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Decimus Burton

Decimus Burton (30 September 1800-December 1881) was a prolific English architect and garden designer, particularly associated with projects in the classical style in London parks, including buildings at Kew Gardens and London Zoo, and with the layout and architecture of the seaside towns of Fleetwood and St Leonards on Sea and of Tunbridge Wells. (His strange first name is attributed to him being the 10th child in his family.)

Table of contents
1 Regent's Park
2 Kew
3 Fleetwood
4 Other Burton projects
5 Death
6 Links

Regent's Park

Burton initially trained in the architectural and building practice run by his father James Burton (1761-1837), and then with John Nash for whom he elaborated on the designs of Cornwall Terrace, facing London's Regent's Park. His first major project (1823) was nearby: an enormous domed exhibition hall, the Coliseum (no longer standing – it was demolished in 1875 and the site is now occupied by the Royal College of Physicians). After this, he was appointed to design the gardens and buildings at the adjacent new London Zoo (the llama building (1828), complete with clock tower, no longer houses animals but is used as a shop, and is a Grade II listed building – as is his later (1834) Giraffe House).

He was responsible for planning the lay-out of Hyde Park (1825), and, at its south-east corner (Hyde Park Corner), designed the triumphal arch, the Wellington or Constitution Arch, to form the main western entrance to St. James's Park and Green Park.


He had a 30-year association with Kew Gardens, starting initially with the layout of gardens and paths before moving on to major buildings. With iron founder Richard Turner, he designed the glass and iron Palm House at Kew (1844-1848); at the time, this greenhouse was the largest in the world at 363ft long, 100ft wide and 66ft high. He then designed the even larger Temperate House, but did not live to see the project completed (although a section opened in 1863, lack of funds meant it was not finally completed until 1898). Other projects at Kew included the Victoria Gate (1848) and the Water Lily House (1852).


The other major concentration of Burton’s work is at Fleetwood on the Lancashire coast. Burton's work with his father on the East Sussex town of St Leonards on Sea (1827-1837) had impressed wealthy landowner Sir Peter Hesketh and he commissioned Burton to lay out his new port and seaside resort. Burton's buildings include the North Euston Hotel, Pharos Lighthouse and Lower Lighthouse, Queen's Terrace, St Peter's Church, the Town Hall and his own house on Dock Street (where he lived until 1844).

Other Burton projects


Decimus Burton retired in 1869, died in December 1881 and was buried alongside his father and other members of his family beneath a distinctive
pyramid-shaped memorial in the churchyard at West Hill Road, St Leonards, East Sussex.

Links – Burton St Leonards Society