James Piers St Aubyn bigraphy, stories - British architect

James Piers St Aubyn : biography

April 6, 1815 - May 8, 1895

James Piers St Aubyn (1815–1895), often referred to as J. P. St Aubyn, was an English architect of the Victorian era, known for his church architecture and confident restorations.

Church restorations listed by counties chronologically

Bedfordshire: Ampthill, 1877

Buckinghamshire: Weston Turville, 1879; Marsh Gibbon, 1879–80; Maids Moreton, 1882–87; Stone, 1883–90

Cambridgeshire: Soham, 1879–80; Gamlingay, 1880–81; Castle Camps, 1882; Little Abington, 1885; Little Gransden, 1885–88; Teversham, 1888–92

Cornwall: Sennen, 1847; St Agnes, 1848; Godolphin, 1849–51; Mawgan-in-Meneage, 1855; Kenwyn, 1860–62; Lesnewth, 1862–65; Lanivet, 1865; Egloshayle, 1867;J Colquitt-Craven "Egloshayle Church, Wadebridge" St Keyne, 1868–77; Minster, 1869–71; Tintagel, 1870; Hessenford, 1870–71; St Minver, 1870–75; St Breock, 1880–82; Perranarworthal, 1884; Ludgvan, 1887–88; Mevagissey, 1887–88; Stratton (1888); Werrington (at the time in Devon), 1891; St Germans, 1891–93; Gulval, 1892; Callington, date unknown; St Issey, date unknown; Mabe date unknown (after 1866) N.B. St Aubyn's work always included a footscraper outside the porches: John Betjeman knew this and often failed to visit churches where these could be found.Betjeman (1973) West Country Churches; In Praise of the Victorians; p. 14

Derbyshire: Duffield, 1846; Cubley, 1872–74

Devon: Stoke Fleming, 1871; Dawlish, 1874; St. Giles-on-the-Heath, 1878

Gloucestershire: Daglingworth, 1845–51; South Cerney, 1861–62; Standish, 1867; Owlpen, 1874–75; Dursley, 1888–89

Hampshire: Sherborne St. John, 1854, 1866–84

Herefordshire: Cusop, date unknown

Kent: Cliffe, 1864; Boughton-under-Blean, 1871; Lympne, 1878–80; Harbledown, 1880; Sheldwich, 1888

Leicestershire: Whitwick, 1848–50; Holy Trinity, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 1866; Ashby Parva, 1866; Appleby Magna, 1870–72; St. Helen, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 1878–80

Lincolnshire: Theddlethorpe All Saints, 1885

Northamptonshire: Maidwell, 1891

Nottinghamshire: Eakring, 1880–81

Suffolk: Little Glemham, 1857–58; Woolverstone, 1888–89; Sternfield, date unknown

Surrey: Addington, 1876

Early life

St Aubyn was born at Powick Vicarage, Worcestershire, in the English Midlands, the home of his maternal grandfather, on 6 April 1815. He was the second son of the Rev. Robert Thomas St Aubyn and his wife, Frances Fleming St John, and a cousin of John St Aubyn, 1st Baron St Levan, of St Michael's Mount, Cornwall. He was known to his family and friends by his second Christian name of Piers (sometimes spelt Pearse). He was educated at Penzance Grammar School before beginning his studies in architecture.

He married Eliza Phillpott in 1852 at Stoke Damerel, Devon. Eliza was born in Ceylon in 1816 and died in 1881 at their home, 108 Cambridge Street, St George Hanover Square, London.


He was articled to Thomas Fulljames (1808–1874) in Gloucester and acted as clerk of works for the latter’s Edwards College, South Cerney (Glos) in 1838-39. He was elected to the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1837, on the nomination of George Basevi, Edward Blore and William Railton, and became a Fellow of the Institute in 1856, proposed by Benjamin Ferrey, Giles Gilbert Scott, and F.C. Penrose. He twice served on the Council of the Institute (in 1858-60 and 1870–72). He was Surveyor to the Middle Temple in London from 1851 until 1885, and practised from Lambe Buildings in the Temple for much of his career. From c. 1885 onwards, when he seems to have semi-retired, St. Aubyn worked in partnership with Henry John Wadling (d. 1918), who entered his office as a pupil in 1858 and remained as his assistant and managing clerk. St. Aubyn died on 7 May 1895 at Chy-an-Eglos, Marazion (Cornwall), and is buried on St. Michael’s Mount. H. J. Wadling succeeded to his practice, and continued to trade as “St. Aubyn & Wadling”.

St. Aubyn was undoubtedly assisted in developing his career by his family’s prominence in Devon and Cornwall, and particularly in Devonport, where they were the major landowners. He practised chiefly in London and developed a practice which extended all over southern England, but he also kept an office in Devonport for part of his career, and he was employed particularly extensively in Devon and Cornwall. Apart from this local connection, there are clusters of his work in Gloucestershire (no doubt deriving from his years in Fulljames’ office), Kent, Reading, Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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