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 Silvanus Trevail 




Uupublished Article 2010


Henry Garling – 'who him?'


“Let me tell you a story ….”  by Malcolm Surl


A couple of months back, STS Secretary Ronald Perry asked me if I would contribute to this erudite publication “any amusing queries or anecdotes” in relation to our website. Well yes we do get quite a few queries about ST’s buildings - and some he didn’t design too - but one could never really describe the correspondence as ‘amusing’. Unless you count the lengthy e-mail exchanges we had about the Gents toilets that Trevail designed apparently to be sited just behind the Mansion House in London. That’s right, the home of the Lord Mayor of London (not to be confused with the Mayor of London’s abode on the other side of the river, the common name for which building by Norman Foster I will not repeat in such polite company). Given ST’s elaborate sanitary design, I do wonder just how many meetings with the Lord Mayor were actually held at his convenience.

And then Hazel reminded me that I have been talking about writing “a little something on Garling” for almost ten years now so “drekkly” was now nigh and it was time for a maiden article, a literary debut, a candidate for the Booker Prize. Yup, she was short on articles so needed a space-filler.

Now when we all give talks about Trevail’s life, we say something along the lines that “after Ledrah House school in St Austell, he left Cornwall in 1868 to train as an architect with Henry Garling in London and he returned about three years later to design Luxulyan school”. 

Hang on a minute. Who ?  

Henry Garling FRIBA of Bedford Row in London, that’s who

Never heard of him!  

Well, dear reader, the object of this short epistle is to answer a few questions about said Garling, describe how the Internet and e-mail have revolutionised research work  … and to pose a few more queries that the research has thrown up for you to ponder upon.

As was exclusively revealed in the 2002 edition of the Society’s Newsletter (qv), it was Peter Laws back in 1971 who first queried the when, where & with whom ST trained. With home computers still two decades away, Peter had to trek all the way up to London in person but his reward was that, finally, amidst dusty volumes still held at the RIBA, he found ST’s application made in 1892 for Fellowship of the RIBA. In this ST abnormally didn’t mention with whom he trained - he simply gave the address (11 Kings Road, Holborn). Thanks to more literal leg-work and thumbing through yet more dusty volumes, Peter eventually found that the occupier of said address was one Henry Garling FRIBA.

In more recent times, thanks to the Internet, one can do a large amount of research without leaving the warmth and comfort of one’s own keyboard and mouse. However, in the case of Henry Garling, there isn’t very much to be found even now and there was much less when I started looking a few years ago. Main thing that came up first though was that there were two of them. Henry Garling FRIBA and Henry Garling FRIBA. Yes, you’re ahead of me - father and son. But as both were extant in the late 1860’s, from which one of them was it that ST learnt his trade ?

For the definitive answer it was necessary to delve into some Garling family history. Here again, the situation has improved in leaps and bounds even in just the past couple of years. From having access only to the 1881 census on CD, courtesy of the Mormon Church, all censuses from 1841 to 1911 are now accessible on the Internet (though not necessarily very accurately indexed and not exactly cheap to access either). Anyway, they weren’t available when I started this research so a bit of deeper trawling was necessary. From this I found that the origin of the name is primarily Germanic and, like most names, there are many regional variations and derivations, including Garlinge - was that how the eponymous Margate suburb got its name? 

In the end I found a couple of potential Garling contacts so I e-mailed them - one in Germany and one in Australia. The latter never did bother to return contact but I was very pleased to receive within a matter of hours a comprehensive response from one Juan Carlos Garling. Now somehow that Christian name didn’t exactly strike me as typically Germanic. Transpires that my e-mail to Germany was promptly forwarded to Latin America where Juan Carlos maintains comprehensive records of Garlings worldwide. Obviously this sort of globalism is far more common now but I thought it quite telling to get through the ether from someone in a supposed third-world country copies of UK 1851 census entries & parish records which weren’t readily available here in the homeland at the time.

