William Henry Crossland

Place of Birth
Huddersfield and London

William Henry Crossland, was born in Huddersfield and baptized at Elland on 10 May 1835, the son of Henry Crossland, a stonemason, and his wife, Eleanor, née Wilkinson. He was a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott, and worked under him at Akroydon, near Halifax.  On 1 October 1859 he married Lavinia Cardwell Pigot (1837–1879) at St Pancras Old Church in London; they had one daughter. His wife died at Boulogne on 7 January 1879 and was buried at Highgate cemetery, though by this time Crossland was involved with an actress many years his junior, named Ruth Elizabeth Hatt, née Tilley (1853–1892), with whom he then lived until her death in 1892, and with whom he had several children.

An architectural practice centred on the Yorkshire towns of Halifax, Huddersfield, and Leeds followed. For the Church of England Crossland designed at least sixteen new churches and restored ten others. For Sir John William Ramsden he designed the Kirkgate Buildings (1878–85), Byram Arcade (1878–81), and the Ramsden estate office (1868–74) in the centre of Huddersfield and Rochdale Town Hall, built in 1866-71.

Crossland then shifted his allegiance to the south of England and to Thomas Holloway, a man who had made a fortune from the sale of patent medicines, but who then set about spending his fortune on others. In 1872 Crossland, with John Philpott-Jones (d. 1875) and Edward Salomons (1827–1906), entered, and won, an architectural competition for a middle-class asylum which Holloway wished to erect. However, before building work started, Philpott-Jones had died and Salomons had lost interest, leaving Crossland to inherit the commission. What emerged from the Surrey heathland at Virginia Water between June 1873 and 1885 was, at least in part, a recreation of Rochdale town hall and its large central hall (it is now a private housing development and known as Virginia Park).

Crossland's next commission was Royal Holloway College at Egham (now part of the University of London), a women's college, and one which was intended to give women the same educational opportunities as men. The inspiration came from Vassar College in the United States, and the architectural precedents from the châteaux of the Loire, and particularly from Chambord. The first brick was laid in 1879, the skyline was up by 1881, and the college was opened by Queen Victoria on 30 June 1886.

Shortly after completing Royal Holloway College, Crossland slipped into obscurity. He stopped designing, and his name disappeared from RIBA records in the 1890s. He died of a stroke in a north London lodging-house, 57 Albert Street, Regent's Park, on 14 November 1908 and left just £29.