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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Carr (1723–1807)

Architect, in his day generally considered to be the most significant in the north of England. Born in Horbury, near Wakefield, Carr’s father was a mason-architect, who was employed as a county surveyor for the West Riding. Carr succeeded his father in this job and later acquired a similar position in the North Riding. An early work was the design for the decoration of Kirby Hall, Yorkshire (1747–c. 1755). Later he was responsible for the grandstand at York racecourse (1755–56). Carr was one of the most productive of eighteenth-century English architects, largely involved in domestic work and enjoying the patronage of the Whig establishment, notably that of Charles Watson-Wentworth, second Marquess of Rockingham, who helped him to establish a network of clients. Work included: Somerset House, Halifax; Newark Town Hall; York County Lunatic Hospital; the Ferry Bridge connecting Ferrybridge and Brotherton, Yorkshire; Constable Burton, Yorkshire; Tabley House, Cheshire; Denton Park, Yorkshire; Basildon House, Berkshire; The Crescent, Buxton; and Harewood House, Yorkshire. Carr was also responsible for housing on the fourth Earl Fitzwilliam’s estate at Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire. Originally influenced by Palladio, later he designed buildings in which the relationship to the landscape garden was fully acknowledged: rooms were designed in order that exterior prospects could be viewed; façades adjacent to the richest landscapes might be severe, but those located near prosaic vistas could be more intricate. Early on he was assisted by William Lindley (1739–1818) who, from 1774, set up his own highly successful architectural practice. Carr had a painstaking attitude towards construction and maintenance issues in his buildings, employing damp- proof courses, double-glazing and metal reinforcement. He suggested an innovative form of roofing felt for a racecourse grandstand at Kelso, although this was not implemented. Carr was recognised by his contemporaries as significant and prolific, illustrated by his invitation to join the London Architects’ Club in 1791.

Bibliography: I. Hall, ‘Carr, John (1723–1807)’, ODNB, 2004; H.M. Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600–1840, 3rd edn., New Haven and London, 1995; D. White and E. Norman, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Liverpool, 2015, pp. 83–84, 270–73.

Darcy White, 2015