Records by Edward Godwin (1833-1886), architect and antiquary, of the Chelsea home of thepainter James Whistler, 1877

Scope and Content

The manuscript volume, a small notebook written in a single hand, is dated October 1877. Itcontains a bill of quantities for the construction of a house in Tite Street, Chelsea, south-westLondon for James Whistler. The volume is divided into the following fifteen sections: preliminaryprovisions, excavator and drains, bricklayer, mason, slater, carpenter, joiner, plasterer, founderand smith, gasfitter, plumber and lineworker, glazier, painter, and addenda. Within each section,the work required to be done by each specialist is outlined including quantities of materialrequired.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward William Godwin was born in Bristol in 1833. He received architectural training and beganhis career designing schools, churches and houses in and near Bristol. His best known works includeThe Guildhall, Northampton and Town Hall, Congleton as well as the restoration of Dromore Castle andCastle Ashby. After moving to London in about 1862, he designed premises for the Fine Art Society inBond Street and a studio for Princess Louise at Kensington Palace. As an architect, Godwin workedchiefly in the Gothic style. As an antiquary, he had a particular interest in costume, furniture andarchitecture. Much of his later career was spent designing theatrical costumes and scenery. He was afrequent contributor to British Architect and published a number of books on architecture,dress and theatre. He died in 1886.

The painter James Whistler (1834-1903) commissioned Godwin to build him a house in Chelsea in1877. Godwin completed the 'White House' in Tite Street in 1878 and Whistler moved there from ahouse in Cheyne Row. Whistler's bankruptcy in 1879 forced the sale of the house along with the restof the painter's effects. The buyer of the house, an art critic, made alterations that Whistler andGodwin deplored. In 1881, Whistler moved into a different house in Tite Street, number 13, where helived until 1885. Whistler and Godwin shared an interest in Chinese and Japanese art andcollaborated in a number of projects involving furniture and interior design, including the designof the White House. Whistler married Godwin's widow, Beatrix, in 1888. The White House wasdemolished in the 1960s.


No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Access Information

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers.


Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in thedescription belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Separated Material

  • Royal Institute of British Architects: British Architectural Library: Papers of Edward Godwin,1845-1883). Reference: GoE
  • Victoria and Albert Museum: Archive of Art and Design: Correspondence, papers, diaries, andledgers of Edward Godwin, c.1855-1886. The Museum's Department of Design, Prints and Drawingscontains drawings and sketchbooks of Godwin. Reference: AAD 4-1980, AAD 4-1988
  • Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire: Architectural papers of Edward Godwin relating to ComptonWynyates, c. 1859-1877.

Conditions Governing Use

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

COPYRIGHT: Permission to make published use of the volume must be sought in advance in writingfrom the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email The Department will tryto assist in identifying copyright owners but this can be difficult and the responsibility forcopyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the person wishing to publish.

Custodial History

The volume was given to The University of Nottingham's Department of Manuscripts in February1962.

Related Material

Geographical Names