Canada House - Trafalgar Square, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.457 W 000° 07.747
30U E 699223 N 5710184
Quick Description: Canada House, the work of Robert Smirke, dominates the west side of Trafalgar Square. Before becoming Canada House the building was the Royal College of Physicians.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 11/1/2012 8:23:35 AM
Waymark Code: WMFKY4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member razalas
Views: 14

Long Description:

Te building is Grade II* listed and the entry at the English Heritage webiste [visit link] tells us:

"Canada House (including 5.2.70 the former Royal College of Physicians) G.V. II* Institutional building. 1824-27 by Sir Robert Smirke as premises for the Royal College of Physicians and the Union Club, altered on conversion as Canada House by Septimus Warwick. Bath stone, slate and lead roofs. Unified composition occupying the west side of the square with porticoes to north (Pall Mall East) to the square and to the south (Cockspur Street), in dignified and scholarly Greek Revival characteristic of Smirke. 2 storeys, basement and wings and attic over centre as built with additional (and top heavy) attics provided over centre for Canada House. 15 windows wide to Trafalgar Square with former central entrance now window, in tetrastyle portico in antis composed of giant engaged Ionic columns contained by advanced giant pilastered bays. Recessed glazing bar sash windows. The wings either side of centre-Piece articulated in shallow projection and recession, the advanced bays with same giant pilaster order as that flanking centrepiece and the central recessed portion of each wing with 3 close-set windows as tripartite group. Main entablature over 1st floor and attic storey with cornice and balustraded parapet. Heightened attics,over centre. The return to Pall Mall East retains original hexastyle Ionic portico (the entrance to the former Royal College of Physicians); to Cockspur Street a giant Ionic tetrastyle portico rebuilt by Septimus Warwick as entrance to Canada House. The interior of the former royal College of Physicians is least altered with fine entrance hall with Greek Doric column screen to staircase, of Club design (et Athenaeum), main reception room, library and lecture room, all with restrained Grecian decoration, etc. The interior of Canada House more altered, but retaining Smirke's design in the High Commissioner's Room and in modified form the principal staircase etc. The siting of this institutional building on the west side of Trafalgar Square was programmed in Nash's Metropolitan Improvements of 1824-26."

The John Madjack Fuller website [visit link] has a biography for Smirke.:

"Smirke is credited with designing both the Observatory and Greek Temple (also known as the Rotunda Temple) on Fuller's Rose Hill Estate, Brightling, Sussex.  The Observatory was fitted with expensive astronomical equipment including a "Camera Obscura".
Several intriguing questions surround these buildings. Who was the astronomer who operated the equipment? Did Fuller and his entertain his friends at the Temple?

Sir Robert Smirke came from a family involved in the arts. His father, also Robert (1752-1845), was a historical painter and book illustrator. His younger brother Sydney (1798-1877) was  an architect.

Although Smirke worked on private buildings in the Gothic Revival and Medieval styles, he is best known as an architect of public Neo-Classical/Greek Revival buildings. The British Museum (1823 -1847) and Canada House (1824) in London are two of the best known public buildings credited to Smirke.

His first commission was Lowther Castle built in 1806 when he was a mere lad of 25.  Smirke was knighted in 1832, and received the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Gold Medal for Architecture in 1853. He died in Cheltenham on April 18th 1867

Eastnor Castle
'Eastnor Castle, in the dramatic setting of the Malvern Hills and surrounded by a beautiful deer park, arboretum and lake - is the home of the Hervey-Bathurst family.

The style proposed by the architect, the young Robert Smirke, was Norman Revival. From a distance, Eastnor was intended to create the impression of a medieval fortress guarding the Welsh Borders. The symmetry of the design emphasised authority, distinguishing it from the rambling, picturesque, castellated mansions of a slightly earlier period at Downton and Lowther, the latter also designed by Smirke.'"

Architect: Robert Smirke

Prize received: RIBA Royal Gold Medal

In what year: 1853

Website about the Architect: [Web Link]

Website about the building: [Web Link]

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