Anthony Salvin (1799-1881) was a prolific and highly regarded architect, in whose office John Loughborough Pearson, William Eden Nesfield (his nephew) and Richard Norman Shaw all acquired some of their intial training. According to Richard Holder and others, Salvin was born at Sunderland Bridge, Durham, but his biographer (and the online Dictionary of Scottish Architects) explain that he was born in Worthing, Sussex, and only taken to Durham in infancy (see Allibone xvii). He came from army families on both sides, but, instead of following in his father's footsteps, he became a pupil of the Scottish architect John Paterson, who was then engaged in restoring Brancepeth Castle, County Durham. An interest in castles and antiquities seemed assured. Later, Salvin moved to London, together with William Andrews Nesfield, his cousin by marriage, whose sister he married in 1826. At first, Salvin did some work for John Nash, at a time when Auguste Pugin, A. W. N. Pugin's father, was working for him. However, he seems to have been most influenced at that time by George Stanley Repton, who had also been working for Nash. Salvin became a fellow of RIBA in 1836.

The Round Church, Cambridge

From early on, Salvin worked in the Tudor style, as at Scotney Castle, and was an expert too on medieval architecture, establishing a reputation as a restorer of old castles. He was also in demand for university work, mainly in Durham and Cambridge. He became known for his church restorations as well, aiming like Sydney Smirke and Decimus Burton at the Temple Church, London, to "return the church to some previous ideal state" (Holder). Appointed to restore the Round Church, Cambridge, he was made an honorary member of the Cambridge Camden (later Ecclesiological) Society in 1841. He also built many new churches. Of equal or even more importance was his country house work: Salvin "designed many houses in which Elizabethan, seventeeenth-century and Tudor Gothic motifs were mixed with ideas of Picturesque composition and a scholarly attention to medieval domestic and military features" (Curl 80). Although his Tudor design for the new Palace of Westminster was not selected, it attracted favourable comment. Later he worked for some years (1856-67) on Windsor Castle. Mainly for work at the Tower of London, he was awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 1862.

Salvin's son, also called Anthony Salvin (1827-1881), assisted him in later years, but according to Jill Allibone there was a "decay of inventiveness" towards the end (viii), and he closed down the practice in 1879. Father and son both died in Worthing in 1881 — the son only months before his father. Richard Holder suggests that Salvin's work was like his character: "pragmatic and practical, financially careful, and conservative." — Jacqueline Banerjee



Allibone, Jill. Anthony Salvin: Pioneer of Gothic Revival Architecture. Cambridge: Lutterworth, 1988.

"Anthony Salvin". DSA: Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Web. 13 December 2011.

Curl, James Stevens. Victorian Architecture. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1990.

Holder, Richard. "Salvin, Anthony (1798-1881)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 13 December 2011.

Last modified 13 December 2011