Designer: Cockerell, Charles Robert (1788-1863); Elmes, Harvey Lonsdale (1814-1847)
Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (c1892)
The first recipient of the Royal Gold Medal was Charles Robert Cockerell, by then architect to the Bank of England (1833); the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (1840-42); the Sun Assurance office in Threadneedle Street, London (1842); and Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy (1840).
Cockerell followed his architect father into the family business, being articled to Samuel Pepys Cockerell for five years. Towards the end of that period Cockerell was asked to act as confidential advisor to Robert Smirke (himself a Royal Gold Medallist) who was rebuilding Covent Garden Theatre.
Designer: Cockerell, Charles Robert (1788-1863); Playfair, William Henry (1790-1857)
Copyright: Eric de Mare/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1960s)
In 1810, when England was at war with Napolean, Cockerell set off on his Grand Tour to visit Italy, Greece and Turkey, absorbing all forms of Classical architecture that would influence his future work. When he returned to England in 1817, Cockerell established himself in practice in London, specialising in the Greek revival style.
By 1819, Cockerell had been appointed Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, yet still found time to assist his father with the survey of India House. Other key works included the Hanover Chapel in Regent Street, London (1823); St David’s College, Lampeter (1829); the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (taken on from Basevi in 1837, but not completed until after Cockerell’s death in 1874); and St George’s Hall, Liverpool (1847). The latter of these schemes is considered the masterpiece of the Classic Revival.
Even in death he was considered a great architect: being buried alongside Christopher Wren and his father-in-law John Rennie in St Paul's Cathedral, London.
Won the Royal Gold Medal as testimony of his distinguished merits as an architect.