Thomas Rickman - Encyclopedia

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THOMAS RICKMAN (1776-1841), English architect, was born on the 8th of June 1776 at Maidenhead, Berkshire, where he assisted his father (a Quaker) in business as a grocer and druggist until 1797. He was then engaged in various businesses until 1818. All his spare time was spent in sketching and making careful measured drawings, till he gained a knowledge of architecture which was very remarkable at a time when little taste existed for the beauties of the Gothic styles. In 1811 alone he is said to have studied three thousand ecclesiastical buildings. When in 1818 a large grant of money was made by the government to build new churches, Rickman sent in a design of his own which was successful in an open competition; thus he was fairly launched upon the profession of an architect, for which his natural gifts strongly fitted him. Rickman then moved to Birmingham, and by 1830 became one of the most successful architects of his time. He built churches at Hampton Lucy, Ombersley, and Stretton-on-Dunsmore, St George's at Birmingham, St Philip's and St Matthew's in Bristol, two in Carlisle, St Peter's and St Paul's at Preston, St David's in Glasgow, Grey Friars at Coventry, and many others. He also designed the new court of St John's College, Cambridge, a palace for the bishop of Carlisle, and several large country houses. These are all in the Gothic style, but show more knowledge of the outward form of the medieval style than any real acquaintance with its spirit, and are little better than dull copies of old work, disfigured by much poverty of detail. Rickman nevertheless played an important part in the revival of taste for medievalism perhaps second only to Pugin. His Attempt to discriminate the Styles of Architecture in England shows painstaking research, and ran through many editions. Rickman died at Birmingham on the 4th of January 1841. He was married three times: first to his cousin, Lucy Rickman of Lewes; secondly to Christiana Hornor; thirdly to Elizabeth Miller of Edinburgh, by whom he had a son and a daughter.

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