Sir Ernest George

The following article appeared the Vauxhall Society's Newsletter in April 1985.

At our last meeting, on March 5th, members were privileged to hear, at first hand, the results of Brian Bloice's enthusiastic researches into the life and work of Sir Ernest George, one of the most successful of the later Victorian architects. It was the frequent references to Ernest George in historical documents of the Streatham area which had kindled Mr BIoice's interest in his work. Specialising in domestic buildings, his style was notable for the use of red brick and terracotta and his attention to details such as ironmongery, perhaps inherited from his father, a prosperous ironmonger.

Born on l3th June 1839, just off the New Kent Road, his family later moved to 36 Albert Square where he lived during his student days. At school he developed an interest in architecture and was articled to the architect Samuel Hewitt of the Adelphi, winning the Royal Academy Gold medal in his final year, 1859. In 1861 he went into partnership with Thomas Vaughan and later formed, with Harold Peto, one of the most successful architectural practices of his day.

Many eminent architects of future years served the practice as pupils including Edwin Lutyens. After he married in 1866 he moved to Crown Hill, Croydon, and in 1888, after his wife's death at the age of 34, he built 'Redroofs' in Ryecroft Road, overlooking Streatham Common, where he lived until 1903.

Amongst the many buildings he designed were 18-20 South Audley Street in 1876, the Beehive Coffee Tavern (recently listed) and Hambly Houses on Streatham Common 1877-79, houses in Harrington Gardens and Collingham Gardens, South Kensington, including one for W.S.Gilbert in 1881-65, 'Woolpits' at Ellhurst, Surrey, for Sir Henry Doulton in 1885, Golders Green Crematorium in 1905, and the Royal College of Music, Marylebone Road, in 1910. He was President of the RIBA from 1908 to 1910, receiving a knighthood in 1911, and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1917, retirinq in 1920 at the age of 81. He died in 1922.

For further information, see the monograph by Brian Bloice, published by the Southwark & Lambeth Archaeological Society Local History Group


It is interesting to note that Sir Ernest George had a connection with Dunedin in New Zealand which is also home to another Vauxhall!

Olveston (Dunedin New Zealand) designed by Sir Ernest George. Image Source : The Olveston ExperienceOlveston was designed for David Theomin by Sir Ernest George was and built between 1904 and 1906. The Jacobean style grace and grandeur of Olveston is distinguished by a wealth of decorative detail. It possessed a service lift linking all four storeys. The house was centrally heated and had an internal telephone system.

With grateful thanks to The Olveston Experience for the use of their image and text.