Wlliam Atkinson F.G.S., F.H.S. 1774/5-1839
William Atkinson , built (c.1818) and lived in his villa, Grove End House, St John’s Wood.
Atkinson indulged his passion for horticulture by planting his garden with botanical rarities and exotica.
He was the architect who remodelled the home of the most famous author of the early 19th century, Sir Walter Scott’s house, Abbotsford. In Scott’s poem ‘The Bleeding Stone of Kilburn’, much is made of the red-hued Yorkshire limestone, which Atkinson had imported from the quarries of another important client, Lord Normanby, and converted into Roman cement, which he supplied to the London market.
‘In 1805 Atkinson published, in the villa book genre, Views of Picturesque Cottages , comprising asymmetrical elevations to complement picturesque landscapes, and irregular plans arising from utilitarian needs. His observations of Tudor Gothic on which the plates, among the earliest of their kind to be published, were based did not seriously suggest revivalism, representing rather the loss of playful eighteenth-century eclecticism before the onset of the archaeologically more rigorous Gothic revival. That want of sensitivity characterized much of Atkinson’s architecture, of which by far the major part comprised country houses.’
Atkinson was, in fact, principally an architect of country houses and is known for his ‘gothicisation’ of Chequers, Buckinghamshire (1823) amongst others.
Atkinson’s succeeded James Wyatt, on 1 October 1813, as architect to the Board of Ordnance, a post he retained until the department was abolished on 1 January 1829.
|Richard Riddell, ‘Atkinson, William (1774/5–1839)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2006|