The life and works of John Douglas

Chester-based architect John Douglas was born in April 1830 in Sandiway, Cheshire. During his career, Douglas designed around 500 buildings, both within Cheshire and also around North Wales and Northwest England.

From his training with Edward Graham Paley, for whom he became an assistant early on in his career, Douglas learned to design buildings in the Decorated Gothic style. Many of Douglas’s designs involved churches, either building new ones or restoring older churches. St John the Evangelist in Over, Cheshire, was the first church he designed and was in the Early Decorated style.

When Douglas set up his home and office in Chester, the architectural black and white revival was well underway. Many of the buildings Douglas designed in Chester and elsewhere were in this half-timbered style.

In 1865, Douglas was commissioned by the second Marquess of Westminster to design for Grosvenor Park in Chester. The park keeper’s lodge is one of the first examples of Douglas’ black and white style of design. The lodge was built in two storeys, with red sandstone used for the lower storey while the upper storey is timber framed and has plaster panels. The black and white half-timber design can be seen on the St Werburgh Street development. Douglas purchased the east side of the street and redeveloped it in this popular style in the 1890s.

During his career, Douglas carried out many works for the first Duke of Westminster on his Eaton estate. These designs included houses, farms, schools and churches.

The Eastgate clock is one of Douglas’ most famous works. The turreted structure sits above the ancient Chester walls and was designed as part of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It was unveiled in 1899 and, second to Big Ben, it is the most photographed clock in the country.

Posted by Adam Lloyd
January 14, 2015

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