John Nash (architect)

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John Nash (Lambeth, 18 January 1752 – East Cowes Castle, 13 May 1835) was a British architect responsible for much of the layout of Regency London.



Born in Lambeth, London, the son of a Welsh millwright, Nash trained with the architect Sir Robert Taylor. He established his own practice in 1777, but his career was initially unsuccessful and short-lived. After inheriting £1000[1] in 1778 from his uncle Thomas, he invested the money in 1777-78 in building his first known independent works in Bloomsbury building 15-17 Bloomsbury Square and 66-71 Great Russell Street. But the property failed to let and he was declared bankrupt in 1783 and left London in 1784 to live in Carmarthen, where his mother had retired to, her family being from the area. His first major work in the area being the Gaol at Carmarthen 1789-92. He also designed a series of medium sized country houses in south-west Wales including Llanerchaeron. He met Humphry Repton at Hafod Uchtryd in 1795, he formed a successful partnership with the landscape garden designer. One of their early commissions was at Corsham Court. The pair would collaborate to carefully place the Nash-designed building in grounds designed by Repton. Eventually, Nash returned to work in London, in 1795. The partnership ended in 1800 under recriminations[2], Repton accusing Nash of exploiting their partnership to his own advantage.

His first significant commission on returning to London in 1795-6 was Hereford gaol. In June 1797 he moved into 28 Dover Street a building of his own design, he built an even bigger house next door at 29 into which he moved the following year. Nash married Mary Ann Bradley on the 17th December 1798 at St George's, Hanover Square[3]. The bride was 25 years old. In 1798 he purchased a plot of land of 30 acres (120,000 m2) at East Cowes[4]. On the land he erect 1798-1802 East Cowes Castle as his residence. This was the first of a series of picturesque Gothic castles that he would design.

In 1806 Nash was appointed architect to the Surveyor General of Woods, Forests, Parks, and Chases. From 1810 Nash would take very few private commissions[5]. Nash was a dedicated Whig[6] and was a friend of Charles James Fox through whom Nash probably came to the attention of the Prince Regent (later King George IV) and for the rest of his career he would largely work for the Prince. His first major commissions in 1811 from the Prince was Regent Street and the development of an area then known as Marylebone Park. With the Regent's backing (and major inputs from Repton), Nash created a master plan for the area, put into action from 1818 onwards, which stretched from St James’s northwards and included Regent Street, Regent's Park and its neighbouring streets, terraces and crescents of elegant town houses and villas. Nash did not complete all the detailed designs himself; in some instances, completion was left in the hands of other architects such as James Pennethorne and the young Decimus Burton. Nash was employed by the Prince to develop his Marine Pavilion in Brighton, originally designed by Henry Holland. By 1822 Nash had finished his work on the Marine Pavilion, which was now transformed into the Royal Pavilion.

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