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Mr Thomas Leverton Donaldson

Thomas Leverton Donaldson was an influential 19th-century British architect and architectural historian, born on May 19, 1795, in Bloomsbury, London, and passing away on October 1, 1885. He is remembered for his contributions to architectural practice, his scholarly pursuits in architectural history,his pivotal role in shaping architectural education, as the founding father of the Institute of British Architects (later the Royal Institute of British Architects) in 1834.

Donaldson began his career as a clerk in the office of architect Henry Hakewill, where he developed a strong foundation in architectural principles. He later pursued formal education at the Royal Academy Schools, training under renowned architects such as Sir John Soane and others.

His architectural practice flourished, and he became recognized for his work on numerous notable buildings. Some of his prominent designs include the church of St. Peter's, Notting Hill, and the All Saints' Church in Ennismore Gardens, London. Donaldson's architectural style often displayed elements of classicism while incorporating innovative structural solutions.

Beyond his architectural endeavors, Donaldson made significant contributions to architectural education and theory. He served as Professor of Architecture at University College London (UCL) from 1841 to 1865, where he played a crucial role in establishing the first formal architecture school in England. His teachings emphasized the importance of historical understanding in architectural design and construction.

Donaldson's scholarly pursuits extended to architectural history. He authored several influential works, including "Ancient Architecture" (1834) and "The Architectural Maxims of Vitruvius" (1856), which became essential texts in the study of classical architecture.

Throughout his career, Donaldson remained actively involved in professional architectural societies. He served as the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) from 1863 to 1865, contributing to the advancement of architectural standards and professional ethics.

In 1851 he was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects royal gold medal for the promotion of architecture. He was president of the Institute from 1863 to 1864.

Donaldson died at his home, 21 Upper Bedford Place, Bloomsbury, London, on 1 August 1885. He was buried at Brompton cemetery, London.

His legacy endures through his architectural designs, writings, and educational contributions, which have had a lasting impact on the practice and study of architecture. Thomas Leverton Donaldson's dedication to architectural education and his insightful historical perspectives continue to influence architects and scholars worldwide.


  1. "Thomas Leverton Donaldson (1795-1885)" - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. "The Architectural Maxims of Vitruvius" by Thomas Leverton Donaldson
  3. "The Architectural Career of Thomas Leverton Donaldson (1795-1885)" by J.M. Crook, Architectural History, Vol. 17 (1974)
  4. "Ancient Architecture" by Thomas Leverton Donaldson

Colvin, Howard, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd edition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 315-316.

Fagan, L.A., ‘Donaldson, Thomas Leverton (1795–1885)’, rev. Anne Pimlott Baker, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) < > [accessed 14 January 2008]

National Archives, National Register of Archives, Person Details, 'Donaldson, Thomas Leverton (1795-1885) Architect Antiquary and Archaeologist, GB/NNAF/P141650' < http://www.nationalarchives.go... > [accessed 14 January 2008]

National Portrait Gallery, Search the Collection, 'Thomas Leverton Donaldson (1795-1885), Architect' < > [accessed 07 August 2008]

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