Page created 15 September 2001
WILLIAM HENRY CROSSLAND, ARCHITECT, 1835-1908.
(Practice in London, travels and family.)
It may have been the financial security which had come from the Rochdale Town Hall and Ramsden estate office commissions which led Crossland to open an office in London, the earliest notice of which is April 1869. As in his previous move from Halifax to Leeds it appears to have been a phased move with offices in both Leeds and London initially and the practice moved entirely to London by June 1870. His offices were at 2 Carlton Chambers, Regent Street, in which building Scott had commenced practice. His home, at the time of the 1871 census, was 12 Park Village West, near Regents Park, a pretty but sophisticated development by Nash: a previous occupant of the house had been Dr James Johnson, who was physician to William IV.
No evidence has been seen of any works in or around London apart from Holloway's asylum and college, and the truth may be that Crossland undertook no other major commissions in the south: significantly perhaps, a list of his works in Building News in 1890 gives none. He continued to obtain commissions in the provinces, notably at Huddersfield for the Ramsdens, and fees from those and from Rochdale Town Hall continued to accrue down to 1874 when he started to earn substantial fees at the Virginia Water asylum. There is virtually no evidence of the extent of Crossland's practice. He had a principal assistant, Mr A J Taylor, who dealt with correspondence and no doubt the general business of the office in Crossland's frequent absences and who accompanied him to France in 1873. At about that time he had at least two more assistants, for he records a four week visit to Cambridge with three assistants. No doubt by that time he was able to command substantial premiums for training up architectural pupils.
We know that Crossland was in London by 4th May 1869. On that day he submitted his application for membership of the Junior Carlton Club, a club which required members to adhere to Conservative principles and to acknowledge the leaders of the Conservative party. The form of application gives his London residence as 4 Regent Street, his country residence being Roundhay, Leeds. The signature of his proposer has not been deciphered, it could be Robert Monach; his seconder was J M Sagar Musgrave. The latter, John Musgrave Sagar Musgrave was Lord of the Manors of Roundhay, Seacroft and Shadwell and lived at Red Hall, Shadwell, near Leeds. It seems likely that there was a waiting list for admittance to the club for Crossland was not elected a member until almost three years later, on 5th March 1872.
By 1871 Thomas Holloway had resolved to lay out some of the fortune he had made from his patent medicines, ointments and pills, on the establishment of an asylum for the mentally sick of the middle classes. In February of that year he had a meeting with the Commissioners in Lunacy, who entered warmly into his plans and promised every assistance to produce a model building. The Commissioners suggested that the best results would be obtained by submitting the plans to competition of a limited number of architects. Holloway felt they were right and resolved to invite six or seven architects to compete. Whilst he seems to have had some quite fixed feelings about architectural style he was no expert, and sought out Professor Donaldson and T H Wyatt to assist him in connection with the competition. Thomas Leverton Donaldson (1795-1885) was one of the foremost members of the architectural profession, he had been the first Professor of Architecture at University College, London, and was a co-founder of the R.I.B.A., being President in 1863-4. Thomas Henry Wyatt (1807-1880) was another distinguished architect, who had been President of the R.I.B.A. in 1870. Both Donaldson and Wyatt received some recompense for their services, the former had 100 guineas and the latter 25 guineas. Crossland in fact recorded that Wyatt and Donaldson were architects for the Commissioners in Lunacy, he also noted that Holloway had a third advisor, George Godwin, the editor of The Builder.
Holloway's initial idea was that the design of the building should be purely Italian, modelled on the river frontage of Somerset House. However, by October 1871 he had had a change of heart and wrote to Donaldson:
Ten architects submitted eleven plans for the asylum. Presenting a paper to the R.I.B.A. in 1887 Crossland recalled that he had not wished to go into the competition on his own and sought the assistance of John Philpott Jones of Whitehall Place. When in fact the first premium of £200 was awarded it was to the design of Crossland, Salomons & Jones. Edward Salomons (1827-1906) practised in Manchester where he had designed the Reform Club in 1870. It is possible that the two had met in Rochdale in 1866 when Crossland was engaged on the Town Hall and Salomons on the town's theatre. Jones, who had most of the work on the asylum design, died soon after the foundation stone was laid and Crossland records that most of the work then fell to him, Salomons being in Manchester.
