Tag Archives: Clerk of Works

The Structure of the Office of Works

Between the reforms of 1719 and the Economical Reform of 1782, the Office of Works did not change in organization very much.

The Board was formed of the Surveyor General, the Comptroller, the Master Mason, and the Master Carpenter. The organization and regulation of the Office of Works depended on the sovereign and technically the rules of the organization did not outlive the king. When the king died all work came to a shuddering halt and the organization went into a sort of suspension until the new monarch promulgated new rules or revived the old ones. This limbo was more technical than real though. When George III became king it took five or six years before the new regulations were formulated. Meanwhile, work continued.

George III’s one innovation to the Board was the addition of two Architects and consequent adjustment of the quorum.

The Board held regular weekly meetings, usually on a Wednesday or Friday, with a week or two off after Christmas. They also had additional meetings as necessary and went on a number of site visits to check on work in progress.

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Office of Works: Departmental Appointments

The Surveyor-General of the Office of Works was appointed by the King, but lesser departmental appointments, such as Joshua Kirby’s to Clerk of the Works at Richmond and Kew, were ordered by the Surveyor-General. The official record of these appointments or warrants in the period concerning Kirby is in the volume Warrants and Correspondence. Appointments. Surveyor General’s Warrants. 1733—1780. Departmental Appointments (WORK 6/9). While the names, dates and positions are all noted in Colvin’s History of the King’s Works, Volume 5, Appendix D, I thought it might be useful to list the contents of the book of Warrants. Most warrants are on separate pages, but occasionally there are two on a page. They proceed chronologically, except for occasional lapses. The pages have been lightly numbered in pencil, and I am following that pagination.

Seeing how the appointments group helps illustrate the ripple effect of promotions.


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