PROP­ERTY OF THE WEEK

A house in St Leonards-on-Sea built by the fa­ther-and-son ar­chi­tects James and Dec­imus Bur­ton

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Consumer -

‘Rich, cool, well-dressed, ap­par­ently celi­bate,” was how the scholar Guy Wil­liams de­scribed Dec­imus Bur­ton, the ar­chi­tect of Hyde Park and Lon­don Zoo.

Bur­ton came from se­ri­ous stock. His fa­ther was the Ge­or­gian ar­chi­tect and de­vel­oper James Bur­ton, his cousin was the civil ser­vant Lord Hal­ibur­ton (Dec­imus’ an­ces­tral name had been trun­cated in the 1790s fol­low­ing a fam­ily feud) and his brother mapped Egypt’s Val­ley of the Kings. They were an emo­tional bunch, wrote Wil­liams, ex­cept for Dec­imus, who was un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally dis­pas­sion­ate. Hence, per­haps, the celibacy.

He was also a man (or rather, a teenager) of re­solve. Tu­tored first by his fa­ther, he en­tered the of­fice of John Nash in 1815 aged 15. His fa­ther had struck a deal. Nash had a fa­mously ex­trav­a­gant wife who had bankrupted him. James agreed to fund Nash’s projects in Re­gent’s Park in ex­change in part for the pro­mo­tion of his son’s ca­reer. But Dec­imus was in no way in­clined to kow­tow to his em­i­nent men­tor.

Later charged with de­sign­ing a se­ries of ter­races, he fol­lowed his own tune to such an ex­tent that Nash or­dered (un­suc­cess­fully) that one of them be de­mol­ished.

First and fore­most, Dec­imus loved gen­tle­men’s clubs. When he was 24, he de­signed the neo­clas­si­cal Athenaeum Club on Pall Mall, which was built by his fa­ther’s com­pany. The stair­case was “dis­tinctly Egyp­tian in flavour” wrote Wil­liams. Per­haps Dec­imus took note from his brother at least.

Fans can pur­chase an­other Bur­ton col­lab­o­ra­tion in St Leonards-on-Sea. A six-bed­room house was laid out by James and ex­panded by Dec­imus. It is £1.4mil­lion with Phillips & Stubbs (01797 227338; phillip­sand­stubbs. co.uk), and is cer­tainly fit for the cool, rich and well-dressed.

Melissa Law­ford

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