|Knives and Forks|
|Architect, designer and an eccentric, William Burges
was one of the leading exponents of the Gothic Revival in the nineteenth
century. The son of a civil engineer, Burges was educated at King’s College,
London, where he was a contemporary of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and later
articled to the architect Edward Blore. As his interest in Gothic architecture
grew, Burges moved to the offices of Matthew Digby Wyatt, a leading authority on
medieval decorative art and the designer of the Great Exhibition of
William or ‘Billy’ Burges never married, believing that marriage would interfere with his ‘beautiful tastes’ (to Burges, as to many Victorian gentlemen, this included ratting and opium). A jovial man, who often incorporated visual puns within his furniture-designs, he was exceptionally short-sighted and once mistook a peacock for a man.
Today Burges’s legacy can be seen in a number of buildings around the country. These include Cardiff Castle, refurbished by Burges for his patron, the Marquess of Bute and Castell Coch, an extraordinary French medieval concoction in the heart of Wales.
Burges’s own house (Tower House), which he designed, is still standing today at Melbury Road, High Street Kensington, London.
The William Burges Collection held at the Gallery, has, in the main, come from the Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read Collection. In 1974, the Gallery acquired over 200 items from the collection after the Handley-Reads deaths.