Walter Godfrey

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Walter Hindes Godfrey
Born2 August 1881
Died16 September 1961
AwardsRIBA Silver Medallist (Essay), 1906
PracticeWratten & Godfrey
BuildingsBurford Priory, Oxfordshire
The Temple Church, Crosby Hall
Projects Herstmonceux Castle

Walter Hindes Godfrey, CBE, FSA, FRIBA (1881–1961), was an English architect, antiquary, and architectural and topographical historian. He was also a landscape architect and designer, and an accomplished draftsman and illustrator. He was (1941–60) the first director and the inspiration behind the foundation of the National Buildings Record, the basis of today's Historic England Archive, and edited or contributed to numerous volumes of the Survey of London. He devised a system of Service Heraldry for recording service in the European War.


He was appointed a CBE in 1950.

Early life

Walter Hindes Godfrey was born at home at 102, Greenwood Road, Hackney, London, the eldest son of Walter Scott Godfrey, owner of a small wine business, and Gertrude Annie Rendall. [1] His father later gave up his own business to become manager of a larger firm, then became a minister of religion and author of several works on the subject. [2] [3]


Godfrey first settled in Buxted in 1915, and then moved his practice from London in 1932 to live and have his offices in Lewes House, on Lewes High Street. He was regarded as one of the outstanding conservation architects of his generation, though his interventions are thorough and often unscholarly. He restored and adapted a number of important historic buildings and gardens, chiefly in Sussex and the Weald. They include the Anne of Cleves House Museum in Lewes, Sussex; The Garth, Lingfield in Surrey (1919), where he converted the Old Workhouse (1729) into a residential dwelling and designed the surrounding gardens; Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex (1933), where his major reconstruction of the interior was in the view of Nikolaus Pevsner executed 'exemplarily'; Charleston Manor, Sussex (1928); Horselunges Manor, Hellingly, Sussex; Michelham Priory, Sussex; Plawhatch Hall and Kidbrooke Park (today Michael Hall School), both near East Grinstead, East Sussex; and Rymans at Apuldram, West Sussex. In London, following war damage in the Blitz, he restored Chelsea Old Church (1953–55) and the historic Temple Church (1947–57); also Crosby Hall, London, reconstructed in Chelsea incorporating elements of the house of Thomas More. Other notable buildings he restored include the Memorial Chapel at Eton College; Dorchester Abbey, Oxfordshire; Old Surrey Hall, Dormansland, Surrey; Goldings in Hertford, Hertfordshire; and many churches, notably in Sussex. In the Cotswolds, his commissions included adaptations to Sudeley Castle and Little Barrow (largely a new work), Donnington, both in Gloucestershire, and Burford Priory, in Oxfordshire. [4]


He was the author or editor of a wide range of books and articles on architectural history and antiquarian subjects, many of them published by the Sussex Archaeological Society. He was literary director of the Sussex Record Society and chairman of its council. In 2006 a collection of Godfrey's private papers was deposited with the East Sussex Record Office.

Personal life

Godfrey married Gertrude Mary (d. 1955), second daughter of Alexander Grayston Warren, and had three daughters and a son, Emil Godfrey, also an architect, who founded the practice of Carden and Godfrey.


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  1. "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33430. ISBN   978-0-19-861412-8.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. "Walter Godfrey – the Society's Chairman & Honorary Editor 1928-1960". 22 July 1965.
  3. "inauthor:"Walter Scott Godfrey" - Google Search". Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  4. Godfrey 1939, p. 71.
  5. "Review of Some Famous Buildings and their Story by Alfred W. Clapham and Walter H. Godfrey". The Athenaeum (4491): 600. 22 November 1913.

Further reading