The designs for the asylum were displayed in the Regent Street gallery of E Freeman for a month in August/September 1872, and the works were in hand by the following year. The building seems to have been substantially complete by August 1877 when an agreement was made with Crossland as recorded in the sanatorium building account book.
The only benefit which accrued to Crossland under the arrangement was that he received £1,000 in advance, it was not an additional payment. His account in the building book shows that he had already received £8,200 on the sanatorium project and £300 re the Mount Lee Estate where Holloway college was to be built. A memorandum records that these sums, with the £1,000 then paid resulted in an overpayment of £1,880 which would be transferred to the "Women's College account".
The agreement may have been related to circumstances in Crossland's private life. On the 28th August 1877, just four weeks later, Eliza Ruth Hatt gave birth at Newington to a son whose father was not John Benjamin Hatt, Eliza's husband, as given in to the Registrar. The father was in fact William Henry Crossland and, tellingly, the boy was named Cecil Henry Crossland Hatt. Very little is known of this relationship, beyond the fact that it was not a passing affair. We do not know whether Crossland's wife, Lavinia, knew of the child: it would be difficult to believe that John Benjamin Hatt was unaware, in view of the child's name, that he was not the father. In these circumstances Crossland may well have been called upon to lay out money to the Hatts, possibly to ensure that his family were not informed, almost certainly towards bringing the child up.
Eliza Ruth Hatt was born in 1853, the daughter of Mark Tilley of Surbiton, a gardener. She was married at the age of sixteen to John Benjamin Hatt when both he and her father were dairymen in Battersea.
It will have been noted from the above agreement that Crossland's brother was associated with him in the contract at the Virginia Water asylum. James Crossland is recorded at Longwood House in the censuses of 1841 and 1851. He was born in Huddersfield c.1832 and was employed as a clerk in a woollen mill in 1851. He married a Huddersfield girl and emigrated to Canada where four children, William, Ernest, Helen and Harry, were born between 1866 and 1873. In his notes on the sanatorium Crossland recalled "When the adjudication was given in our favour I was up in the woods of Nova Scotia, thinking a good deal more of salmon and moose than of Sanatoria." It seems likely that he was taking a vacation with his brother.
James Crossland had returned to England by 1875 as an assistant to his brother and was still in his employment in 1877 as the above agreement indicates. Their father died in October 1877 and James returned to Huddersfield to reside at Longwood House and continue the stone merchanting business.
Crossland also travelled to Europe like many an architect before him. It appears that whilst engaged on Rochdale Town Hall he journeyed to Switzerland. Whilst working for Holloway he is thought to have made several visits to France. He gave details of one visit in the paper which he presented to the R.I.B.A. in 1887:
But that work was of much too pleasant a character to be hurried, and some six weeks elapsed before I reported it finished. Shortly afterwards we met Mr Holloway, then over eighty years of age, at Blois, he having travelled through Paris direct Mr Holloway having spent two days in going round and through the building checking off our sketch-books, feature by feature, and finding only one bit of work missing, viz., a small dormer window on the east front which we could not get at easily - but which had to be got at before our work could be passed - we started on a tour of inspection to Cheverny, Blois again, Amboise, Chaumont, Chenonceaux, Valencay, Versailles, Fontainbleau, and, having made large purchases of photographs and books in Paris, we made for home.
Holloway too left an account of this research expedition. It does not tally in every detail with Crossland's itinerary but as it was written at the time whilst Crossland's was written fourteen years later, we may suppose that it is the more accurate.
Rose next a.m. at 8. Whilst standing at the door of the hotel awaiting breakfast I was unexpectedly accosted by Mr Wm. Crossland, Architect, whom I believed at that time to be at Chambord. Breakfasted After visited the Chateau de Blois then left in a small carriage for Chambord distance about 12 miles, paid 12 francs, arrived at 6 in the evening, went to the Hotel St Michel kept by Bazine, it is clean and the cooking good the charges were 2 francs a day for chamber, 1 franc attendance. Coffee and bread and butter for breakfast 1 franc. After this early breakfast had a second at 12.30 a la fourchette charge 3 francs, dinner at 7 very good 4 francs. Wine 3.50 boule we had 2 boules a day between 3 of us - that is including Mr Taylor, Mr Crossland's assistant. We found out however that Bazine was not giving us Bordeaux wine but merely vin de pais such as is given at the table d'hote at Blois without charge so that after this we made him uncork the boule before us.
