Albert Jenkins Humbert was born in Lambeth when it was still a part of Surrey. He is known to have studied in Italy with Charles Frederick Reeks, who had himself studied under James Pennethorne and Lewis Cubiitt. He entered into a partnership with Reeks in Hastings when they returned home, and the two designed the layout and houses for the crown estate there (1849 - c.1852), including Carlisle Parade. Another commission was to rebuild St Giles church in Bodiam in 1853. This was important, because it brought Humbert into contact with Thomas Cubitt, whose son-in-law was the rector there. Cubitt introduced Humbert to Prince Albert, with the result that he gained his first commission for the royal family to enlarge St Mildred's church on the Isle of Wight. This was where the Queen and Prince Albert worshipped while they were staying at Osborne House. In the early 60s, Humbert rebuilt the whole church for them, and designed a school there. At that time he was also working on Professor Ludwig Gruner's ideas for a mausoleum for the Duchess of Kent, Queen Victoria's mother, to be sited in the grounds of Frogmore House at Windsor. This was followed all too soon by the mausoleum for the prince himself, which Michael Turner describes as his masterpiece. Turner usefully explains the division of labour involved between Humbert and Professor Ludwig Gruner, who had been Prince Albert's artistic adviser: "He refined Gruner's proportions, and undertook all the working drawings," and was "primarily responsible for the details in Louis XVI style" as well. Humbert also designed the monument to Prince Albert at St Mildred's, subsequently carved by William Theed. Another commission for the royal family was to rebuild the newly acquired Sandringham House, Norfolk, for the future Edward VII. Humbert was conscientious rather than innovative, and Nigel Jones dismisses him rather unkindly as "an architect of great mediocrity" (250). But he was good at working up the ideas of important clients, and this made him an ideal architect who could reflect the taste of the royal family. — Jacqueline Banerjee, Associate Editor, Victorian Web



Jones, Nigel R. Architecture of England, Scotland, and Wales. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2005.

Turner, Michael. "Humbert, Albert Jenkins (1821-1877." The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Viewed 26 April 2010.

Last modified 4 October 2017