ELSAM, RICHARD #
- Born: - Died: -
English architect and writer of architectural handbooks, who worked in Ireland in the first and second decades of the nineteenth century. Richard Elsam was almost certainly born in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, in 1772. After serving his pupilage with Robert Browne, Clerk of the Works at Kew Palace, Elsam practised in the London area. In 1793 he married Mary Ann Crawley of Ipswich, who left him in 1797; Richard John Elsam, a London attorney, was a son of the brief marriage. According to Colvin Richard Elsam 'appears to have been a quarrelsome character, whose career was marked by frequent disagreements with his clients and others'. After losing the job of rebuilding the church at Chertsey in Middlesex in 1804, he emigrated to Ireland. He first set up in practice in Derry, from which he published The Gentleman and Builder's Assistant in 1808.(1) By 1809 he was living in Dublin.(2) He was made a Freeman of the City of Dublin as a member of the Guild of Bricklayers by Grace Especial at Midsummer 1812,(3) and in 1814 he became a member of masonic lodge, No. 620, 'The Volunteer Lodge', in Dublin.(4) Financial problems seem to have been brewing by the end of 1813, however, and by the summer of 1815 he was bankrupt.(5) The T. SMYTH who exhibited a design for a villa at the Irish Society of Artists in 1812 (no. 79), giving as his address 'at Mr Elsam's, 32 Old Sackville Street, Dublin', may have been a pupil or assistant. Elsam eventually returned to England and is recorded as holding the post of surveyor to the Corporation of Dover in 1818. He appears still to have been working as an architect in Dover twenty years later.(6)
Elsam exhibited nine drawings at the Society of Artists of Ireland in Dublin between 1809 and 1811 and six at the Irish Society of Artists, Dublin, in 1812.(7) Besides the identified designs (listed under WORKS), these included: 'Designs for cottages'(1809, no.77), 'A Parish Church with Windows, in the style of the 15th Century of Henry the 3rd'(1809, nos. 93,95), 'Drawing of a portico'(1809, no. 112),(8) 'One of the Fronts ot the Temple descirbed by Mr Pope'(1811, no. 21), two designs for a castle (1812, nos. 71,72), two designs for glebe houses, one of them castellated (1812, nos. 73,74), 'A villa proposed to be built near Dublin'(1812, no. 75) and 'Dido's Palace (1812, no. 76). The castle may be the same as the 'Chateau' for Henry Blake, Esq., of which there is a plan by Elsam(9) and which, as it bears the address 25 Sackville Street, must date from circa 1809-11. This geometric design is almost identical in plan to Elsam's 'Design for a Castellated Villa' published as the frontispiece to The Practical Builder's Perpetual Price-Book (1825). Elsam describes the latter design as having been prepared in 1808 for John Claudius Beresford of Dublin and Learmount in Co. Derry. The plan, he writes, 'was formed to suit some delightful romantic views, and, at the same time, to unite with part of an old favourite cottage, which is appropriated to the butler's-room and servants'-hall'.(10) The design was probably for Learmount, where an Elizabethan-style house, incorporating an older house disguised as a castellated wing, was eventually built in 1830.(11)
Addresses: Bishop Street, Derry, 1808;(12) 25 Old Sackville Street, Dublin, 1809-1811;(13) 32 Old Sackville Street, 1812-14.(14)
See WORKS, for Irish work only, and BIBLIOGRAPHY.
Information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (4th edn., 2008), 355-6, and from John Bourne, Ewell, Surrey, Oct 2011 and Jan 2012. A portrait of Elsam forms the frontispiece of the first edition of his Practical Builder's Perpetual Price-Book (1825). A portrait bust by Peter Turnerelli, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1814, cannot be traced.
(1) In the introduction he states that he had 'recently been engaged by the Lord Bishop of Derry, to measure and investigate the several artificers' works done at his Lordship's palace, in this city'.
(2) He exhibited designs from Dublin addresses between 1809 and 1812; see IALE, I, 218.
(3) 'An alphabetical list of the Freemen of the City of Dublin, 1774-1824', The Irish Ancestor XV (1983), Nos. 1 & 2, 46.
(4) GLFI archives.
(5) Freeman's Journal, 8 May 1815. He had already been a bankrupt in England in 1807.
(6) He is described as 'Mr R. Elsam, architect, Dover' in the notice of his son Richard John Elsam's death which appeared in the Kentish Gazette on 23 October 1838.
(7) IALE, I, 218.
(8) Walter Armytage had a drawing of a portico by Elsam, which may be this drawing (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(9) The whereabouts of this drawing, of which there is a photograph in IAA, is not known. Is it the drawing in NLI, PF 20 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44)?
(10) R. Elsam, The Practical Builder's Perpetual Price-Book (1825), 160.
(11) Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 450.
(12) Title page of Gentleman and Builder's Assistant (1808).
(13) IALE, I, 218.
(14) See note 11, above. He also appears in Wilson's Dublin Directory for 1813 and 1814 at 32 Upper Sackville Street.
15 work entries listed in chronological order for ELSAM, RICHARD #
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, BLACKROCK?, HOUSE (PROPOSED)|
|Nature:||Proposed 3-bay two-storey classical villa, for Jonah Barrington.
