The following article appeared The Vauxhall Society’s Newsletter in April 1985.
Sir Ernest George was one of the most successful of the later Victorian architects. Specialising in domestic buildings, his style was notable for the use of red brick and terracotta and his attention to details such as ironmongery, perhaps inherited from his father, a prosperous ironmonger.
Born on 13 June 1839, just off the New Kent Road, his family later moved to 36 Albert Square where he lived during his student days. At school he developed an interest in architecture and was articled to the architect Samuel Hewitt of the Adelphi, winning the Royal Academy Gold medal in his final year, 1859. In 1861 he went into partnership with Thomas Vaughan and later formed, with Harold Peto, one of the most successful architectural practices of his day.
Many eminent architects of future years served the practice as pupils including Edwin Lutyens. After he married in 1866 he moved to Crown Hill, Croydon, and in 1888, after his wife’s death at the age of 34, he built ‘Redroofs’ in Ryecroft Road, overlooking Streatham Common, where he lived until 1903.
Among the many buildings he designed were 18-20 South Audley Street in 1876, the Beehive Coffee Tavern (listed) and Hambly Houses on Streatham Common 1877-79, houses in Harrington Gardens and Collingham Gardens, South Kensington, including one for W.S.Gilbert in 1881-65, ‘Woolpits’ at Ellhurst, Surrey, for Sir Henry Doulton in 1885, Golders Green Crematorium in 1905, and the Royal College of Music, Marylebone Road, in 1910. He was President of the RIBA from 1908 to 1910, receiving a knighthood in 1911, and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1917, retirinq in 1920 at the age of 81. He died in 1922.
For further information, see the monograph by Brian Bloice, published by the Southwark & Lambeth Archaeological Society Local History Group