Nicholas Hawksmoor  
Nicholas Hawksmoor
Nicholas Hawksmoor, (born c. 1661, probably at East Drayton, Nottinghamshire, Eng.—died March 25, 1736, London), English architect whose association with Sir Christopher Wren and Sir John Vanbrugh long diverted critical attention from the remarkable originality of his own Baroque designs for churches and other institutional buildings.

Hawksmoor began to work for Wren about 1679 and owed his professional advancement in part to the political influence of the elder architect. He aided Wren in building St. Paul’s Cathedral (completed 1710) in London and Vanbrugh in constructing Castle Howard (1699–1726) in Yorkshire and Blenheim Palace (1705–25) in Oxfordshire. On Wren’s death (1723), Hawksmoor became surveyor general (chief architect) of Westminster Abbey, the west towers of which were built (1734–45) to his design. Earlier (from 1692) he was responsible for various university buildings at Oxford.

In October 1711 Hawksmoor was appointed one of two surveyors (architects) to a commission to build 50 new churches in the Cities of London and Westminster and their immediate environs. In this capacity he designed, among other churches, the four on which his reputation as a Baroque genius mainly rests: St. Anne (1714–24; consecrated in 1730) in Limehouse, St. George-in-the-East (1714–29) in Wapping Stepney, Christ Church (1714–29) in Spitalfields, and St. Mary Woolnoth (1716–24) in the City of London.

Hawksmoor knew medieval and Classical architectural principles, and he worked from them in imaginative and idiosyncratic ways. Within massive geometric solids, he created surprising details indoors, with changes from room to room, for example, and outdoors, as with unusually grouped and shaped windows or the manipulation of shadow patterns. Although in some works he made reference in details to the newly fashionable Palladianism, his importance lies in his representation of the English Baroque style.

Encyclopζdia Britannica
Hawksmoor's six London churches

In 1711, parliament passed an Act for the building of Fifty New Churches in the Cities of London and Westminster or the Suburbs thereof, which established a commission which included Christopher Wren, John Vanburgh, Thomas Archer and a number of churchmen. The commission appointed Hawksmoor and William Dickinson as its surveyors. As supervising architects they were not necessarily expected to design all the churches themselves. Dickinson left his post in 1713 and was replaced by James Gibbs. Gibbs was removed in 1716 and replaced by John James. James and Hawksmoor remained in office until the commission was wound up in 1733. The declining enthusiasm of the Commission, and the expense of the buildings, meant that only twelve churches were completed, six designed by Hawksmoor, and two by James in collaboration with Hawksmoor. The two collaborations were St Luke Old Street (1727–33) and St John Horsleydown (1727–33), to which Hawksmoor's contribution seems to have been largely confined to the towers with their extraordinary steeples.
The six churches wholly designed by Hawksmoor are his best-known independent works of architecture. They compare in their complexity of interpenetrating internal spaces with contemporaneous work in Italy by Francesco Borromini. Their spires are essentially Gothic outlines executed in innovative and imaginative Classical detail. Although Hawksmoor and John James terminated the commission by 1733, they were still being paid "for carrying on and finishing the works under their care" until James's death.

St Alphege's Greenwich (1712–18), from the north-east

St Alphege's Greenwich (1712–18), the east front

Christ Church Spitalfields (1714–29), west front

Christ Church Spitalfields (1714–29), east front

St. Anne's Limehouse (1714–30), west front

St. George in the East (1714–29), the west front

St. George in the East (1714–29), from the south-west

St. George in the East (1714–29), detail of south wall

St. George's Bloomsbury (1716–1731), the tower

St. Mary Woolnoth (1716–23), the west front

St. Luke's Old Street (1727–33), joint work with John James, tower by Hawksmoor

Westminster Abbey, towers by Nicholas Hawksmoor

Easton Neston House (c.1695–1710)

King William Block (1699–1702), Greenwich Hospital, looking south-east

Clarendon Building (1712–13), Oxford, from the north-east

All Souls College (1716–34), Oxford, from the south-west


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