Arthur Beresford Pite 1861 - 1934
Arthur Beresford Pite was born on 2nd September 1861 in Newington London. The Pite lineage originated from Woodbridge Suffolk and can be traced back to the late 1600’s. Young Arthur was educated at Kings College School and in 1877 he entered the office of The Builder’s Journal doing mainly literary work; he also attended the Royal Architectural School. In 1878 he became a partner with notable architect John Belcher, whom he worked with until he won the RIBA Soane Medallion for his design for the West End Club House in 1882. Later that year Arthur travelled to the continent with his brother William (also an architect) before returning to Belcher’s practice, the partnership lasted 12 years.
On 20th April 1887 Arthur married Mary Kilvington Mowll at the Parish church of Whitfield in Dover and they moved to Brixton. They had four children, Grace Sarah (1888), Ion Beresford (1891), Arthur Goodhart (1896) and Mary (1897) who died shortly after birth.
Arthur continued working on his commissions including the Burlington Arcade Piccadilly, Christ Church Brixton, Kampala Cathedral in Uganda, a hospital in Jerusalem and a library in West Islington. He also served as professor of architecture at the Royal College of Art and Cambridge University where he was considered a gifted teacher and speaker. As an active church member he ran a bible school for young students and a weekly bible class for prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs Prison.
In 1889 he built Earlywood a large family house at Frinton, Essex. Here he enjoyed many happy holidays with his wide circle of friends and relatives. In 1903 he moved to York Gate, Regents Park London and it was there that his beloved wife Mary died in 1905.
30 Euston Square
In 1906 Pite began his commission to build the headquarters of the London, Edinburgh and Glasgow Assurance Company at Euston Square. It was a magnificent building of Portland stone, Grecian in style and spanning seven floors. It opened on 22nd January 1908. The main entrance hall was decorated in yellow and sage green Dolton tiles along with a mosaic floor features an astrological design. The director's boardrooms on the first floor were lined in oak with stunning marble fireplaces as their focal point. The basement housed the records for the Assurance Company; the walls were three feet thick in places and further protected by steel bomb-blast doors. The new office building was also fitted with a passenger lift, electric lighting and oil-fired central heating, considerably modern for it's time. Pite's detail was meticulous; each window arch was lined with white glazed brick. Light, which flooded the lower floors, was provided by five light wells also lined in white glazed brick. Further light was provided to the basement level by skylights. Pite was asked to add further extensions almost as soon as it was finished. He continued to enlarge the building for almost 20 years. With the widening of Euston Road in the late 1920’s the finial expansion took place; the architect this time was one of Pite’s contemporaries, Josiah Gunton. The London, Edinburgh and Glasgow Assurance Company moved out in 1910 and new occupants, the National Amalgamated Approved Society filled the space.
The Marylebone Years
At least half of Pite’s smaller commissions were in the Marylebone area off Oxford Street London. He always retained an office in this vicinity. At 48 Harley Street Pite was asked to make alterations on the property for Gibson Sankey. His trademark style of mosaic tiling, this time in blue glass, still remains today surrounding the entrance. Pite built 82 Mortimer Street circa 1900 for Doctor Dudley Buxton as a family house and consulting rooms. It was constructed of red brick and Portland stone with a basement and slated mansard. Pite regularly attended the Nash built All Souls Church in Langham Place where he was invited to design the Peace Memorial floor of 1918/19. Its Byzantine mosaic style is reminiscent of his floor in the London, Edinburgh and Glasgow Assurance Company’s entrance hall.
In 1914 Pite moved his home to Hampstead. Following Mary’s death his sister Mary Annie cared for Arthur and his family. His daughter Grace who suffered ill health spent most of her time at Earlywood with Sadler, the family’s nanny, as she felt the coastal air more beneficial. In 1930 Arthur moved to Beckenham Kent in order to live near his brother William and this is where on 27th November 1934 he died from exhaustion and skin cancer. He is buried with his wife, two daughters and sister in West Norwood cemetery London.
About Jeane Trend-Hill
Jeane Trend-Hill has carried out much research on Pite having worked in his Euston Square building for many years, which she had Grade 2 special listed due to its significant architectural importance. She owns a large collection of the Pite works including watercolors and sketches by William, Robert as well as Arthur, along with an extensive collection of slides and photographs. Jeane has written a book on her research titled ‘Arthur has left the buildings’ which can be obtained from: http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/arthur-has-left-the-buildings/2754125 all proceeds from the sale of the book go towards his grave restoration fund. Jeane also unveiled a plaque at West Norwood cemetery in November 2009 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of his death.
Grave restoration project
Arthur Beresford Pite is buried in West Norwood cemetery London. His grave has sustained much damage, the original copper inscriptions are missing and the grave is suffering from subsidence. We have started up a fund to carry out the necessary repairs and have his monument restored. All donations to the Pite Memorial Restoration Project will be gratefully received.
Please donate via
Important: Please add a note to your donation stating it’s for the Pite fund.
Jeane's website: www.homestead.com/askjeane
E mail: Jeane@abpite.silent-cities.com
All text, images and content copyright © Jeane Trend-Hill 2013. Any use of material on this website including reproduction, modification or distribution without prior written permission is strictly prohibited.
30 Euston Square Now
30 Euston Square was purchased by the Royal College of General Practitioners; The 100,000 sq ft space recently underwent a £22m refurbishment. The building will act as both the RCGP's new London headquarters and a venue for business and social events.