Thomas Rawlins (sculptor)

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Thomas Rawlins

Plate XXXVIII - Ville de Lyon - Familiar Architecture by - Thomas Rawlins 1789.png

Illustration from Rawlins' pattern book,
Familiar Architecture
Born 1727
Died(1789-03-18)18 March 1789
Nationality British
Occupation Sculptor, architect, author
Known for Funary Monuments
Notable work Monument for Sir Thomas Churchman at St Giles' Church, Norwich

Thomas Rawlins (1727–1789) was an English sculptor, architect and architectural author, who specialized in funerary monuments.



Thomas Rawlins was the son of a Norwich worsted weaver. He was trained by a London sculptor and ran a successful business as a funerary monument mason in Norwich from circa 1743–81, specialising in coloured marbles. In 1753 he advertised himself as, a carver and mason at Duke's Palace Yard, Norwich of monuments and chimney pieces both ancient and modern. [1] [2]

Norwich City and non-metropolitan district in England

Norwich is a historic city in Norfolk, England. Situated on the River Wensum in East Anglia, it lies approximately 100 miles (161 km) north-east of London. It is the county town of Norfolk and is considered the capital of East Anglia, with a population of 141,300. From the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important.

Worsted yarn spun with average to hard twist from long combed and carded fibers, traditionally of wool

Worsted is a high-quality type of wool yarn, the fabric made from this yarn, and a yarn weight category. The name derives from Worstead, a village in the English county of Norfolk. That village, together with North Walsham and Aylsham, formed a manufacturing centre for yarn and cloth in the 12th century, when pasture enclosure and liming rendered the East Anglian soil too rich for the older agrarian sheep breeds. In the same period, many weavers from Flanders moved to Norfolk. "Worsted" yarns/fabrics are distinct from woollens : the former is considered stronger, finer, smoother, and harder than the latter.

Ranking high as a sculptor in the view of art historian Nicholas Pevsner, Rawlins' style spans from late Baroque Rococo to Neoclassical. This stylistic change, according to Pevsner, is illustrated by two monuments in St Andrew's Church, Norwich, the first to John Custance (circa 1756) the second to Richard Dennison (circa 1767). [3] Later monuments to William Wilcocks (1714–1770) in St Swithin's (now Norwich Arts Centre), and Robert Rushbrook (1705–81) in Saint John the Baptist, Maddermarket, Norwich, display a great awareness of neo-classical motifs. His monument for Sir Thomas Churchman at St Giles' Church, Norwich however, is considered to be his finest work. It features a medallion portrait and a sarcophagus, which is decorated with allegorical figures representing Vanity, Time, and Judgement, along with an Egyptian pyramid in construction.

Rococo 18th-century artistic movement and style

Rococo, less commonly roccoco, or "Late Baroque", is a highly ornamental and theatrical style of decoration which combines asymmetry, scrolling curves, gilding, white and pastel colors, sculpted molding, and trompe l'oeil frescoes to create the illusions of surprise, motion and drama. It first appeared in France and Italy in the 1730s and spread to Central Europe in the 1750s and 1760s. It is often described as the final expression of the Baroque movement.

St Andrews Church, Norwich Church in Norfolk, England

St Andrew's Church, Norwich is a Grade I listed medieval building in Norwich.

Norwich Arts Centre church in the United Kingdom

Norwich Arts Centre is a live music venue, theatre and art gallery located in St. Benedict's Street in Norwich, Norfolk, England. It has a capacity of 260 for standing music concerts and 120 for seated events. In November 2014, it was named "Britain's Best Small Venue" by the NME.

Rawlins also practised as an architect. His designs, like his contemporary Thomas Ivory, architect of the Octagon Chapel (1756), were Neo-Palladian in style. He competed for the Royal Exchange (City Hall, Dublin) in 1769, and exhibited designs at the Society of Artists in 1767, 1769 and 1770 and at the Royal Academy in 1773, 1774 and 1776.

Thomas Ivory (1709–1779) was an English builder and architect, active in Norwich.

