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Encyclopedia > Sir Edwin Lutyens

Early Life

Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens OM (March 29, 1869 - January 1, 1944), a British architect, designed many English country houses and was instrumental in the layout and building of New Delhi. He was born and died in London.

He studied Architecture at South Kensington School of Art, London from 1885 to 1887.

After college he joined the Ernest George and Harold Ainsworth Peto architectural practice. It was here that he first met Sir Herbert Baker.

His own practice

He began his own practice in 1888, his first commission being a private house at Crooksbury, Farnham, Surrey. During this work, he met Gertrude Jekyll. In 1896 he began work on a house for Miss Jekyll at Munstead Wood, Godalming, Surrey. The two of them also worked together as garden designers.

The result of this union was the "Lutyens-Jekyll" garden, overflowing with hardy shrub and herbaceous planting within a firm classicising architecture of stairs and balustraded terraces. This combined style, of the formal with the informal, exemplified by brick paths, softened by billowing herbaceous borders, full of lilies, lupins, delphiniums, and lavender was in direct contrast to the very formal bedding schemes favoured by the previous generation in the Victorian era. This new natural style was to define the "English garden" until modern times.

His works

Initially, his designs all followed the Arts and Crafts style, but in the early 1900s his work became more classical in style. His commissions were of a varied nature from private houses to two churches for the new Hampstead Garden Suburb, London to Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, Devon and on to his contributions to India's new imperial capital New Delhi (where he worked with Herbert Baker). Here he added elements of local architectural styles to his classicism, and based his urbanization scheme on Mughal water gardens.

After the Great War, he was involved with the creation of monuments to commemorate the fallen. The best known of these monuments are the Cenotaph, London and the memorial to the Missing of the Somme, Thiepval. He also designed the War Memorial Gardens in Dublin, which were restored to their full splendour in the 1990s. Other works include the Tower Hill memorial, and a memorial in Victoria Park in Leicester.

He was knighted in 1918, and elected to the Royal Academy in 1921.


Whilst work continued in New Delhi, Lutyens continued to receive other commissions including several commercial buildings in London and the British Embassy in Washington, DC.

In 1924 he completed the supervision of the construction of what is perhaps his most popular design: Queen Mary's Dolls' House. This four storey Palladian villa was built in 1/12th scale and is now a permanent exhibit in the public area of Windsor Castle. It was not conceived or built as a plaything for children - its goal was to serve as an exhibit of the finest British craftmanship of the period.

He was commissioned in 1929 to design a new Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool. Work on this magnificent building started in 1933, but was stopped during the Second World War (after the war the project ended due to a shortage of funding, with only the crypt completed). (The architect of the present Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, which was built over the crypt and consecrated in 1967, was Sir Frederick Gibberd.)

Marriage & later life

Lutyens married Lady Emily Lytton on 4 August 1897 at Knebworth, Hertfordshire. They had five children. In the later years of his life he suffered with several bouts of pneumonia. In the early 1940s he was diagnosed with cancer. He died on New Year's Day in 1944.

  Results from FactBites:
First World War.com - Who's Who - Sir Edwin Lutyens (0 words)
Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was perhaps the most influential architect - and certainly the most eminent - in determining the manner in which the Great War would be physically commemorated.
Born in London on 29 March 1869 the eleventh child of a soldier-turned-painter, Lutyens suffered severe illness during childhood - said to be rheumatic fever - which left him in too delicate a condition to be sent to school; he was consequently educated after a fashion by one of his brothers.
Lutyens' talent was publicly recognised with his election as Associate of the Royal Academy in 1913.
Sir Edwin Lutyens (0 words)
Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) is often described as the greatest British architect of his age and possibly of all time.
Although influenced early on by the Arts and Crafts movement of his youth, and later by the discipline of the classical ideal, his eclecticism was such that he was more concerned with the intricacies of his own aesthetic principles.
Lutyens produced over 300 buildings, the majority of which were large country houses.
  More results at FactBites »



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