Our work commenced about 9 going to the Chateau and remaining there until about 12.30 then to the hotel to breakfast and as it was very hard work going up and down so many flights of stairs we did not go to the Chateau again until 2 remaining there till about 6.30, it was tiring work - we were always on the leg - up and down.
Mr Crossland had previously been before my arrival 10 days at Chambord on my account taking plans and drawings of the Chateau so that my work consisted in referring to what they had done and to determine how much of the Chateau I wanted for my purpose as I intended at that time to take it as a model for building an institution for incurables - but which idea I afterwards abandoned
The guardians of the Chateau let us have access to it at all times and indeed let us have the keys.
The Chateau has 2 fronts but I only required 1 and I only took about ½ of the main roof of the building as in its entirety it would have been far too large and too expensive for my purpose. I reduced the size of the part I wanted to 2/3 of its length and breadth and most of the parts in the same proportions.
The rooms in the Chateau are about 20' 6" and by the reduction in size that I have made they will be about 13' 6".
I proposed when there that the kitchen should be in the roof. I was engaged during the whole of the 18, 19, 20, 21 of September and up to 1 o'clock on my birthday the 22 of Sep, and that afternoon Mr Crossland set about revising his plans upon a large scale and in accordance with my suggestions. The 23, 24 and up to 2 o'clock on the 25 the time was principally spent on these plans and running occasionally over to the Chateau to compare our work with what we saw there - and on this afternoon we visited the Chateau for the last time -bidding it adieu and we all left it with much regret
Sep. 26 We left Chambord with regret and arrived at Chevorney and visited the Chateau, it is very fine and kept in excellent order. Then to Valency a magnificent Chateau, visited it on the 27 built about the same period as Chambord - the tower is something like it but not nearly so fine.
28 left for Amboise to visit the Chateau of that name - this chateau offered nothing in the way of construction for my purpose to Paris
Tuesday 30 was out all day with Mr Crossland to assist him in buying French books suitable for his profession.
1 October left for Lisle.
2 October to Mercrou then Roubaix - we visited a hospital there and a school at Torcaing. I found that the gas was made under the building to this plan I objected and abandoned the idea of having anything to do with it for the sanatorium at Virginia Water.
3 October left for London.
Crossland records that he spent something like two years working out the plans, elevations and details, during which he had revisited France and Belgium. It seems likely that he made at least one further journey to France. His wife was interred on 12th May 1879 and the inscription on her tombstone, much of which has been lost, apparently records her death on the 7th January and the fact that her body was conveyed from Boulogne.
The Crossland family tomb is at Highgate Cemetery, a larger than average plot it was purchased by Crossland on 19th May 1879 for 30 guineas. Its purchase was occasioned by the death of Crossland's wife who, as we have noted, was buried there on 12th May: lettering has been lost from the inscription which appears to read:
|Requiescat in Pace|
|In memory of Lavinia Cardwell wife of William Henry Crossland F.R.I.B.A. of London. Born 27 May 1837. Died 7 Jan ....|
|.... d from Boulogne ... er.|
The next interment was of James Crossland, William's brother, in May 1885. His death was registered in London and it is probable that he was staying with his brother, possibly again measuring contractors work at Holloway College, as he had at the sanatorium. There is no inscription on the grave either for him or for the third occupant of the grave, Benjamin Tilley Hatt, the sixteen year old son of Crossland's mistress.
If Crossland's relationship with Ruth Hatt had been kept from his wife, it appears that following her death no attempt was made at secrecy. In 1881 Crossland was very much involved with the Holloway College at Egham Hill, it appears that he devoted himself almost entirely to that one project. He had a bungalow built in the grounds to which he removed, and at the time of the 1881 census was living there with Elizabeth R Crossland, Sarah Baker a young widow who was visiting, and two female servants in their early twenties. It is strange that Cecil Henry Crossland Hatt, then in his fourth year was not with his mother and Crossland: one wonders if Ruth's husband had insisted on keeping the child. It is thought that Ruth continued to live with Crossland until her death. In the 1881 census she was shown as his wife and on the Highgate tomb where she was buried on 12 April 1892 the inscription reads "Ruth, wife, companion, friend of W H Crossland. Born 29.1.1853, died 8.4.1892".
