English architect. William Chambers, the third son and sixth child of William Chambers, farmer, of Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire, was born in Swaffham Prior circa 1848. He was living as a boarder in Sunderland in 1871, when he was probably working for John Ross of Darlington, one of the three architects who proposed him for associateship of the RIBA the following year. He had moved to Dublin by the end of 1879 and was described in the Irish Builder in October 1880 as a 'young architect who has lately come to settle in our midst'. In 1882 he initiated and offered prizes in the competitions held by the Irish Builder for a design for a gate lodge and for a design for a shop front. During this period he was also engaged in various projects in Dundalk and its surroundings; on 22 September 1883 he placed an advertisement in the Dundalk Democrat announcing that as he was 'now specially engaged in developing the building resources of the Dundalk estate', he wished 'to inform his clients and the public generally that he will attend at his office in the markethouse, Dundalk, every Wednesday'.
Chambers probably left Ireland circa 1885; in the spring of 1891, according to the English census of that year, he was living in Albany Courtyard, Piccadilly, London, attended by two servants. During the ten years which passed before the next census, he apparently married and became a widower. His office in 1900 was in Savoy House, London WC. He was still living in London as a widower at the time of the 1911 census. Both while he was in Ireland and after his return to England, he supplied the Irish Builder with a stream of exuberant designs for buildings in both countries. He had the distinction of designing the first mosque in Britain, which was attached to the Oriental University at Woking.
RIBA: elected associate, 5 February 1872, having been proposed by John Ross, Arthur Allom and CHARLES JOHN PHIPPS.
Addresses: Work: 44 Westland Row, 1880; 4 & 5 Westmoreland St, 1881-1884; Savoy House, London WC, 1900.
Home: 2 Brighton Vale, Monkstown 1880; Auburn Villa, Rathgar,1880; 3 Leinster Rd, Rathmines 1881-2; Kensington Lodge, Grove Park, Rathmines, 1883-1885; Albany Courtyard, Piccadilly, London, 1891; 5 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, 1901; 12-13 Arundel Place, Strand, London, 1911.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the English census returns of 1851, 1871, 1891 and 1901.
Directory of British Architects 1834-1914 (RIBA 2001), I, 354.
IB 22, 15 Oct 1880, 282.
IB 22, 15 May,15 Jun,1,15 Jul,1 Aug 1882, 143,174,196,211,218.
IB 33, 15 Aug 1891, 190.
IB 42, 15 Oct 1900, 506 (or 510?).
Besides the buildings listed under WORKS, the following unidentified Irish works by Chambers are illustrated in the Irish Builder: 'a principal entrance to a very large demesne…intended to be erected by a well-known landed proprietor, who, owing to the unsettled state of the country, has…abandoned the idea of executing it' in IB 23, 15 Jan 1881, 19,22; designs for four houses in IB 25, 1 Apr 1883, 106; designs for cottages in IB 26, 1 Mar,1 May 1884, 66,130. Designs for buildings in England, almost all of them in the home counties, appear in IB 22, 15 Mar 1880, 76,81; 25, 1 Jan 1883, 6; 33, 15 Aug,15 Sep,15 Nov,15 Dec 1891, 184,190, 206,207,253,278,280; 34, 15 Jan,1 Apr,1 May 1892, 16,17,78,79,99,103; 35, 15 Sep,15 Oct,15 Nov 1893, 207,211,234,259,261; 36, 1 Aug,15 Sep,1 Nov 1894, 171,172,175,210,211,241,243; 37, 1 Jan 1895, 2,5; 42, 15 Oct,15 Nov 1900, 506,510,542,543; 43, 16 Jan 1901, 595.
IB 29, 15 Aug 1887, 234.
See note 1, above.
Irish addresses from Thom's directories (transcript by Jones in IAA).
Irish Times, 2 Aug 1886, 6.