E. T. Richmond Papers

Scope and Content

The collection comprises personal and family correspondence, much of it from Richmond to his wife during periods of separation while on service in Egypt (1895-1911), during war service in Belgium, Gibraltar and France (1914-1918) and while working for the administration in Palestine (1920-1924, 1927-1937), as well as during his travels in Britain and in Italy. In addition Richmond wrote extensively to his brother Sir Herbert Richmond and those letters which relate chiefly to affairs in Palestine were preserved by Sir Herbert and returned to Richmond after his death. The collection also includes diaries of Richmond and his wife and articles and essays by Richmond on a variety of subjects related to his service in Egypt and Palestine. There is a strong religious bias to much of Richmond's writings, particularly after his conversion to Catholicism in 1926. After his retirement in 1937 Richmond spent a short time living in Italy and kept notebooks and diaries on the history and architecture of the country. Other family records include photographs of Mrs. Richmond's family.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ernest Tatham Richmond was born in 1874, the son of Sir William Blake Richmond, the painter.

He first travelled to Egypt in 1895 to help Somers Clarke prepare illustrations for his book on the Temple of Amenhotep III and the following year was appointed Assistant Architect to the Comité pour la Conservation des Monuments de l'Art Arabe in Cairo under Herz Bey. From 1902 to 1903 he was attached to the Royal Engineers and worked for the Army of Occupation under General Talbot, building barracks and houses for the troops. The following year he was appointed to a position as architect to the Ministry of Public Works in Cairo and from 1900 to 1911 was Director of the Department of Towns and State Buildings at the Ministry. During this period he married Margaret Muriel Lubbock and set up home in a newly contructed house at Zenein. He became increasingly disenchanted with life in Egypt and in particular unhappy with the separations from his wife and three young children, and in 1911 gave up his position to return to private architectural practice in England.

In 1914 with the outbreak of war, Richmond joined the ambulance service, serving for a short time in Belgium. The following year he was appointed to a position in the Ministry of Works, with responsibility for the supply of grenades. In late 1915 an accident with a grenade damaged his left hand and affected his health in general. His next appointment was to a temporary commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, probably in naval intelligence, when he saw service in Gibraltar for 7 months in 1917. Dissatisfied with the work, he requested a return to England in September of that year. After a short period as architect to the War Graves Commission in France, he spent the remaining months of the war as consulting architect to the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem.

In 1919 Richmond returned to London and worked in partnership with Herbert Baker. The following year he received an invitation from the High Commissioner in Palestine to join the administration as a link between it and the Arab population. He served as Assistant Civil Secretary (Political) with special responsibility for Arab affairs from 1921 to 1924. Increasingly out of step with the administration, he resigned his post in 1924 and spent the next three years in England. In 1927 he returned to Palestine as Director of Antiquities, retiring ten years later.

In 1926 Richmond was accepted into the Roman Catholic Church, and thereafter his strong religious faith played a major part in his life and features prominently in his writings. Plans to settle in Italy after retirement were abandoned with the outbreak of war and Richmond settled in Gloucestershire where he continued to write and to take an interest in affairs in Palestine. He died in 1955.

Richmond's publications include Building methods in Egypt, in the Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 3rd series, v 18 no 15 (1911); The significance of Cairo, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Jan 1913); British policy in Palestine and the Mandate in The Near East, 26 Mar 1925, 329-331; 2 Apr 1925, 351-2; and 9 Apr 1925, 381-2; 'England' in Palestine in The Nineteenth Century, Jul 1925, 46-51; The sites of the crucifixion and the resurrection, London, Catholic Truth Society (1935); Basilica of the Nativity and The Church of the Nativity in Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine, 5 no 3 & 6 no 2 (1936); Dictatorship in the Holy Land, in The Nineteenth Century and After, 123 (Feb 1938), 186-192.


The papers are arranged chronologically within the following sections:

  • 1. Family Correspondence
  • A. E.T. Richmond correspondence 
    • (i) Egypt, 1895-1911
    • (ii) Private practice, 1911-1912
    • (iii) World War I, 1914-1918
    • (iv) Private practice in London, 1920
    • (v) Palestine, 1920-1924, 1927-1937
    • (vi) Retirement, 1937-1955
    • (vii) E.T. Richmond's death
  • B. Margaret Muriel Richmond correspondence
  • C. Other family members
  • 2. Writings by E.T. Richmond and M.M.Richmond (including diaries)
  • A. E.T. Richmond's diaries
  • B. M.M. Richmond's diaries
  • C. E.T. Richmond's articles and essays 
    • (i) Egypt
    • (ii) Munitions
    • (iii) Palestine
    • (iv) Italy
    • (v) Religion and other subjects
    • (vi) Hilaire Belloc
  • 3. Writings by other authors
  • 4. Family records, including photographs
  • 5. Photographic material other than family photographs
  • 6. Ephemera
  • 7. Books, including devotional literature

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Mrs. Sally Morphet on behalf of Richmond's grandchildren (Sally Morphet, Sophie Richmond, Emma Shackle and Sam Richmond), 2002.

Other Finding Aids

Available online at online catalogue

Separated Material

Material by E.T. Richmond about his father, Sir William Blake Richmond, is held at the Royal Academy, including letters to Ernest from his mother, 1867-1915 and from his sister, 1890-1939. Personal diaires of E.T. Richmond's brother, Sir Herbert Richmond, are held at the National Maritime Museum along with other material.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail PG.Library@durham.ac.uk) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.