No record has been found of the marriage of Crossland and Ruth Hatt. In view of Crossland's familiarity with Europe they may have been married abroad, however, the likeliest explanation is that they were not in fact married. John Benjamin Hatt is thought to have lived until 1919, yet no decree absolute has been found in the Divorce Registry between 1871 and 1892. Strong support for the suggestion that they were not in fact married is to be found in Crossland's will, which was drawn up on 26th May 1892, no doubt as a consequence of Ruth's death the previous month.
Signed by the above named William Henry Crossland as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us both being present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses.
Fred T Astin, solicitor, 61 Gresham House, Old Broad Street.
Thos. Godfrey of the same place, his Clerk.
It is significant that the mother of his child is named as Eliza Ruth Hatt, not Crossland. The Will was obviously drawn up by a solicitor who would no doubt have advised Crossland of the necessity of an exact description. Whilst the description of Ruth as his wife to the census enumerator and to the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, would have little significance, such a statement in his Will, if not true, might have jeopardised the bequest to his son.
The joint ownership of the Highgate grave, noted in the will, is also recorded on the marble kerb of the tomb which is described as "The family vault of Robert Monach and W H Crossland". Crossland's mother-in-law, Monach's wife, was buried there in September 1889 and Monach himself in February 1893.
Nothing further is known of Cecil Henry Crossland Hatt. He was alive in 1892 as Crossland's will shows, and the fact that the Will was not altered during the remaining sixteen years of Crossland's life would suggest that Hatt was still living in 1908, though that is by no means certain, Crossland left very little money and even if Hatt had died he may not have felt it worthwhile to draw up a new Will. Extensive searches in the Civil Registration indexes of Marriages and Deaths have failed to locate either event. One possibility is that he emigrated.
Having lived for four and a half years on the Mount Lee estate, supervising the erection of the College, Crossland returned to London. Almost nothing is known of his life or work after the completion of Holloway College. He was living at 46 Upper Bedford Place, Russell Square by 1884 where he continued at least until 1892. In 1888 he designed an extension for the church of St Michael and All Angels which was given in memory of Holloway by his relatives. We know of no commissions after that date. Did he, one wonders, settle into semi-retirement? He continued to be listed in directories as an architect, and it may be that he accepted whatever commissions happened to come his way. It is possible that he was on a retainer at Holloway College down to 1888. In May of that year, writing on notepaper of the Architect's Department, The Holloway College, he thanked the Govenors of the College for relieving him from the grave responsibility which had up to then rested upon him. We can only surmise that the College Governors were then accepting the building as fully commissioned and so absolving Crossland from responsibility for any future defects. His connection with the College continued at least for a further five years. In 1887 he was consulted on the lighting, in 1888 on alterations to the heating arrangements, and finally, in 1893, on the kitchen ventilation.
Crossland continued to live in London, in 1894 he was at 18 Great George Street, Westminster, and for a time round the turn of the century he was at 25 Abchurch Lane. When he died on 14th November 1908 he had been living in an apartment at 57 Albert Street, Regents Park. The informant of the death was his landlord, C Otto Dahl.
It has previously been variously suggested that Crossland was a drunkard, was made bankrupt and died pennyless in Liverpool. The suggestion that he was a drunkard may have its origins in a letter in the file on Crossland held at the R.I.B.A. Library in which a Rochdale resident writing in 1949 stated "I did once hear from the old Town Hall keeper that Crossland suffered from D.T." If there was any truth in the story it certainly did not appear to inhibit his creative ability. Holloway's notes of the journey to France indicate that Crossland enjoyed wine, and in the account book for the Holloway Sanatorium we find that on one occasion part of Crossland's commission was paid in kind in the form of Brandy at a cost of £11-3-0. The Death Certificate gives the causes of death as cerebral haemorrhage and asthenia, the latter merely a general weakness.
J Maxim in his book The Rochdale Town Hall perpetuated the suggestion, adding Liverpool as a supposed place of death. This further embellishment owed its origins to the fact that a plan or drawing of Rochdale Town Hall was rescued from a Liverpool pawn shop. It is unlikely that the plan was disposed of by Crossland; would that it had been. There is a letter from Crossland of February 1906 at Royal Holloway College, a response to a request for him to deposit his copy of the plans of that building with the College, in which he stated that he could not oblige as they had been sent, with others, to the mill some years before!
