Thomas Ripley (architect)

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Thomas Ripley (1682 Yorkshire – 10 February 1758, London) was an English architect.

Yorkshire historic county of Northern England

Yorkshire, formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

Architect person trained to plan and design buildings, and oversee their construction

An architect is a person who plans, designs and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.



He first kept a coffee house in Wood Street, off Cheapside, London and in 1705 was admitted to the Carpenter's Company. An ex-carpenter, he rose by degrees to become an architect and Surveyor in the royal Office of Works. He was influenced by the Palladian style, but never lost his provincial manner, which earned the private derision of Sir John Vanbrugh and the public scorn of Alexander Pope.

Cheapside street in the City of London

Cheapside is a street in the City of London, the historic and modern financial centre of London, which forms part of the A40 London to Fishguard road. It links St. Martin's Le Grand with Poultry. Near its eastern end at Bank junction, where it becomes Poultry, is Mansion House, the Bank of England, and Bank station. To the west is St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Paul's tube station and square.

The Office of Works was established in the English Royal household in 1378 to oversee the building of the royal castles and residences. In 1832 it became the Works Department forceswithin the Office of Woods, Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings. It was reconstituted as a government department in 1851 and became part of the Ministry of Works in 1940.

John Vanbrugh English architect and dramatist

Sir John Vanbrugh was an English architect and dramatist, perhaps best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. He wrote two argumentative and outspoken Restoration comedies, The Relapse (1696) and The Provoked Wife (1697), which have become enduring stage favourites but originally occasioned much controversy. He was knighted in 1714.

His works include Houghton Hall for Sir Robert Walpole, which was first designed by the Palladian architects Colen Campbell and William Kent. These designs were greatly altered by Ripley. [1]

Houghton Hall country house in Norfolk, England

Houghton Hall is a country house in the parish of Houghton in Norfolk, England. It is the residence of David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley.

Robert Walpole British statesman

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford,, known before 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Colen Campbell Scottish architect and architectural writer

Colen Campbell was a pioneering Scottish architect and architectural writer, credited as a founder of the Georgian style. For most of his career, he resided in Italy and England.

His appointment in 1715 as Labourer in Trust at the Savoy marked the beginning of his continuous rise through the Office of the King's works. In 1721 he succeeded Grinling Gibbons as "Master Carpenter" and in 1726 he succeeded Vanbrugh as Comptroller of the King's Works, largely to the influence of Walpole. Walpole also engineered an additional appointment as Surveyor of Greenwich Hospital which was completed by him.

Grinling Gibbons Anglo-Dutch sculptor and wood carver

Grinling Gibbons was a Dutch-English sculptor and wood carver known for his work in England, including Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral and other London churches, Petworth House and other country houses, Trinity College Oxford and Trinity College Cambridge. Gibbons was born and educated in Holland of English parents, his father being a merchant. He was a member of the Drapers' Company of London. He is widely regarded as the finest wood carver working in England, and the only one whose name is widely known among the general public. Most of his work is in lime (tilia) wood, especially decorative Baroque garlands made up of still-life elements at about life size, made to frame mirrors and decorate the walls of churches and palaces, but he also produced furniture and small relief plaques with figurative scenes. He also worked in stone, mostly for churches. By the time he was established he led a large workshop, and the extent to which his personal hand appears in later work varies.

Buildings for the Office of Works included the Custom House (1718) and the Admiralty (1723-6), known as the Ripley Building, in London as well as the Queen Mary Block and chapel at Greenwich from 1729-1750. In 1739 he was collaborating with William Kent on designs for the New Houses of Parliament and between 1750-54 he made a great number of changes to Kent's designs for the Horse Guards.

Custom House, City of London Grade I listed building in the United Kingdom

The Custom House, on the north bank of the Thames in the City of London, is a building which was formerly used for the collection of customs duties. A custom house has been present in the area since the 14th century, and a building on its current site has been rebuilt on a number of occasions. Today the Custom House is used by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. The address is 20 Lower Thames Street.

Horse Guards (building) barracks

Horse Guards is a historic building in the City of Westminster, London, between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade. It was built in the mid-18th century, replacing an earlier building, as a barracks and stables for the Household Cavalry, later becoming an important military headquarters. Horse Guards originally formed the entrance to the Palace of Whitehall and later St James's Palace; for that reason it is still ceremonially defended by the Queen's Life Guard. Although still in military use, part of the building houses the Household Cavalry Museum which is open to the public.

