Biography

The architect William Henry Crossland (1835–1908) was born in Huddersfield, the son of a "respectable stone merchant" (Law, Part I). His father was successful enough to be able to arrange for him to become a pupil of the already flouishing architect, George Gilbert Scott. During his time with Scott, Crossland worked under him at Akroydon, near Halifax. This was a model village of Gothic design, intended by the idealistic Colonel Edward Akroyd (1810-1887) to bring the social classes together, to the betterment of the lower ones (see Curl 168). The large scale of this project, on which work began in 1861, was an indication of the major projects in which Crossland would later engage. The fact that his role here was to "work up the detail" for Scott's designs (Elliott) is also significant, in view of the rich detailing of his later work.

He was soon practising on his own account in Halifax, where he built and restored many churches, and worked for another important patron, Sir William Ramsden (1831-1914). In the early 1860s, he opened another office in Leeds, at one time practising from the then brand new and prestigious New Corn Exchange. The greatest achievement of these years in the north of England was, however, his design for the very impressive Rochdale Town Hall in Lancashire, for which he won the design competition in 1864. It was finally opened in 1871.

But London was calling, and Crossland's next important patron was Thomas Holloway, for whom he "designed with tremendous success and gusto" the two grand buildings which bear his name: Royal Holloway College (now Royal Holloway University of London) and the Holloway Sanatorium — which is now, after a mix of restoration and conversion, the Virginia Park gated residential community (Nairn and Pevsner 66). Both are are within the boundaries of present-day Surrey, just a short way away from each other.

As for his personal life, in 1859, Crossland had married Lavinia Cardwell Pigot (1837–1879) at St Pancras Old Church, but before her death he had already taken a young mistress. She too predeceased him. He had one daughter by his wife and several children by the mistress, an actress called Ruth Elizabeth Hatt, née Tilley (1853–1892). His last years were rather sad. After his success with the Holloway projects, he sank almost without trace, although his biographers do know that he had a stroke in his lodgings near Regent's Park, and died on 14 November 1908. According to John Elliott, he left a paltry £29.00.

Works

Bibliography

"British Architects." Building News and Engineering Journal, Vol. 58. 7 February 1890: following p. 222. Google Books. Web. 23 September 2021.

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

Elliott, John. "Crossland, William Henry (1835–1908), architect." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 23 September 2021.

Law, Edward. "William Henry Crossland, Architect, 1835-1908. Part 1." (Introduction and his Huddersfield origins). Huddersfield and District History. Web. 24 September 2021.

_____. "William Henry Crossland, Architect, 1835-1908. Part 2." (Training in London and practice in Halifax and Leeds). Huddersfield and District History. Web. 24 September 2021.

_____. "William Henry Crossland, Architect, 1835-1908. Part 3." (Practice in London, travels and family). Huddersfield and District History. Web. 24 September 2021.

Nairn, Ian, and Nikolaus Pevsner and Bridget Cherry. Surrey. Buildings of England series. 2nd ed. rev. by Cherry. London: Penguin, 1971.


Created 24 September 2021