Matthew Digby Wyatt

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Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt (28 July 1820 – 21 May 1877) was a British architect and art historian who became Secretary of the Great Exhibition, Surveyor of the East India Company and the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge.[1] From 1855 until 1859 he was honorary secretary of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and in 1866 received the Royal Gold Medal.[2]


Born in Rowde, Wiltshire, Wyatt trained as an architect in the office of his elder brother, Thomas Henry Wyatt. He assisted Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the London terminus of the Great Western Railway at Paddington Station (1854) and later designed a considerable expansion to the Temple Meads station (1871–8) in Bristol. He also enlarged and rebuilt Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge (1866: now the Judge Institute of Management). He designed the Rothschild Mausoleum in the Jewish Cemetery at West Ham.[3]

In 1851, Wyatt produced the book The Industrial Arts of the Nineteenth Century, an imposing imperial folio in two volumes which illustrates a selection of items from the Great Exhibition of 1851.[4] The book, which has won widespread acclaim for the quality of its plates, appeared in two parts, with the first dated 1 October 1851, through to the extra illustrated title-pages dated 15 March 1853. There are 160 chromolithographed plates produced by a team of artists and lithographers including Francis Bedford, J. A. Vinter and Henry Rafter.

He was appointed to the post of Surveyor of the East India Company in 1855, shortly before its role in governing India was taken over by the Crown, and subsequently became Architect to the Council of India. In this role he designed the interiors of the India Office in London (1867: now part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) and the Royal Indian Engineering College (1871-3: now the Runnymede campus of Brunel University).

A paper on the construction of the exhibition building read before the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1866 was awarded the Telford medal.

His work included, c. 1869, a substantial private residence, known as 'Newells', not far from Leonardslee at Lower Beeding, near Horsham in Sussex, as mentioned in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6. Newells had been occupied as a preparatory school for boys from 1946 until destroyed by fire in 1968. Photographic images of the exterior and interior of the house when occupied by the prep. school can be seen at an external link given in the article 'Newells Preparatory School'.

Amongst the extravagant pieces he worked on was Robert Stephenson Works of Newcastle upon Tyne 1295 of 1862. This 2-2-4T for the Egyptian Railways survives with all its fantastical marquetry in the Egyptian Railway Museum at Cairo.[5] It is called the Khedive's Train.[6][7]

See also


  1. "Wyatt, Matthew Digby (WT820MD)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Waterhouse, Paul; Robinson, John Martin (2004). "Wyatt, Matthew Digby". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30109.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. Sharman Kadish, Jewish Heritage in England: An Architectural Guide, English Heritage, 2006, p. 35.
  4. Leathlean, Howard. The Archaeology of the Art Director? Some Examples of Art Direction in Mid-Nineteenth-Century British Publishing. Journal of Design History, Vol. 6, No. 4 (1993), pp. 229-245. Oxford University Press on behalf of Design History Society.
  5. Clothier, Alan: Robert Stephenson Abroad Egypt 1847–1859: Rocket Press, Newcastle Upon Tyne 2006 page 34.
  6. Illustrated at The Rail Museum, Cairo, Egypt - The Khedive Train, Exterior, retrieved 8 February 2014.
  7. Arab Republic of Egypt Railways Museum Catalogue, Cairo, 1979, English edition page 98 and plate two pages before.
  8. Newells photo album

External links