George Basevi

George Basevi was an architect and surveyor active in the early- to mid-19th century. He was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society.

Basevi was born in London, England on 1 April 1794, the son of George Basevi senior, a London merchant and educated at Dr Charles Burney's school in Greenwich and later at the Royal Academy Schools.

In December 1810 he became a pupil of John Soane. In 1815, he visited Paris with his brother and, a year later, after finishing his architectural training, began a study tour of Italy, Greece and Turkey which lasted three years.

In 1820, Basevi exhibited a drawing of the temple of Hephaestos at the Royal Academy and opened his own practice in Albany. The following year, he was appointed surveyor to the Guardian Assurance Company, and soon began designing churches, for the commissioners of the 1818 Church Building Act, as well as country houses, terraced houses in London's squares, almshouses, clubs, university buildings, as well as several other commissions.

Of all his works, his most well known is perhaps the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. His designs for this were selected, in 1834, out of 36 other entries in an open competition. Begun in 1837, Basevi died before it was completed. C. R. Cockerell and then E. M. Barry were appointed as his successors on the project.

His last major work was with Sidney Smirke, on the Conservative Club, St James's Street, London (1843–5). Basevi died soon afterwards, tragically falling from the west tower of Ely Cathedral while inspecting repairs, on 16 October 1845. He was survived by his wife, Frances Agneta Biscoe, with whom he had 8 children. It was at the east end of Ely Cathedral that he was buried.

Sources:

John, Richard, ‘Basevi, George (1794–1845)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2004) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/1615> [accessed 30 November 2007]

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