Joseph Paxton

Landscape Gardner
Place of Birth
Woburn, Bedfordshire

  • Born:     3 August 1803
  • Died:     8 June 1865

Joseph Paxton is principally remembered as the designer of the Crystal Palace in London for the Great Exhibition of 1851. He was born on 3 August 1803 at Milton Bryan (or Bryant) in Bedfordshire, the youngest of the eight children of William Paxton, an agricultural labourer, and his wife, Ann Rooke. He had the good fortune early in life to attract the attention of the Duke of Devonshire who ultimately proved his great patron and benefactor. The magnificent conservatory at Chatsworth and unrivalled gardens are monuments to his skill. He was the successful designer of the building erected in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and was knighted in acknowledgement of his services.  Sir Joseph was also the architect of the re-built Crystal Palace at Sydenham and one of the most active directors of the company. He was for some years the editor of the Horticultural Register, and of the Botanical Magazine, the Cottages’ Calendar, and of the Botanical Dictionary. He was a Magistrate in the county of Derby, a Director of the Midland Railway, and Chairman of the Manchester Buxton, Matlock and Midland’s Junction Railway. He was first elected MP for Coventry in 1854.

Early in 1863 he collapsed, probably from a heart attack, and he never really recovered. His last commission was the laying out the park at Dunfermline, Fife, which he and Stokes surveyed in September 1864. He died on 8 June 1865 and was buried at Edensor, the Chatsworth estate village, on 15 June.  He left a personal estate valued at just under £180,000.

In Manchester Joseph Paxton furnished proposals for the laying out of the Layout of Infirmary Grounds, and Esplanade, Piccadilly. The elevation or perspective drawing was mounted a handsome gilt frame, glazed, and signed “Joseph Paxton.” The plan also bears Sir Joseph’s signature with the date 16th of January 1854.

1856: 18, New Street, London.

1865: Rock Hills Sydenham.

RIBA 'Directory of British Architects 1834-1914' for an extensive bibliography.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Manchester Guardian 17 June 1865 page 5 –  Paxton funeral at Edensor