Sir Thomas Graham Jackson (1835-1924) was a major figure in the late-Victorian architectural scene. He was born in Hampstead in north-west London, and educated at Brighton College and then Oxford, where he became a Fellow of Wadham in 1864. He served his articles with Sir George Gilbert Scott, and is perhaps best known for his Examination Schools in Oxford (1876-82), and other striking buildings there — so much so that James Bettley writes: "no other architect has altered the face of Oxford so greatly." Indeed, when he was awarded an honorary degree from Oxford, Jackson was described in the citation as "Artifex Oxoniensissime" (see Bettley).

In his history of Brasenose College, Oxford, J. Mordaunt Crook explains that

by 1880, Jackson had established himself as architect to the Liberals of Oxford. He could almost be described as the darling of the progressives. His Oxford practice had been launched with the new Examination Schools (1876-85); it continued with an impressive series of college extensions: Corpus, Lincoln, and Somerville, Wadham, Trinity, and Hertford. But Brasenose was earlier than any of these. Thanks probably to Humphry Ward, the college engineered his appointment, and thus secured a rising star. Now Jackson's style was distinctive: an eclectic compound of Elizabethan and Jacobean, flexible, secular, and picturesque. It was sometimes called 'Advanced Jacobean'. Whatever it was, it represented a calculated escape from the rigidities of collegiate Gothic. And it was a style based on considerable learning. Jackson was a gentleman scholar as well as a gentleman architect. He had no trouble fitting in with the ethos of the Brasenose Common Room. He was already a Fellow of Wadham; he would soon be a Royal Academician; and he would end his days a full-blown baronet. [290-91]

Among his many important restorations was vital underpinning work, with the engineer Sir Francis Fox, at Winchester Cathedral. For securing the cathedral's stability, he was made a baronet in 1913. This was an "unprecedented" honour for an architect (Bettley)

Hare Court, western range

As for his own preferred style, Jackson's training was obviously in Gothic, and he wrote a two-volume book, Gothic Architecture in France, England and Italy, published by Cambridge University Press in 1915 (he had previously written about Byzantine and Romanesque architecture), claiming in the preface that it had "attained its perfect development in France and England." From early on he was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement, and joined the Art Workers' Guild in 1889, becoming its master in 1896 (see Whyte). He was also closely associated with Richard Norman Shaw, with whom he edited Architecture, A Profession or an Art? in 1892. The title suggests the stance, and indeed, according to Andrew Saint, "It was some time since a matter of principle had so thoroughly divided Victorian architectural thinking" (346).

In the 1890s, at Hare Court, Inner Temple, London, Jackson was working in the Queen Anne style popular at the time, also called neo-Jacobean: Reginald Turnor describes him as "a confident exponent of the Jacobean style" (104). — Jacqueline Banerjee

Architectural works

Related Material


Bettley, James. "Jackson, Sir Thomas Graham, first Baronet (1835-1924)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 21 December 2011.

Crook, Joseph Mordaunt. Brasenose: The Biography of an Oxford College. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Jackson, Thomas Graham. Gothic Architecture in France, England and Italy. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915. Internet Archive. Web. 21 December 2011.

Saint, Andrew. Richard Norman Shaw. New York: Yale University Press, 2009.

Turnor, Reginald. Nineteenth Century Architecture in Britain. London: Batsford, 1950.

Whyte, Wiliam. "Founder Members of the Art-Workers' Guild." Theme. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 21 December 2011.

Last modified 1 October 2012