Thanks to Juan Carlos & various other sources, I have been able to piece together that Henry Garling (‘HG’ for short) was the son of John Frederick Garling & Caroline Burr. He was baptised on 8th April 1789 at St Andrews in Holborn (that very large Grade 1 listed Wren church at the west end of Holborn Viaduct). He followed in the footsteps of his uncle Nicholas to train as a surveyor and architect, completed his apprenticeship around 1811 and subsequently took over his uncle’s practice in Holborn when that family decamped to Australia (and decided henceforth not to reply to e-mails).

The re-modelling in 1811 of the East Front of Grimsthorpe Castle at Bourne in Lincolnshire (PE10 0LY if you want to find on your Sat-Nav) is attributed in many sources to “Henry Garling and Samuel Page”. 

Now when you look at the sheer size of the stately pile and find that the likes of Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor have previously had goes at it, how come a 22yr old ‘newbie’ was let loose on it ? Well the names should really be the other way around for Samuel Page was a well-respected architect of the era and it was to him that HG had been apprenticed.

HG’s subsequent career seems mainly to have been as a surveyor - some of his detailed Herefordshire estate maps still survive - but in 1818 he did redevelop the old Tuns Inn and Corn Market in the centre of Guildford to become the Corn Exchange and Assizes. Thankfully, the magnificent classical front still exists as the archwayed pedestrian entrance to the ‘Tunsgate’ development. Not unlike our ST, he was a good self-publicist as well as a good draughtsman so in Jan 1819 he presented the Mayor and “approved men of Guildford” with a coloured engraving of the street as it was before the old buildings were demolished.

Although one can also identify some of ST’s other traits from HG’s life, works and writings, it transpires though that ST was not ‘apprenticed’ to this Henry Garling after all. Proof is that HG retired as early as 1847 (confirmed by the occupation of “retired architect” in the 1851 census) and, at the age of 79, moved out of London in 1868 to spend the rest of his days at Southborough Hall between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Sadly, those days were to be very few as he died on 9th April 1870 while on a visit back to London. Although the two probably met, ST’s training in London between 1868 and 1870/1 must instead have been with his son.

Henry Bayly Garling (‘HBG’ for short) was the only son of HG and Isabella Bayly. She was the daughter of the vicar of Redbourn in Herts (near Hemel Hempstead) and they married on 15th Feb 1821. HBG was born on 12th January 1822 and, like his father, was subsequently baptised in St Andrews Holborn but sadly his mother Isabella died a week after giving birth so she missed the baptism and it was HG’s elder sister, Caroline, who helped to bring up the youngster. I haven’t managed to find out much about his early life other than that he obtained the Freedom of Goldsmiths by patrimony (his father also having been a Goldsmith) at the age of 21 in 1843 and that he then seems to have taken over his father’s practice when he was 25.

By 1851 the practice had moved around the corner from Little James Street to number 11 King’s Road, Bedford Row, Holborn. King’s Road (later to become Southampton Row & Kingsway according to one source or Theobald’s Road to another) isn’t joined to or adjacent to the street called Bedford Row, so presumably at that time ‘Bedford Row’ also served as the name of the locality.

It is in 1857 though that HBG really hits the headlines by beating George Gilbert Scott and other well-respected architects in the competition to design a new Foreign Office in London. Fame and the prize money were his but his design was in fact never used. The reasons for this, the politics that surrounded the competition and that the new FO when eventually built some years later was to a GG Scott design after all …. is another story.

Now as well as being a respected member of the profession (he delivered a well received paper to the RIBA in 1858), HBG was a very cultured person but, nonetheless, had a good eye for business opportunities when they arose (bells beginning to ring?). In an advertisement in 1856 seeking to raise funds for “The Dutch Laundry Company”, he is listed as a director (still at 11 Kings Road) but whether or not the resulting shareholders were subsequently taken to the cleaners is not known. (Thanks to a recent find by Hazel, the outcome for shareholders of the Valencia Slate Slab Co Ltd in which he also had an interest probably wasn’t so rosy as it was wound up in April 1872).  

