Joseph Kay (architect)

Joseph Kay (1775—1847) was an English architect, particularly active in the early years of the 19th century, and associated with the layout of central Greenwich and with Hastings. He was one of the original members of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and was elected a fellow in 1834.[1]

Early careerEdit

Kay was a pupil of Samuel Pepys Cockerell,[2] and studied European architecture during a trip (1802-1805)[1] alongside Robert Smirke. In 1807, he married Sarah Henrietta Porden (1785-1859), the eldest daughter of architect William Porden; he was assistant to Porden during the building of the second Eaton Hall near Chester, Cheshire (1804–1812).[2] One of his earliest work in his own right was interior design of the Assembly Rooms in Clifton, Bristol, c.1811.[1]

Professional practiceEdit

In London, as surveyor to the Foundling Hospital,[3] he designed houses on the east side of Mecklenburgh Square (1810–21), and, as clerk of works to Greenwich Hospital,[3] he remodelled the town centre (creating Nelson Street, College Approach and the Market) in Greenwich (1829);[2][4][5] the nearby Trafalgar Tavern (1837) is also his work.[6][7] In Edinburgh he designed the Post Office in Waterloo Place.[2] His masterpiece was Pelham Crescent with the Church of St Mary-in-the-Castle in the centre, in Hastings, Sussex (1824–1828), built for Thomas Pelham, 2nd Earl of Chichester;[3][8] Colvin described it:

"The church is top-lit and has an Ionic prostyle portico, while beneath the terrace in front of the whole composition is an ingenious structure intended for shops and services."[2]

Other buildings by Kay in Hastings also survive, including the Cupola and Belmont House.[9]


Kay and his wife had at least eight children (two boys and six girls). Their eldest son, William Porden Kay (1809–1897)[10] also became an architect, emigrating to Australia in 1842 to become a Director of Public Works,[2] and designing Hobart's Government House.[11] The second son, Joseph Henry Kay (1815-1875), became a naval officer and one of Australia's first geophysicists, a foundation member of the Royal Society of Tasmania and a fellow of the Royal Society (elected on 26 February 1846 for his work on geomagnetism).[12]


  1. ^ a b c "1811: The Assembly Rooms, Clifton". The Spas Directory. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Joseph Kay (1775-1847) - based on Colvin (1995) A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture". Oxford Index. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "St Mary in the Castle". Theatres Trust. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Maritime Greenwich: World Heritage Site - Management plan" (PDF). Visit Greenwich. Royal Borough of Greenwich. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Historic Regeneration Schemes". The Greenwich Phantom. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Greenwich Town Centre". Maritime Greenwich. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich, c. 1850". Ideal Homes: A history of south east London suburbs. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  8. ^ "About St Marys - History". St Mary in the Castle. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  9. ^ Redwood, Fred (25 September 2016). "The life of sex, scandal and tragedy lived by Winston Churchill's cousin, Clare Sheridan". Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Joseph Kay". Royal Academy Collections. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  11. ^ Banham, Joanna (1997). Dictionary of Internal Design. Routledge. p. 81. ISBN 9781136787584.
  12. ^ Green, Ronald (1967). "Kay, Joseph Henry (1815–1875)". Australian Dictionary of Biography (2). Retrieved 26 September 2016.