Thomas Raffles Davison

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Thomas Raffles Davison
DiedMay 5, 1937(1937-05-05) (aged 84)
Woldingham, Surrey
OccupationArchitect, illustrator, editor of The British Architect
Known forArchitectural illustration

Thomas Raffles Davison ARIBA (1853 - 5 May 1937), usually credited as Raffles Davison or T. Raffles Davison, was an English architect, architectural illustrator and journalist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. [1] His work featured in The British Architect and Northern Engineer for over 40 years from 1874, and he became editor of the publication in 1878 until it merged with The Builder in 1919. [2]

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

An architectural illustrator is an artist who creates imagery for the design professional that accurately portray the details of an architectural project. These images are used to communicate design ideas to clients, owners, committees, customers, and the general public.

Building is one of the United Kingdom’s oldest business-to-business magazines, launched as The Builder in 1843 by Joseph Aloysius Hansom – architect of Birmingham Town Hall and designer of the Hansom Cab. The journal was renamed Building in 1966 as it is still known today. Building is the only UK title to cover the entire building industry.


Early life

He was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1853, the second son of a Congregational minister. Educated privately at Shrewsbury, he showed a rare talent for drawing from an early age and it was partly for this reason that he was articled to the architect W H Spaull in Oswestry. On completion of his articles he worked for a time as architectural assistant in offices in Nottingham and in the office of H J Paull of Manchester.

Stockton-on-Tees Market town in County Durham, England

Stockton-on-Tees is a market town in County Durham, England. The town has a population of 85,000, with a population of around 196,000 in the wider area, the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, according to 2017 estimates by ONS UK.

Congregational church religious denomination

Congregational churches are Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.

Shrewsbury School Public school in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England

Shrewsbury School is an English independent boarding school for pupils aged 13 to 18 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, founded by Edward VI in 1552 by Royal Charter. The present campus, to which the school moved in 1882, is on the banks of the River Severn.


Although he subsequently carried out some minor architectural commissions on his own account, it was his drawing skills that would lead him to become the leading architectural illustrator of his generation.

The British Architect

His arrival in Manchester coincided with a move by several local architects to set up an architectural magazine to rival the London-based Builder. Davison became a major contributor to The British Architect and Northern Engineer and was appointed editor in 1878. [3] In 1896, by which date the magazine had relocated to London, Davison became an Honorary Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects; he was later active in the work of the London Society. [4]

Royal Institute of British Architects professional body for architects primarily in the United Kingdom

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a professional body for architects primarily in the United Kingdom, but also internationally, founded for the advancement of architecture under its charter granted in 1837 and Supplemental Charter granted in 1971.

The London Society is a British membership organisation established to encourage public interest and participation in urban planning and transport matters in London as well as to study and celebrate the capital's unique history and character. It is among the oldest civic societies in the United Kingdom.

Architectural illustration

Sketch of the south end of Bramall Hall Bramall 2.jpg
Sketch of the south end of Bramall Hall

Some of his sketches - published in the magazine as Rambling Sketches (also the title of a book published in 1883) - were exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions, and at the Modern Gallery[ clarification needed ] in 1907, in New York City after 1919 and in the RIBA Galleries in 1924. His presentation of architects' designs made him popular with many of the country’s leading architects, some of whom supported a book Record of Life and Work from 1870 to 1926 marking his retirement in 1927, with an introduction by Sir Reginald Blomfield RA. Then Sir Aston Webb wrote:

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

"To architects he has been known for nearly half a century for his peculiar power in transferring their elevations and sections into perspective form, not only understandable by the layman but truthfully portraying the design of the architect." [3]


Raffles Davidson died on 5 May 1937, aged 84. at his home, “Whistler’s Hollow,” Woldingham, Surrey. This house had been designed by W Rupert Davison, [5] although has also been credited to T. Raffles Davison himself. [3] Davison had himself commented, "It would be idle to deny that to an architect the allurement of the art of drawing is sometimes divergent from his architecture. The consolation is that some men are so allured that they end up making very good drawings which are stimulative and useful, whilst they are saved from doing some very bad architecture." [3]

Woldingham village in the United Kingdom

Woldingham is a village and civil parish high on the North Downs between Oxted and Warlingham in Surrey, England, within the M25, 17.5 miles (28.2 km) southeast of London. The village has 2,141 inhabitants, many of whom commute to London, making Woldingham part of the London commuter belt. The village is served by the Oxted line and central London can be reached in 33 minutes by train.






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  1. "Thomas Raffles Davison". Mackintosh Architecture.
  2. Architectural Journals, British Association for Local History - "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2012-01-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Basic Biographical Details: Thomas Raffles Davison". Scottish Architects.
  5. Modern Homes (1909), pp. 218–227.