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Mr Timothy Lightoler

Timothy Lightoler was an architect active in the mid- 18th century.

The second of three sons born to joiner Thomas Lightoler (or Lightowler) in Walton-on-Dale in Lancashire, Timothy Lightoler trained from an early age as a carpenter and joiner. His first documented work was carried out with Thomas at Warwick Castle in 1750, remodelling the castle chapel to the designs of Daniel Garrett (work described by one viewer at the time as "very curious"!)

Clearly pay was not high; Thomas turned to the crime of "coining", becoming somewhat notorious, and having escaped prison fled the country.

Timothy remained in Warwick, marrying carpenter’s daughter Mary Smith in January 1751 and welcoming their first child 11 months later. Amid this domesticity Lightoler settled down to carve door frames, ornamental chimney pieces and the like, often in the Rococo style.

His works include:-

1. Moulds for decorative work for Lord Dacres at Belhus in Essex and designing the Gothic altarpiece for Beauchamp Chapel in Warwick.

2. The Modern Builder's Assistant by publisher Robert Sayer after the death of its two authors William Halfpenny and Robert Morris. He added further plates to the edition (chiefly of a decorative character) and included plans and elevations for a country house; this paved the way for his most successful decade.

3. The Gentleman and Farmer's Architect with twenty-five plates; it sold well, with two further editions released in 1764 and 1774. This collection of designs for parsonages, farmhouses and farm buildings were both practical and ornamental. The book also included hot houses, cowsheds and Dutch barns, the latter in the style of a Chinese farmhouse. It also included decorative features such as "facades to place before disagreeable objects", such as artificial ruins.

4. A machine for cutting files.

5. Platt Hall (a substantial country house in the manner of John Carr),

6. The Octagon Chapel at Bath.

7. Bidston Hall in Cheshire.

8. The churches of St Paul and St John in Liverpool, both domed buildings of considerable merit, and the church of St Mary in Manchester.

9. Work in the Great Hall, remarkable for the introduction of Jacobethan motifs, an unusual style at this time.

10. The grand Palladian stable block for William Constable.

Lightoler was "prepared to use unorthodox, even underhand methods to gain a commission". In 1761 he began construction of a new factory near Birmingham for Matthew Boulton to be built by William Wyatt; by 1763 Wyatt had dismissed Lightoler as architect, describing him as "the greatest Lyar I ever yet met with for during the half hour he stay'd with me I verily believe he did not say one true thing".

In 1746 William Constable inherited Burton Constable upon the death of his father Cuthbert Constable (1680-1746), a man of considerable learning. William immediately began planning improvements to both house and estate, writing to his step-mother Elizabeth that he was “making great and Expensive alterations about my house and Park.”

Lightoler died in 1769, before the stable block was completed, and was buried in the graveyard of the prestigious church of St Paul, Liverpool - the church he had designed to compete with the church of St Paul in London.

Thomas Atkinson (1729-1798) of York was commissioned to complete the stable block. Atkinson interestingly converted to Catholicism in order to obtain contracts from Catholic gentry, a path which Lightoler (for all his finagling for commissions) never seems to have resorted to.

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