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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D8760/F/FWP
TitleRecords of William Porden, father-in-law of Sir John Franklin
Extent48 items
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Archive CreatorWilliam Porden (1754-1822)
Gell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Administrative HistoryWilliam Porden (1754-1822) was probably born in December 1754 in Kingston upon Hull: he was baptised there on 29 January 1755. After training as an architect under James Wyatt from 1774 to 1778, and later Samuel Pepys Cockerell. He was briefly secretary to Lord Sheffield and paymaster to 22nd Dragoons but returned to architecture around c.1784, possibly briefly as senior assistant to Wyatt. He was appointed as Lord Grosvenor's surveyor from c.1785, for whom he built Eaton Hall, Cheshire (1804-1812) and in which post he served until 1821. He obtained several commissions for county houses and had a reputation as an architect of Gothic buildings. He was employed by the Prince Regent (later King George IV), for whom he designed the large circular domed stable and riding-school at Brighton, East Sussex (1804-1808) as well as a house in Brighton for Mrs Maria Hitzherbert, whom the Prince had married illegally in 1785.

He married Mary Plowman in 1784. They had several children, but only two of his children survived into adulthood: Sarah Henrietta (1785-1859) who married Porden's assistant Joseph Kay in 1807, and Eleanor Anne (1795-1825), who went on to be the first wife of Arctic explorer John Franklin, who were married in 1823. In London he lived at 59 Berners Street, where he and his daughter Eleanor hosted a literary circle known as the Attic Society, whose members between 1808 nd 1818 contributed hand-written poems and literary pieces to be read aloud at meetings and which were collected together in unpublished compilations known as the Attic Chest (see D8760/F/FEP/5/1-81). He had a strong interest His health deteriorated, supposedly as a consequence of his dismissal as Lord Grosvenor's surveyor following the failure in a scheme to re-build the northern side of Berkeley Square. He died in London on 14 September 1822.

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Related Names
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Porden; William (1754-1822); architect
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