Research guide: Charles Robert Cockerell

Charles Robert Cockerell was a major early Victorian English architect. This research guide aims to help you identify relevant material across the RIBA Collections and navigate our catalogues and resources.

Charles Robert Cockerell was a major early Victorian English architect and archaeologist. He began his architectural training at age 16 and went on to work as an assistant to Robert Smirke on the rebuilding of Covent Garden Theatre before embarking on a Grand Tour of Europe. On returning, he established his own architectural practice in 1817. Cockerell was awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 1848 and was President of the RIBA from 1859 to 1861.

Cockerell's father and sons also worked as architects or, in the case of the younger Samuel Pepys Cockerell, a painter and sculptor:

  • Samuel Pepys Cockerell (1753-1827)
  • Charles Robert Cockerell (1788-1863)
  • Frederick Pepys Cockerell (1833-1878)
  • Samuel Pepys Cockerell (1844-1921)

Charles Robert Cockerell, A Tribute to Sir Christopher Wren, 1838 / RIBA Collections

The RIBA Collections contain material spanning Cockerell's careers, including design and topographical drawings, sketchbooks, and manuscripts. His father and sons are also represented in the collections

Material includes:

  • a biographical file for Charles Robert Cockerell containing entries from Builder v21, 26 Sept 1863; Gentleman's Magazine v15, 1863; Illustrated London News v43, 1863; RIBA Transactions 1863/4
  • a brief biographical file for his father, Samuel Pepys Cockerell


Archives and manuscripts

  • topographical drawings, sketchbooks, notebooks, letters, and memoranda for Charles Robert Cockerell's Grand Tour to Italy, Greece and Turkey, 1809 to 1817 [SB70; SC87-88 & SKB59-60]
  • papers and notes on Charles Robert Cockerell among the Robert Stanley-Morgan papers [S-MR/1/21/1-5]
  • Cockerell family papers [CoC & CoC: Add (Box 1-16)], including those of Samuel Pepys Cockerell and his brother Colonel John Cockerell.
    These papers give a valuable insight into Charles Robert Cockerell's character, influences and interests. His early experiences on the Grand Tour are described through a number of letters he wrote to family and friends. The diaries (series seven) are a detailed record of Cockerell's life, work, interests and thoughts on a day to day basis and as such provide invaluable evidence of his early career and wide-ranging pursuits. Further information on his career and influential contacts is found in the large series of letters (series six), though the emphasis of the letters is less on his work as an architect, more on related matters such as the archaeological discoveries he made while in Greece and news of further excavations, his publications on classical antiquities, medieval sculpture, etc, and the affairs of the Royal Academy and the RIBA, both of which he played a very active role in.
  • correspondence from Charles Robert Cockerell, Samuel Pepys Cockerell (the elder and younger) and Frederick Pepys Cockerell among the RIBA Institutional Archive, covering matters relating to the architectural profession and letters to Frederick Pepy's Cockerell's wife, Mary Mulock, after his death [RIBALC/17/2/2]
  • the Goodchild Album: an album compiled by John Eastly Goodchild between 1889 and 1896, entitled Reminiscences of my twenty-six years association with the late Professor C. R. Cockerell Esq.


  • photo transparencies among views of architecture of Great Britain, showing buildings by Charles Robert Cockerell in London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Liverpool, and Gloucestershire taken 1965-2000 by Dennis Hance, Christopher Pringle and others
  • photographs taken by Edwin Smith in the 1950s showing buildings designed by Charles Robert Cockerell in London, Gloucestershire, Oxford, and Cambridge
  • the Architectural Press Archive contains 68 photoprints from 1930 to 1982 of St George’s Hall, Liverpool (completed by Charles Robert Cockerell)[AP446] and four photoprints of the Bank of England, Liverpool [AP368/173-176]
  • two photoprints of Sezincote (Gloucestershire), designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell, taken by AE Henson between 1917 and 1957 [35035-35040/2]
  • photoprint of Christ Church, Hampstead, designed by Frederick Pepys Cockerell taken by Sir Edward Hertslet in 1888 [A42/11]
  • photographic portraits of Charles Robert, Frederick Pepys and Samuel Pepys Cockerell [POTRAIT FILE]

Rare books

  • Charles Robert Cockerell, The Temple of Jupiter Olympius at Agrigentum, commonly called the Temple of the Giants (Priestley and Weale, 1830); in the RIBA's collection of early published works [E.c.34#]

Charles Robert Cockerell, Competition design for the Royal Exchange, Cornhill, City of London, 1840s / RIBA Collections

Key Literature

  • Anne Bordeleau, Charles Robert Cockerell, Architect in Time: Reflections around Anachronistic Drawings (Routledge, 2016)
  • Pieter B. F. J. Broucke, The Archaeology of Architecture : Charles Robert Cockerell in Southern Europe and the Levant 1810-1817 (Yale Center for British Art, 1993)
  • John Harris, 'C. R. Cockerell’s ‘Ichnographica Domestica’, Architectural History, Vol.14 Jan 1971, pp. 5-29.
  • Susan Pearce and Theresa Ormrod, Charles Robert Cockerell in the Mediterranean : letters and travels, 1810-1817 (Boydell, 2017)
  • David Watkin, The Life and Work of C.R. Cockerell, (Zwemmer Ltd, 1974)

These titles are available in the RIBA Library Reading Room unless otherwise stated.

Charles Robert Cockerell, Witley Court, Worcestershire: the east front and plan of ground floor, 1821 / RIBA Collections/ These drawings and notes are among those compiled by Cockerell in his volume entitled Ichonographia Domestica.

Geographic areas

Britain: Avon, Berkshire, Clwyd, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, London, Merseyside, Northumberland, Oxford, Somerset

Italy: Agrigento, Assisi, Florence, Naples, Palermo, Segesta

Turkey: Halicarnassus (Bodrum)

Greece: Athens

Key buildings and projects

Langton House, Dorset

Loughcrew House, Ireland

Royal Exchange, Carlton Club and Westminster Life & City Fire Office, London

The Taylor Institute, Oxford

Sezincote House, Gloucestershire

St George's Hall, Liverpool

Cataloguing status

Printed catalogue and cards and some online

Digitisation status

Approx. 670 items available on RIBApix.


Access to the drawings and archive material is via the RIBA Architecture Study Room.

The photographs, biographical files and books are accessed via the RIBA Library Reading Room.

Related collections

The V&A; The Royal Academy, London; University of Liverpool, Cambridge University Library; Canadian Centre for Architecture

St George's Hall, Lime Street, Liverpool, completed by Charles Robert Cockerell following an earlier design by Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, shown in a photograph taken c. 1892 / RIBA Collections

This is one entry in our growing series of research guides covering the significant people, practices and places in the RIBA Collections. For more information on all relevant catalogued material, please consult our online collections catalogue.

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