Octagon Chapel, Norwich church in the United Kingdom

The Octagon Chapel is a Unitarian Chapel located in Colegate in Norwich, Norfolk, England. It is home to a growing liberal religious community, welcoming people of all religious faiths and none. The congregation is a member of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

City Hall, Dublin civic building in Dublin, Ireland

The City Hall, Dublin, originally the Royal Exchange, is a civic building in Dublin, Ireland. It was built between 1769 and 1779 to the designs of architect Thomas Cooley and is a notable example of 18th-century architecture in the city.

In 1765 the Ipswich Journal advertised a proposed work on architecture by Rawlins and in 1768 he published a pattern book, Familiar Architecture: or Original Designs of Houses for Gentlemen and Tradesmen; Parsonages; Summer Retreats; Banqueting-Rooms; and Churches. Further editions of Rawlins' pattern book were issued in 1789 and 1795, and in contemporary times it has been called influential and practical. [4] Archer (2005) suggests that Rawlins' book was seeking to address a bourgeois provincial, rather than an elite metropolitan, clientele, and notes his emphasis on the need for flexibility on questions of proportion so as to fit buildings to the inclinations of their owners. [5]

Proportion (architecture) principle of architectural theory that describes the relationships between elements of a design

Proportion is a central principle of architectural theory and an important connection between mathematics and art. It is the visual effect of the relationships of the various objects and spaces that make up a structure to one another and to the whole. These relationships are often governed by multiples of a standard unit of length known as a "module".

His only documented architectural works are the entrance to St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Hall, Norwich in 1774, (subsequently rebuilt) and Weston House completed in 1781 for John Custance at Weston Longville. [4] [6] The Blackfriars entrance was in a Gothic style, and housed Norwich Library. [7] The house was described by one critic as a "dull five-by-five bay two-and-a-half-story house" [8] it later became the residence of Parson James Woodforde, and was demolished in 1926. In 1772 his reinforcement with ironwork of the south aisle of Saint John the Baptist at Maddermarket became the subject of satirical verses. [9] Nonetheless, Rawlins is commemorated by a stone in the floor of the church, describing him simply as an architect who died on 18 March 1789. [10]

St. Andrews and Blackfriars Hall, Norwich Grade I listed building in the United Kingdom

St. Andrew's Hall and Blackfriars' Hall are a Grade I listed set of friary church and convent buildings in the English city of Norwich, Norfolk, dating back to the 14th century. They make up the most complete friary complex surviving in England. The complex is made up of several flint buildings. The centrepiece is St Andrew's Hall. The halls are now used for conferences, weddings, concerts, beer festivals and meetings. The maximum capacity is 1200 people. It is one of the Norwich 12 heritage sites.

Weston Longville village in United Kingdom

Weston Longville is a civil parish in the English county of Norfolk, approximately 8 miles (13 km) north-west of Norwich. Its name is derived from the Manor of Longaville in Normandy, France, which owned the local land in the 12th century. It covers an area of 11.24 km2 (4.34 sq mi) and had a population of 303 in 127 households at the 2001 census, increasing to a population of 339 in 144 households at the 2011 Census. For the purposes of local government, it falls within the district of Broadland.

Gothic Revival architecture architectural movement

Gothic Revival is an architectural movement popular in the Western World that began in the late 1740s in England. Its popularity grew rapidly in the early 19th century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time. Gothic Revival draws features from the original Gothic style, including decorative patterns, finials, lancet windows, hood moulds and label stops.


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  1. Norwich Mercury, 29 September 1753
  2. Norwich Mercury, 15 May 1762
  3. Pevsner, Nikolas; Wilson, Bill (1976). The Buildings of England: North-East Norfolk & Norwich. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN   014071023X.
  4. 1 2 "British Small Towns Project: Appendix 2: How the classical style spread". Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester. University of Leicester. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  5. Archer, John (2005). Architecture and Suburbia: From English Villa to American Dream House, 1690–2000. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 22–23.
  6. "Site of Weston House". Norfolk Heritage Explorer. Norfolk County Council. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  7. Crouse, J. (1781). The History and Antiquities of the County of Norfolk: Volume X: containing the City and County of Norwich. Norfolk: M. Booth, Bookseller.
  8. Wilson, Richard; Mackley, Alan (2000). Creating Paradise: The Building of the English Country House, 1660–1880. Hambledon and London. p. 58. ISBN   1 85285 252 6.
  9. Norfolk Chronicle 8 August 1772
  10. Norwich Mercury, 21 March 1789