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Biography of Nicholas Hawksmoor

Portrait of Nicholas Hawksmoor

Nicholas Hawksmoor was a seventeenth/eighteenth century architect famous for designing London churches and stately homes.

When and Where was he Born?

1661, East Drayton, Nottinghamshire, England.

Family Background:

Nicholas Hawksmoor was the son of a yeoman farming family.


Unknown, but as he was literate probably local schools. Served as an apprentice to Sir Christopher Wren from the age of 18.

Timeline of Nicholas Hawksmoor:

1679: Hawksmoor joins his architectural teacher Sir Christopher Wren in London.

1683: He begins working jointly on architectural projects with Wren as acting Deputy Surveyor at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and later St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

1684: Nicholas Hawksmoor works on Winchester Palace.

1685: First recorded as working on the royal chapel in Whitehall.

1688: He draws up his first designs for the Royal Hospital at Chelsea.

1689: He works on designs for the new wing of Hampton Court Palace and begins being the Clerk of Works to Kensington Palace for the King on the recommendation of Wren.

1690: Hawksmoor designs Broadfield Hall.

1695: He designs Easton Neston in Northamptonshire.

1696: He is appointed as a surveyor’s clerk to Greenwich Hospital. He is married to Hester who survived him by one year. They had three children.

1698: He is appointed Clerk of Works at Greenwich Hospital.

1699: Hawksmoor works on designs for a revamped Whitehall.

1701: He designs the West Dormitory at Greenwich Hospital.

1702: He begins building Easton Neston for Sir William Fermor which is the only house to be solely designed by Hawksmoor.. He designs the obelisk in the market place at Ripon.

1704: He designs the Orangery at Kensington Palace.

1705: He begins working jointly on Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire with John Vanbrugh and becomes deputy surveyor at Greenwich Royal hospital.

1708: Hawksmoor works at Queen’s College, Oxford.

1711: He works on the Chapel at Greenwich Hospital. A new Parliamentary Act provides taxation money for the building of fifty new London churches which allowed Hawksmoor to build some of his designs.

1712: He designs King’s College, Cambridge. His first designs were too expensive and had to be scaled down. He designs St Alphege Church, Greenwich.

1714: Hawksmoor designs work on St George in the East Church, London Christ Church, Spitalfields and St Anne’s Church, Limehouse.

1715: He becomes the Clerk of Works at Whitehall, Westminster and St James.

1716: He works on repairs at Beverley Minster. He starts work on the churches of St Mary Woolnoth, London, St George, Bloomsbury, London and all Souls College, Oxford.

1718: He makes repairs to the Jewel Tower at the Palace of Westminster. Wren was succeeded as Surveyor, by the amateur William Benson and consequentially Hawksmoor was dismissed to make way for Benson’s brother.

1720: He works on designs for Brasenose College, Oxford. Kings College Cambridge lost a lot of money in the South Sea Bubble collapse and Hawksmoor’s works there could never be completed in his lifetime.

1723: He is appointed Surveyor General at Westminster Abbey. He starts work on Ockham Park and became surveyor to Westminster Abbey on the death of Wren.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, London
(copyright Anthony Blagg)

1726: He is re-appointed as Secretary to the Board of Works.

1729: Hawksmoor designs the Mausoleum at Castle Howard, Yorkshire.

1734: He works on the West Towers of Westminster Abbey.

1736: Nicholas Hawksmoor creates the designs for Westminster Bridge.

When and Where did he Die?

25th March 1736, at home at Millbank, London, England from gout of the stomach.

Age at Death:



1696. He was married to Hester who survived him by one year. They had three children.

Site of Grave:

Parish Church, Shenley, Hertfordshire.

Places of Interest:


King’s Gallery, Kensington Palace.
St. Vedast, Foster Lane (Steeple).
King William Block and Queen Anne Block, Greenwich Hospital.
St. Alphege, Greenwich.
St. Anne, Limehouse.
St. George-in-the-East, Wapping.
Christ Church, Spitalfields.
St. James, Garlickhythe, City of London.
St. George, Bloomsbury.
St. Mary Woolnoth, City of London.
St. Michael, Cornhill, City of London.
St. Luke, Old Street.
West Towers, Westminster Abbey.


Easton Neston.


Clarendon Building, Oxford.
The Codrington Library, Oxford.
All Souls College.
Also responsible for parts of Queen’s College (High Street screen) and All Souls Colleges and Worcester College, Oxford. Blenheim Palace, Woodstock.


Castle Howard, near Harrogate. Also the Pyramid, Mausoleum and Carrmire Gate.