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Francis Smith of Warwick: Wikis


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Francis Smith of Warwick (1672–1738) was an English master-builder and architect, much involved in the construction of country houses in the Midland counties of England. Smith of Warwick may refer also to his brothers, or his son.


The architectural work

The county town of Warwick had been devastated by a fire in September 1694, and the projects involved in its rebuilding gave the Smith brothers their first prominence, which they retained for decades by a universal reputation for scrupulous honesty and competence. Howard Colvin, plotting their known commissions on a map, remarked that nearly all of them lay within a fifty-mile radius of their mason's yard, the "Marble House" in Warwick.

The antiquary the Hon. Daines Barrington noted in 1784, after viewing several Smith of Warwick houses, found "all of them convenient and handsome" despite changes in taste, but that "there is a great sameness in the plans, which proves he had but little Invention."[1] Colvin summarised the elements by which a Smith house is easily recognizable: three storeys, with the central three bays emphasized by a slight projection or recession; uniform fenestration with exterior detail confined to keystones, architraves, quoins and a balustraded parapet, which was the most significant modernisation of a formula derived in essence from the late seventeenth-century model typified by Belton House. In the plans there was invariably a hall backed by a saloon in the centre, with a staircase set to one side. In spite of some splendid effects achieved by plasterwork and joinery, Colvin noted that "the spatial effects are simple and unenterprising".[2]

Four exceptional houses did not conform to these conventions. They were Kedleston (demolished and replaced by the celebrated Robert Adam house; Chicheley Hall with William Kent, doubtless in part the design of its owner Sir John Chester, and his virtuosi friends;[3] Stoneleigh Abbey, "a somewhat inept attempt to use a giant order in the grand baroque manner" (Colvin) and Sutton Scarsdale (stripped of its interiors in the 1920s), where Colvin, comparing its assurance with Sutton Scarsdale's "gauche" crowded windows and "leggy pilasters", suspected some intervention by James Gibbs.


William Smith of Warwick (1661-1724), master-builder trained as a brick-layer, was his brother:[4] the brothers, who often worked in partnership and with the third brother Richard, were sons of a brick-layer and master builder, Francis Smith, of The Wergs, near Tettenhall, Staffordshire. By the time of William's death in 1724 they had become the most prominent designers and builders of houses in the Midlands[3].

William Smith of Warwick (1705-1747) was the next generation in the firm, son of Francis[5]. The business passed to William and David Hiorn[6].


He was a major employer, and some of his craftsmen were individually credited on a lead plaque formerly at Sutton Scarsdale:

  • Thomas Eborall, joiner
  • Joshua Needham, plasterer
  • Edward Poynton of Nottingham, stone carver[7]
  • John Wilkes, door furniture

Buildings (designed or worked on)


  • Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd ed. (Yale University Press) 1995, s.v. "Smith, Francis".
  • Andor Gomme (2000), Smith of Warwick. Francis Smith, Architect and Master-Builder


  1. ^ Quoted in Colvin 1995.
  2. ^ olvin 1995.
  3. ^ a b Colvin 1995.
  4. ^ 'Newcastle-under-Lyme: Churches', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 8 (1963), pp. 16-24. URL: Date accessed: 10 April 2008.
  5. ^ From: 'Thame : Topography, m, anors and estates', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 7: Dorchester and Thame hundreds (1962), pp. 160-178. URL: Date accessed: 10 April 2008.
  6. ^ From: 'The borough of Warwick: Economic and social history, 1545-1835', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8: The City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick (1969), pp. 504-514. URL: Date accessed: 10 April 2008.
  7. ^ John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Shropshire (2006), p. 146.
  8. ^ AOTLHG: The Big Houses
  9. ^ Welcome to Discovering Shropshire's History
  10. ^ Nikolaus Pevsner, Elizabeth Williamson, Derbyshire (1978), p. 119.
  11. ^ Bridgeman Art Library - Image Search
  12. ^ MK Council - Archaeology - MKWeb
  13. ^ Brewood - Introduction, manors and agriculture | British History Online
  14. ^ Cottesbrooke Hall & Gardens Northamptonshire
  15. ^ Evelyn Wallace-The Castle Lady Do you love castles?: Noble Northamptonshire
  16. ^ Nikolaus Pevsner, Elizabeth Williamson, Derbyshire (1978), p. 168.
  17. ^ Derby | The Derby Guide | Attractions in Derby
  18. ^ Dudmaston Hall Shropshire
  19. ^ Andor Gomme, Smith and Rossi, Architectural History, Vol. 35, (1992), pp. 183-191.
  20. ^ Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens on
  21. ^ Kelmarsh Hall, Kelmarsh, Northampton, NN6 9LY -
  22. ^ Parishes - Kirtlington | British History Online
  23. ^ Historic Houses Association
  24. ^ Lamport Hall Northamptonshire
  25. ^ Drury-Lowe family history - Family and Estate Resources - Manuscripts & Special Collections - The University of Nottingham
  26. ^ Mawley Hall - occupier Rupert Galliers-Pratt
  27. ^ Melbourne Hall - You and Yesterday | You and Yesterday
  28. ^ Nikolaus Pevsner, Alan Brooks, Worcestershire (2007), p. 508.
  29. ^ John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Shropshire (2006), p. 54.
  30. ^ St Mary's Church, Monmouth
  31. ^ From: 'Burton-upon-Trent: Established church', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9: Burton-upon-Trent (2003), pp. 107-130. URL: Date accessed: 10 April 2008.
  32. ^ Joan Thirsk, Peter J. Bowden, Christopher Clay, M. W. Barley, John Chartres, Chapters from the Agrarian history of England and Wales, 1500-1750 (1989), p. 123.
  33. ^ Parishes - Stoneleigh | British History Online
  34. ^ McCrea, Kenneth D
  35. ^ Current Concerns
  36. ^ The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire : Documents and Deeds

External links



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