It is perhaps unfortunate that Crossland's daughter predeceased him. She died on the 8th March 1900 and is buried in the Highgate grave. She and her husband lived in London and they appear to have remained fairly close to Crossland. We have seen that he appointed William Lart one of his trustees and executors, and Maud Helen in her Will directed her trustees to pay an annuity of £104 to her father if in their discretion they thought fit. The fact that Crossland left no bequest to his daughter in his Will, which was drawn up well before her death, is not altogether surprising, she had a substantial inheritance from her maternal grandmother, and her husband was probably quite well to do. One might, however, have expected a token bequest or at very least an indication that he had a daughter! It would seem that he was concerned for the security of his son to the exclusion of all else. William Stanton Lart, an Oxford graduate, was an accountant and the secretary of a public company, probably Lart & Co., mine owners and agents in the City. A number of the Lart family were living in Brighton in the 1920s, including William, and his mother who lived to the age of 92: her brother Dr Stanton had been Bishop of Newcastle, New South Wales.
Maud Helen left the bulk of her estate to her daughter, Dorothy Maud Lart, apparently her only child. Dorothy Maud also benefitted under the Will of her father when he died in 1934, when she was described as the wife of Alfred Harding Steerman. When Dorothy Maud Steerman died in July 1961 she was a widow, she left instructions that all her letters and papers were to be burnt, and her house, at Boscastle, Cornwall, and the residue of her estate were left to a Richard Garnett. She was the last known descendant of Crossland; whether her papers contained anything relating to him we shall never know. The greatest loss of all were Crossland's own papers which no doubt went to the mill at the same time as the plans of Holloway College, probably at the time that he ceased to practice. We know that Crossland sketched and painted, examples of his paintings can still be seen at Rochdale Town Hall, and one of the several charcoal cartoons which he made for the bold relief modelling on the ceiling of Holloway College chapel is among the College archives.
Crossland appears to have been of a very artistic turn, in his paper to the R.I.B.A. he gave a brief notice of Alfred Stevens whose Wellington Monument in St Paul's Cathedral he thought ranked second only to Michael Angelo's Night and Morning. The submissions to the Royal Academy indicate a pride in his own artistic works and it is hard to believe that these were destroyed. It may be that in later life Crossland lived in much reduced circumstances and disposed of whatever would bring him some money. The provision in his daughter's will certainly points to reduced circumstances, £2 a week would only have provided a very basic life style, and the bequest would hardly have been made had he enjoyed even modest wealth. In the building records of the Virginia Water Asylum is a memorandum that Crossland in 1887 selected six of Philpot Jones's designs of the sanatorium: were those also, one wonders, consigned to the mill. It is interesting that one of the few likenesses of Crossland, a photograph in the archives of Royal Holloway College dated 1881, was presented, in 1925, by Walter E Ledger, who recorded that it was a good likeness. Clearly Ledger knew Crossland and it is presumed that this was the Walter Ledger whom Crossland named as his second executor in 1892.
It is quite possible that there are descendants of Crosslands nephews and niece living who could add to our knowledge of him. His last recorded visit to Huddersfield was in March 1888, when he stayed with a Mrs Fairlamb at Woodhouse Hill, not far from the family home.
The family tomb at Highgate was a fitting monument for an architect of Crossland's ability. It is an architectural monument carved from Caen stone including swags, supporting scrolls, drapery and tassells, and surmounted by a life-size female statue. The statue was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1877, described as "Lux Perpetua"; part of a monument to the late Mrs W H Crossland. The sculptor was C E Fucigna, who undertook much of the decorative carving at Holloway College. Crossland admired the man and his talent and wrote:
A number of Fucigna's drawings for the decoration of the chapel at Holloway College are preserved in the archives there. Among the Ramsden estate papers is a bill of 1882 for Mr Fucigna's charges for models and castings for the decorative features on the Kirkgate Buildings, Huddersfield.
It is regretted that despite the instructions in Crossland's Will he was not buried in the Highgate tomb. The reason is not known. It is possible that he was no longer in touch with his son-in-law, and that the burial took place before the Will was located. Another possibility is that his son had predeceased him and that his final resting place is in fact with him, though not in the family tomb. Perhaps we shall never know.
William Henry Crossland
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