Catalogue description Burton collection

This record is held by Hastings Museum and Art Gallery

Details of HASMG
Reference: HASMG
Title: Burton collection

The archive contains over one hundred architectural drawings by James and Decimus Burton dating from c.1785 to c.1855. These relate to projects in Regents Park, Hyde Park, Swiss Cottage and The Strand in London, as well as houses in Kent, the new town of Fleetwood in Lancashire and the development of St. Leonards on Sea in Sussex.


There are twenty one portraits of members of the Burton family including James Burton, Decimus Burton and James Haliburton the Egyptologist [1788-1862] who was the second son of James Burton. The portraits include watercolour sketches by Rose and Emily Wood, oil and pastel studies, photographs and lithographs.


Legal documents include conveyances between James Burton and the trustees of the Eversfield estate for the purchase of land at St. Leonards 1827-1834, as well as baptismal, marriage and burial certificates relating to James Burton and his children.


The Museum has a small notebook written by James Burton giving an account of his life between 1783 and 1811.


There are five letters from James Burton, 1813-1831, one from Decimus Burton dating from 1834 and two relating to Alfred Burton 1834 and 1877.


The fifteen scrap albums contain watercolours, portraits, silhouettes, photographs, autographs, cartoons, press cuttings about the Wellington arch and printed material relating to the life of the Burton family throughout the 19th century.

Date: c.1785-c.1880
Held by: Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Hastings Museum and Art Gallery

Burton family of Hastings, Sussex

Physical description: 7 boxes and 9 outsize volumes
  • Hastings, East Sussex
  • Architecture
Administrative / biographical background:

James Burton [1761-1836], his children Decimus Burton [1800-1881], Eliza Burton [1786-1877] and Jane Wood [1792-1879], and his grandchildren Emily Wood [1815-1892], Rose Wood [born 1818] and Edgar Burton [born 1849]


James Burton [1761-1837] was one of the most significant builder of Georgian London, responsible for large areas of Bloomsbury, as well as St. Johns Wood and Clapham Common. He also collaborated with John Nash on Regents Park. In 1828 he started building a new seaside town at St. Leonards on the Sussex coast near Hastings based closely on his experiences at Regents Park. Although primarily a builder James Burton designed many of his own works and examples of these drawings survive in the Hastings Museum.


His son, Decimus Burton [1800-1881] was a successful 19th century architect, designing buildings in and around Regents Park as well as the Wellington Arch and Hyde Park Screen and the Palm and Temperate houses at Kew. He was responsible for the layout of London Zoo, Hyde Park and Kew Gardens and built country villas in the classical and gothic style. He also carried out town planning schemes at Calverley Park Tunbridge Wells and Fleetwood in Lancashire. In 1850 Decimus began a second phase of building at St. Leonards on Sea.


The collection was acquired from various descendants of James Burton, staring in 1903 with material from the estate of Burton's granddaughter, Helen Wood, Miss Wood died in that year at North Lodge, the house in which she had lived since its construction by James Burton in 1830.


Between 1947 and 1960 seven further donations were made by other family members including Miss Mabel Ayscough, the Misses Helen and Constance Pott and Mr. John Fearon, all grandchildren of Jessy Fearon [1804-1844] the youngest daughter of James Burton.


In 1983, and shortly before his death in 1997, a small collection of archives was given by the St. Leonards historian, Barry Funnell.


In 1997 the Hastings Museum was helped by the Heritage Lottery Fund to acquire 15 scrap album put together by the daughters and granddaughters of James Burton. These included drawings by Decimus Burton and appear to have been handed down through the Ayscough and Pott families.

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