John Shaw Sr.

John Shaw Sr.

John Shaw, Senior, (1776 - 1832) was an architect related to the Shaw and Hardwick family and one of the first architects to draw up plans for semi-detached housing in London. He was born in Bexley, Greater London to a surgeon, also named John Shaw and his mother Elizabeth Latham who was from a wealthy landowning family. He moved to Southwark and trained under the architect George Gwilt the elder (1746-1807). It is thought that Shaw and Gwilt were related as Gwilt had married a one Sarah Shaw and it is quite possible that the two architects were cousins. In 1799 Shaw married a cousin, Elizabeth Hester Whitfield who was from a missonary family, at St Georges Hanover Square in London.

From 1799 until 1831 Shaw was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy. He was a member of the Architects' Club and a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Linnean Society of London and the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Architectural works

Shaw became the principal architect to the old Christ's Hospital in Newgate Street and also to Ramsgate Harbour in Kent where he designed the clock house, the obelisk and the Jacob's Ladder stairway for King George IV for his travels to Hanover.

He was later employed by Colonel Thomas Wildman at Newstead Abbey in Nottingham after the estate was sold by Lord Byron. Shaw redesigned parts of Newstead and turned it into a suitable mansion for Wildman to live in.

Shaw's last work is considered his masterpiece, which is the church of St Dunstan-in-the-West on Fleet Street in the City of London. He based the church on St Helen's in York and designed an unusual octagonal tower with the church being in the gothic design. It is the youngest church in the City and was one of the last major buildings to be built in the Regency era. Shaw died in 1832 before the church was finished and left the remaining work to his son John Shaw Jr (1803-1870) whom he had trained at his office in Christ's Hospital.

The Shaws were pioneers in the development of semi-detached houses, breaking away from the common design of terraced housing.


Another son was Thomas Budd Shaw who became tutor of English literature to the grand dukes of Russia in St. Petersburg. His daughter, Julia Shaw, married the eminent London architect Philip Hardwick, whom Shaw had helped elect into the Royal Society in 1831. The Shaws and Hardwicks often lived close by each other in Wesminster and Holborn.

Shaw Senior is buried at St. Mary's Church, Bexley. His portrait was painted by the artist Abraham Daniel (1760-1806) and is part of the National Portrait Gallery collection as well as having a portrait hung at the church of St Dunstan In The West.

External links

* [ Works of John Shaw]

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