Walter Granville (1819-1874) was among those professionals who "benefited from the wealth, success, and international reach of the British Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century" (Welch et al. 75). One of the most successful architects working in India during the Victorian period, he left behind him a fine legacy of landmark buildings in what was then the second city of Empire — Calcutta (present-day Kolkata).
Granville had an illustrious background. He was the fourth son of the distinguished Augustus Bozzi Granville (1783-1872), who was born in Milan and led a colourful life — one of his adventures having been to help oversee the acquisition of the Elgin marbles. After leaving medical service in the Turkish and then Royal Navies, Augustus Bozzi, who had used his English grandmother's surname from early manhood, settled in Berkeley Square, London, and practised for many years as a gynaecologist and obstetrician. A long-time fellow of the Royal Society, he wrote a book urging its reform, as well as a number of accounts of his travels and medical researches.
Augustus sent all four sons to St Paul's School, where the Admission Registers record the fourth, Walter, as being admitted at the age of 8 in 1826. The registers' brief biographical note here tells us that Walter went on to the École Polytechnique in Paris, eventually becoming Architect to the Government of India (Gardiner 274). (One of his brothers became a civil and hydraulic engineer in New York.) Walter's sister, Patricia, when editing her father's autobiography, adds a little to this account of her architect brother, explaining that:
He resided in India, chiefly in Calcutta, for more than twelve years, where his services were engaged for the purpose of designing and constructing the large public buildings required by the government. Retiring from his profession on his return to England in 1870, he only survived his father one year and ten months, dying suddenly in the prime of life, of disease of the heart, January 10th, 1874, beloved, esteemed, and regretted by all who knew him. (108)
Other sources supply the detail that Granville's first assignment in India was with the railway: "he worked for the Eastern Bengal Railway from 1858-63" (Welch et all. 82); and generally stress that he was appointed Consultant Architect to the Government of India specifically in order to design "major civic institutions for the capital of the Raj" (Bach 115). This remit he ably fulfilled, designing magnificent buildings for the High Court, the General Post Office and the Indian Museum there. Sadly, his complex of buildings for Calcutta University was demolished in 1861 — "a civic tragedy, perpetrated by an institution which ought to have known better" (Davies 207). Nevertheless, considering his relatively short career, Granville left a great legacy. He was certainly one of the foremost, if not the foremost, among "Anglo-Indian architects of distinguished talent" (Morris 24). — Jacqueline Banerjee
- The General Post Office, Kolkata (1864-68)
- The High Court, Kolkata (1872)
- The Indian Museum, Kolkata (1875)
Bach, Brian Paul. Calcutta's Edifice: The Buildings of a Great City. Kolkata: Rupa, 2006.
Davies, Philip. Splendours of the Raj: British Architecture in India, 1160-1947. London: Penguin, 1987.
Gardiner, Rev. Robert Barlow. The Admission Registers of St Paul's School, from 1748-1876. London: G. Bell, 1884. Internet Archive. Web. 1 February 2013.
Granville, Augustus Bozzi. Autobiography of Augustus Bozzi Granville, M.D., FRS, — being Eighty-Eight Years of the Life of a Physician. Ed. Patricia B. Granville. London: Henry S. King, 1874. Internet Archive. Web. 1 February 2013.
Howell, W. B. "Augustus Bozzi Granville — Journeyman Physician." CMAJ . JAMC (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Vol. 25 (6), Dec. 1931: 719-25. Web. 1 February 2013.
Morris, Jan, with Simon Winchester. Stones of Empire: The Buildings of the Raj. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.
Welch, Anthony, Martin Segger and Nicholas DeCaro. "Building for the Raj: Richard Roskell Bayne." RRCAR (Canadian Art Review). XXXIV: 2 (2009): 74-86. Web. 1 February 2013.
Last modified 1 February 2013