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James Wyatt

James Wyatt, architect, is buried in the south transept of Westminster Abbey, not far from the graves of Robert Adam and Sir William Chambers. He was Surveyor of the Fabric at the Abbey from 1776 to his death. His monument on the wall nearby is of white marble in a grey frame and within the pediment is a sculptured coat of arms: "gules, on a fess or, three boars' heads couped, two lions passant". The inscription reads:

Sacred to the memory of James Wyatt, Esqr.[Esquire] who, having devoted many years of his youth to the study of the pure models of antiquity abroad, was at the early age of twenty two transcendantly distinguished in his profession as an architect in this country; and having sustained the dignity of that profession for forty five years, during the principal part of which he held the offices of architect of this church and Surveyor General of His Majesty's Works, departed this life on the 4th day of September 1813. In private life he was remarkable for his meek, unassuming and disinterested dispostions; his professional ability was the combined result of superior genius, science and energy

He was a son of Benjamin Wyatt (died 1772), farmer and builder, and his wife Mary (Wright) and was born on 3rd August 1746 at Weeford in Staffordshire. His brothers Samuel and Joseph worked in the building trade and John was a surgeon. James was sent to Italy to study architecture and painting. He became well known after the opening of his Pantheon in London and the famous Adam brothers saw him as a rival. He designed various country houses and town residences, including interiors, for aristocrats, such as Chiswick House in west London, Heveningham Hall in Suffolk and Castle Coole in Ireland. As Surveyor General he did work in the royal houses and at Oxford his Radcliffe Observatory is well known. He played a major role in the Gothic revival in England. At the Abbey the repair of the exterior of Henry VII's chapel was carried out in his time. His wife was Rachel Lunn and they had four sons Benjamin Dean Wyatt, Matthew (a painter), Charles and Philip. Their daughter Jane died young. James died in a carriage accident when it overturned and he was fatally injured.

Son Benjamin was educated at Westminster School and succeeded his father as Surveyor at the Abbey.

A bi-centenary wreath laying took place on 5th September 2013.

Further Reading

"James Wyatt. Architect to George III" by J.M.Robinson, 2012

"James Wyatt" by A. Dale (1956)

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Born

3rd August 1746

Died

4th September 1813

Field

Architect

Location

South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type

Grave; tablet

Material Type

Marble

James Wyatt
James Wyatt

By John Opie (died 1807) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

James Wyatt
James Wyatt memorial

© The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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