His appointment as executant architect at Houghton was the first of a number of Walpole commissions. Here his responsibility for the applied portico and the opening of the colonnades to the garden on the west side demonstrated that he was more than a project manager. From 1725 he designed and built Wolterton Hall in Norfolk for Sir Robert's younger brother Horatio, the 1st Lord Walpole and was chiefly responsible for converting a formal park into a naturalised landscape. [2] Until 1731 he was in charge of the major alterations at Raynham for the Townshend family. [3]

Wolterton Hall Country house in Norfolk, England

Wolterton Hall, the home of Peter Sheppard and Keith Day, is a large country house in the ecclesiastical parish of Wickmere with Wolterton and the civil parish of Wickmere in the English county of Norfolk, England, United Kingdom. The present hall was commissioned by the 1st Lord Walpole of Wolterton and completed in 1742, it was designed by the architect Thomas Ripley who was a protégé of the Walpole brothers.

Ripley was also involved in various speculative adventures, mainly in central London. In 1726 he was the original lessee of the west side of Grosvenor Square, and although his contribution there was limited to 16 Grosvenor Street he built a number of other houses in central London. Ripley was active in promoting the scheme to build Westminster Bridge and was also involved in Richard Holt's failed attempt to develop artificial stone. Nevertheless, he seems to have been an eager investor, being one of the few to make a fortune out of the South Sea Bubble.

Despite the dull and sometimes ill-proportioned character of his public buildings, his pragmatic approach and undoubted skill at managing large projects ensured that Greenwich was completed and fulfilled its function. Ripley always retained a craftsman's concern for practicality. At his masterpiece at Wolterton this resulted in a building of controlled austerity which demonstrated how convenience and dignity could be achieved through subtle planning. Wolterton's ground plan anticipates those of many villas of the 1750s.

Personal life

On 17 November 1737 his first wife died and on 22 April 1742 he married Miss Bucknall of Hampton, Middlesex, an heiress said to be worth £40,000. Ripley died at his house in Old Scotland Yard on 10 February 1758, aged 75, leaving three sons and four daughters.

He was buried in Hampton, but no memorial survives. A portrait by Joseph Highmore is in the National Portrait Gallery and his Mastership of the Carpenter's Company (1742-3) is commemorated by a plaque at the Guildhall, London.

One of his sons moved into a house he had designed on Streatham Common now called Ripley House, at 10 Streatham Common South.


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  1. Axel Klausmeier: Houghton Hall in Norfolk - Ein palladianisches Denkmal für Englands ersten Premierminister, in: Leo Schmidt (Ed).: Forschen, Bauen & Erhalten. Berlin, Bonn 2007, pp. 40-50.
  2. Axel Klausmeier: Having a great quantity of planting amongst it. Wolterton Hall in Norfolk - Zu einem frühen Landschaftspark in Norfolk. In: Die Gartenkunst, Heft 1/2000. pp. 131-153.
  3. Axel Klausmeier: Houghton, Raynham and Wolterton Hall: On Thomas Ripley's major works in Norfolk - Architectural success amidst political tensions. In: Norfolk Archaeology, Norwich 2001. pp. 607-630.

de:Axel Klausmeier: Thomas Ripley, Architekt. Fallstudie einer Karriere im Royal Office of the King's Works im Zeitalter des Neopalladianismus. Berlin, New York, Paris 2000. Axel Klausmeier: Having a great quantity of planting amongst it. Wolterton Hall in Norfolk - Zu einem frühen Landschaftspark in Norfolk. In: Die Gartenkunst, Heft 1/2000. pp. 131–153. Axel Klausmeier: Houghton, Raynham and Wolterton Hall: On Thomas Ripley's major works in Norfolk - Architectural success amidst political tensions. In: Norfolk Archaeology, Norwich 2001. pp. 607–630. Axel Klausmeier: Wolterton Hall in Norfolk by Thomas Ripley: On the major work of an outcast of architectural history. In: Looking forwards. The Country-house in Contemporary Research and Conservation. Ed. by The Chair of Conservation of BTU Cottbus, Cottbus 2001, pp. 96–104.

Court offices
Preceded by
John Vanbrugh
Comptroller of the King's Works
1726 - 1758
Succeeded by
Henry Flitcroft