W.H Crossland (Recording)

Among the architects of the second half of the nineteenth century who left great buildings for posterity, William Henry Crossland has remained a shadowy figure. He had a remarkable versatility in adapting historical styles and yet, despite most of his buildings surviving to the present day, he is little known. No obituary was written for him and his burial place remains unknown. He left no diaries, logbooks or other records of his work, and, towards the end of his life, he destroyed all the work he had in his possession. Crossland’s portfolio includes three glorious buildings now Grade I listed, and more than twenty other listed buildings, as well as restorations of ancient churches, several of which are also listed at Grade 1. His early work was almost exclusively in the West Riding of Yorkshire, but he later moved his office to London. He won the competition to design the Holloway Sanatorium and his patron soon commissioned him to design what was to become his masterpiece – The Royal Holloway College. Working on these buildings, little more than a mile apart, was to change Crossland’s life utterly. He wrote of himself, ‘I found myself leading a life we architects read about but few experience’. They brought him fame and celebrity.
In this talk, Sheila Binns draws on her recently published biography of Crossland (W H Crossland: An Architectural Biography, The Lutterworth Press, 2020) with the aim of placing Crossland in his rightful position in the pantheon of great Victorian architects.

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