"While a local resident in Southborough, Henry Bayly Garling was responsible for the extension of the St. Thomas church located on Pennington Road, which was built in 1860. Set in attractive gardens, it has some stained glass windows. The church was established and entirely funded by a local lady benefactor Mrs Sarah Pugh" Juan Carlos Garling

After all this activity in the late 1850’s, he crops up in 1860 as the architect of the works at St Thomas’s church in Southborough but then he seems to have disappeared from view again for several years. Despite many attempts with various spellings, he has yet to be traced in the 1861 census so apart from a lease renewal on 11 Kings Road in 1867, literally the next mention is when ST goes to train with him, probably quite early in 1868.

1870-71 proved to be huge turning points in HBG’s life. Firstly, his father died in April 1870 so he took over the lease on Southborough Hall for himself and he seems to have moved there full-time pretty soon thereafter - he was certainly there with his entourage in the 1871 census. Secondly, a woman entered into his bachelor life and he married, at the tender age of just 49.

His bride at All Saints in Notting Hill on 2nd Feb 1871 was Mariam Newby (b1830 in Bury St Edmunds). She was the daughter of Thomas Cautley Newby, the publisher of the early books by the Bronte sisters …apparently they were not particularly enamoured of him, but that too is another story. HBG did some work on St James Church in Elstead near Farnham in Surrey in 1872 but he then seems to have wound down the business, formally retiring to Folkestone in 1879 to dedicate his time to landscape painting (for which he now seems to be better remembered than architecture).

Although both died in Folkestone - Mariam in 1903 and HBG six years later - both were buried at St Peter’s Church back up in Southborough. Whether or not Garling / Garlinge Road in Southborough was connected with the family isn’t known.  

To return to ST’s training, it is now looking as if he left Ledrah House in St Austell  before the end of the 1867/8 school year - possibly even at the end of the Christmas term - so he would have gone to London in early 1868 but when did he return to Cornwall ? His finished plans for Luxulyan School are marked Carne, Luxulyan, February 1871 (it opened in March 1872) and he is shown living with his parents in the 1871 census on April 2nd. He could of course have started the initial work on the plans ‘off site’ but if he went to London in Jan 1868, a return in Jan 1871 would nicely make it a full three years.

As to the why he returned to Cornwall aged just 19, well there’s the obvious one of his uncle obtaining for him the commission to design Luxulyan school, but I do wonder if this is the whole story. Peter Laws’ commented about it being unusual to quote in an RIBA application just the address of where training was undertaken, rather than the name of the practice. This made me wonder if there was some sort of a falling out. Did perhaps HBG’s courting intrude on his professional commitments and/or on ST’s training ? And did this influence ST’s views on career versus marriage at all? Or did HBG effectively close down the London office and decamp to Southborough with undue haste as soon as his father had died ? 

With websites, I-pads, knee-pads and e-mail, it would be dangerous, nay foolhardy, to say ‘we’ll never know’ because one never knows quite what’s coming next through the ether. Case in point is a chap in North London who was turfing out his loft the other day and came across some 100 year-old diaries. Rather than just putting them in the recycling, he entered the writer’s name into Google and up popped one of my family history websites so he e-mailed kindly offering them to me. They are absolute gems, the work of my dad’s 1st cousin, and they arrived here two days later. Now I wonder what use ST would have made of the Internet. Doubtless daily e-mailed letters of disgust to the Telegraph, a no-holds-barred Website and I can just see his page on Facebook now …. but would he have Twittered ?

To conclude, at least we now know which Henry Garling it was with whom ST trained and a little more about the fellow himself but the burning question remains: Why Garling in the first place ?  Ah, that’s another story.

 Sincere thanks are due to Juan Carlos Garling for the info he provided and the 3 photos here

MGS 12/02/2010 updated 27/07/2020


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