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June 8, 2009

Newton, Ernest (1856-1922)

After having been at school at Uppingham, he entered the office of Richard Norman Shaw, with whom he spent the following six years. Here in the company of a gifted band of young students the influence of this talented teacher made-as was evidenced more especially in Newton’s earlier days-a strong impress on his trend of design, and helped to imbue him with that appreciative feeling for, and grasp of, English Renaissance domestic architecture which characterize his work.

Established on his own account there fell to him much work of this special nature, for his province consisted almost entirely in the designing of new country houses or modifying or adding to existing ones. His few excursions into architecture of an ecclesiastical nature include the house of retreat and chapel for the Sisters of Bethany, and St. Swithin’s church, Hither Green, the latter an interesting and successful departure from the normal plan, with a choir diminishing in width towards the east end. Newton’s domestic work shows in its later phases more than in his first essays the influence of the architecture of the 18th century. Still, neither then nor earlier is it rigidly bound by tradition, but speaks an educated individuality.

Amongst his houses are Buller’s Wood, Chislehurst; Redcourt, Haslemere; Steephill, Jersey, a house set in an old and typical Jersey garden; and Ardenrun Place, Blindley Heath. His literary work includes A Book of Houses and his particular speciality – A Book of Country Houses. In the first year of the World War, Newton’s position as president of the Royal Institute of British Architects and his professional acquirements were utilized by the Government, and under the Ministry of Munitions and its Labour Department, he was largely responsible in 1916, and entirely so in 1917, for dealing with the control of every type of constructional work, including such important undertakings as railways and electric schemes. He also, as expert adviser, considered claims for exemptions in the building trades generally – a post of great responsibility. He became R.A. in 1919, and was awarded a C.B.E. in 1920. He died in London Jan. 25 1922.