (Middx), 1875; chancel, St Luke, Onslow Road, Southampton (Hants), 1875; nave, St Giles, Marston Montgomery (Derbys), 1875-77; Clare vicarage (Suffk), 1878; designs for Truro Cathedral, 1878-80 [unexecuted]; 33 Essex St., Westminster (Middx), 1880; St Peter, Noss Mayo (Devon), 1880-82; Ely Theological College (Cambs), 1881; Pencalenick House (Cornw), 1881; St John, Aylesbury (Bucks), 1881-83; new chambers, Brick Court, Middle Temple (London), 1882; St Luke, Reading (Berks), 1882; St Gluvais church (Cornw), 1882-83; St Peter, Rose Ash (Devon), 1882-92; alterations to Abberley Hall (Worcs) and clock tower in grounds, c1883; St Michael, Silverstone (Northants), 1884; Garden Court, Middle Temple (London), 1884-85; Gamlingay Heath church (Cambs), 1885; All saints, Trythall, Gulval (Cornw), 1885; Anstie House (Cornw), date unknown; St Barnabas, Devonport (Devon), date unknown; alterations to Rousham House (Oxon), date unknown. Works after 1885 designed in partnership with H.J. Wadling include St Sylvester, Tetworth (Hunts), 1886; Muntham, Itchingfield (Sussex), 1887; St Peter, Ely (Cambs), 1890; St Peter, Sheringham (Nfk), 1895, completed by Henry Wadling after his death. Church restorations: BEDFORDSHIRE: Ampthill, 1877 BUCKINGHAMSHIRE: Weston Turville, 1879; Marsh Gibbon, 1879-80; Maids Moreton, 1882-87; Stone, 1883-90 CAMBRIDGESHIRE: Soham, 1879-80; Gamlingay, 1880-81; Castle Camps, 1882; Little Abington, 1885; Little Gransden, 1885-88; Teversham, 1888-92 CORNWALL: Sennen, 1847; St. Agnes, 1848; Godolphin, 1849-51; Mawgan-in-Meneage, 1855; Kenwyn, 1860-62; Lesnewth, 1862-65; Lanivet, 1865; St. Keyne, 1868-77; Minster, 1869-71; Tintagel, 1870; Hessenford, 1870-71; St. Minver, 1870-75; St. Breock, 1880-82; Perranarworthal, 1884; Ludgvan, 1887-88; Mevagissey, 1887-88; Werrington, 1891; St. Germans, 1891-93; Gulval, 1892; Callington, date unknown; St. Issey, date unknown DERBYSHIRE: Duffield, 1846; Cubley, 1872-74 DEVON: Stoke Fleming, 1871; Dawlish, 1874; St. Giles-on-the-Heath, 1878 GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Daglingworth, 1845-51; South Cerney, 1861-62; Standish, 1867; Owlpen, 1874-75; Dursley, 1888-89 HAMPSHIRE: Sherborne St. John, 1854, 1866-84 HEREFORDSHIRE: Cusop, date unknown KENT: Cliffe, 1864; Boughton-under-Blean, 1871; Lympne, 1878-80; Harbledown, 1880; Sheldwich, 1888 LEICESTERSHIRE: Whitwick, 1848-50; Holy Trinity, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 1866; Ashby Parva, 1866; Appleby Magna, 1870-72; St. Helen, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 1878-80 LINCOLNSHIRE: Theddlethorpe All Saints, 1885 LONDON: Temple church, 1862 NORTHAMPTONSHIRE: Maidwell, 1891 NOTTINGHAMSHIRE: Eakring, 1880-81 SUFFOLK: Little Glemham, 1857-58; Woolverstone, 1888-89; Sternfield, date unknown SURREY: Addington, 1876
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/P163120 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/P38688 )
Online related resources Artists' Paper Register link for James Piers St Aubyn
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1880: plans for Pencalenick, Cornwall
Archives and Cornish Studies Service (formerly Cornwall Record Office)
NRA 4996 Williams

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