'Design for a villa to be erected near Dublin for Josiah[sic] Barrington, Esqr., Judge Advocate' engr. 1806 (Coll: Rolf Loeber, 2012). This is probably the same design as the 'villa proposed to be built near Dublin' exh. at the Society of Artists, Dublin (1812, no. 75) .
|Building:||CO. DERRY, LEARMOUNT CASTLE|
|Nature:||Castellated villa for John Claudius Beresford. Unexecuted. Almost identical to design for 'chateau' for Henry Blake, signed 'Rd Elsam 25 Old Sackville Street Dublin', whereabouts unknown, photo. in IAA (71/97 R1)|
|Refs:||R. Elsam, Practical Builder's Perpetual Price-Book (1825), fp.,160.(2 views of Learmount from SW and SW exhibited by Gaspare Gabrielli at Society of Artists of Ireland, 1810, nos. 172,197)|
|Building:||CO. DOWN, KILMORE, DEANERY|
|Nature:||Small alts, valuation of turf house &c.|
|Refs:||RCB Library, M.10 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)|
|Building:||CO. DERRY, DERRY, STRAND ROAD, OLD FOYLE COLLEGE|
|Nature:||Tudor Gothic; completed by John Bowden in 'Regency classical style'.|
|Refs:||Engraved perspective view as frontispiece to Richard Elsam, The Gentleman and Builder's Assistant (Derry, 1808); engraved plan and elevation in Guildhall Library, Fishmongers' Company 1959/folio IV, 113, see Hugh Dixon, Ulster Architecture 1800-1900 (UAHS, 1972), 21 (no.96); Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (4th edn, 2008), 356.|
|Building:||CO. DERRY, DERRY, BISHOP STREET, COUNTY COURT HOUSE|
|Nature:||Unexecuted. Design for court house & public rooms exh. by Elsam, 1809, at Society of Artists of Ireland (no. 67)|
|Refs:||ALEI, I, 218|
|Building:||CO. CAVAN, CAVAN, COUNTY GAOL|
|Nature:||Built by Henry, Mullins & McMahon?|
Design for gaol 'now erecting' exh. Society of Artists of Ireland, 1809 (nos. 81,132), see IALE, I, 218; P. Nicholson, The New Practical Builder and Workman's Companion (1823), 577 (illus.); Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (4th edn, 2008), 356, citing P. Nicholson, Treatise on the Five Orders of Architecture (1834), pls. 64,65, and R. Elsam or James Neild, A Description of Cavan Gaol (Dublin, 1810); elevation in IAA, ICEI collection, Henry, Mullins & McMahon album (Acc.2005/095, IEI 5190).
|Building:||CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, COLLEGE SQUARE EAST, ACADEMICAL INSTITUTION|
|Nature:||Design for principal front exh. Society of Artists of Ireland, 1810 (no. 1). Unexecuted.|
|Refs:||ALEI, I, 218|
|Building:||?, ?, HOUSE|
|Nature:||Geometric castellated design for a 'chateau', for Henry Blake ?of Renvyle (Gal). Almost identical to design for Learmount Castle, Co. Derry, publ. in Elsam's Practical Builder's Perpetual Price-Book| (1825), frontispiece,160.|
|Refs:||Photograph of drawing, signed 'Rd Elsam 25 Old Sackville Street Dublin' in IAA|
|Building:||CO. TIPPERARY, ROSCREA, CHURCH STREET, CHURCH OF ST CRONAN (CI)|
|Nature:||RE's plans approved by Bishop.
NLI, MS 8821 (5) 115 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); illus. in Adrian Hewson, ed., Inspiring Stones: a history of the Church of Ireland Dioceses of Limerick, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Killaloe, Kilfenora, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh & Emly (1995), 161.
|Building:||CO. TIPPERARY, DEVIL'S BIT (NEAR), HOUSE|
|Nature:||Cottage, for Daniel Ryan.|
|Refs:||Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (4th edn., 2008), 356, citing Richard Elsam, Hints for improving the Condition of the Peasantry (1816), no. 10.|
|Building:||CO. MONAGHAN, MONAGHAN, COUNTY GAOL|
|Nature:||Plans for same. Unexecuted.
|Refs:||NA/SPO 558/423/31 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)|
|Building:||CO. TIPPERARY, ROSCREA, BRIDEWELL|
|Refs:||NA/SPO 558/423/14 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)|
|Building:||CO. CAVAN, CAVAN, CHURCH (CI, URNEY PARISH)|
|Nature:||New church. 'Usually attributed to John Bowden, though Richard Elsam was paid for plans in 1815 and the design noticeably bristles with ornament unlike Bowden's usually conservative approach.'(Mulligan)
Kevin V. Mulligan, The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster (2013), 249.
|Building:||CO. TIPPERARY, BIRCH GROVE (ROSCREA)|
|Nature:||Additions, for George Birch.|
|Refs:||S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), I, 400|
|Building:||CO. MEATH, ATHBOY HOUSE (LODGE?)|
|Nature:||Design for same?|
|Refs:||E.McP files have note that Walter Armytage had drawing of Athboy House 'probably by RE'.|
|Richard Elsam||An Essay on rural architecture, illustrated with original and oeconomical designs||1803||London: E. Lawrence, 1803. (Reprint by Gregg Press, 1972.)|
|Richard Elsam||The Gentleman and Builder's Assistant||1808||Derry, 1808. ( Includes 'observations on the customs of measuring in Ireland'.)|
|Richard Elsam||Hints on improving the condition of the peasantry, with plans, elevations and descriptive views of characteristic designs for cottages||1816||London: R. Ackermann, 1816.|
|Richard Elsam||A brief treatise on prisons: intended for the use of sheriffs, magistrates, grand jurors, and other persons, interested in the construction and management of prisons. Illustrated with an enlarged design of the new gaol about to be erected at Dover.||1819||London: J. Taylor, 1819 (information from John Bourne, 2011).
|Richard Elsam||The Practical Builder's Perpetual Price Book
||1825||London: Thomas Kelly, 1825; later editions, 1828, 1832; revised and corrected editions, 1842, 1847. (Information from John Bourne, 2011).
|Richard Elsam Or James Neild||A Description of Cavan Gaol||1810||1810.|