Beverley Ussher

Beverley Ussher (born Melbourne 1868; died Melbourne, 9 June 1908) was articled to Melbourne architect Alfred Dunn. Dunn was English and had worked for architect Alexander Lauder in Barnstaple, Devon, where he worked with Arts and Crafts movement theorist and practitioner W.R. Lethaby. Through Dunn's English connections, when Ussher completed his architecture articles in Melbourne, he visited England and was introduced to architect Walter Butler. Later Ussher and Butler formed a partnership in Melbourne.[1]

Ussher's first architectural partner, Walter Richmond Butler (1864-1949), was an English architect who worked in London as chief assistant to ecclesiastical architect J. D. Sedding.[2] Butler was accepted into the Arts and Crafts and Domestic Revival circles centred on William Morris and Richard Norman Shaw, among whom his closest friend was Ernest Gimson (1864-1919).

In June 1888 Butler left Sedding's office and sailed for Australia, perhaps at the prompting of young architect Beverley Ussher then visiting London. Three of Butler's brothers and one of his sisters also settled in Australia. From 1889 until 1893 Butler was in partnership with Ussher. In 1896 they were joined by George C. Inskip but they parted in 1905 after a dispute with the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects over the conduct of a competition.

Beverley Ussher and Henry (Hardie) Kemp (born Broughton, Lancashire, UK, 10 March 1859; died Melbourne, 22 April 1946) then formed a partnership in Melbourne in 1899, which lasted until Ussher's death (1908). This "brilliant partnership" pioneered the Australian Federation style of domestic architecture. Both Ussher and Kemp had strong Arts and Crafts commitments, and both had been in partnerships before forming their own.[3]

The practice specialized in domestic work and their houses epitomize the Marseilles-tiled Queen Anne (or Federation style) houses characteristic of Melbourne, and considered now to be a truly distinctive Australian genre. At the time of their creation they were a break with the use of cement render, applied stucco ornament, cast iron, slates, and double hung windows. Their designs use red bricks, terracotta tiles and casement windows, avoid applied ornamentation and develop substantial timber details. The picturesque character of the houses results from a conscious attempt to express externally with gables, dormers, bays, roof axes, and chimneys, the functional variety of rooms within.

The iconic Federation style houses by Beverley Ussher and Henry Kemp did not appear until 1892-4. Then, several of those appeared in Boroondara.[4] Dalswraith for William Gibson, 99 Studley Park Road, Kew (1906) and a house for A. Norman, 7 Adeney Avenue, Kew (1908) are superb examples of his designs.[5]

"George Tibbets has discussed this firm at great length in his article "The so-called Melbourne Domestic Queen Anne".[6] It was undoubtably one of the most accomplished and prolific of the Melbourne practices of the early twentieth century. It drew on a distinguished line of work by the individual partners from the nineteenth century."[7]

The Buildings of Beverley Ussher (before the partnership)

Butler and Ussher worked together on a series of designs between 1890 and 1893, many of which are still considered to be outstanding examples of the Picturesque Aesthetic.

The three storey red brick structure with attic is styled in a mode eclectically derived from Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, Elizabethan Revival and Queen Anne Revival architecture.

The construction is of tuck-pointed face red brick decorated with rendered cement dressings and a terra cotta tile roof. The Picturesque roof line with steep gable ends and tall clustered chimneys, the oriel windows and central round arch Romanesque entry with foliated decoration together produces a bold facade to Collins Street.

The design reflects Ussher's preoccupation with the Picturesque domestic revival in Victoria and has links with the so-called Queen Anne Revival style in England.[9]

Architect Beverley Ussher designed the house 'Milliara' (John Whiting house) in Wallace Avenue Toorak, in about 1895. It seemed very anglophile in that it had a drawing room ceiling which exactly reproduced of the dining hall ceiling at Bolsover Castle, which Ussher had himself measured and drawn. However the architraves of the arches were decorated with local flora, and the panelling used Australian timbers.

Two years later the emphasis on local timber was even greater in Ussher's house for J C Foden in Canterbury: "The whole of the woodwork of the drawing room, dining room, hall, stairs and landing, including the sliding doors, was carried out in Australian and New Zealand woods, such as silky oak, blackwood, fiddleback and kauri, and then French polished."[10]

The Houses of Ussher and Kemp

"The pre-eminent Melbourne firm of Ussher and Kemp was responsible for nearly every impressive Federation-era style house in Kew and Mont Albert of the period."[8] "Ussher's work falls into two categories,

1. the Gabled design, usually a two storey form and the hipped design where gables, on two co-ordinate points, project from an overall hip, usually a single storey form. In general, Ussher's largest houses (such as Dalwraith in Kew of 1906), adopt the gabled designs. These houses fall into the mansion category.

2. The Single Storey designs, which usually apply to large houses rather than mansions, which have developed into the distinctive Australian style, Queen Anne style and which were the most popular in the first decade of the twentieth century e.g. Hedges' residence, 1897, in Canterbury and Clarke's residence in Toorak of 1897.

Ussher joined with Kemp and developed the style with the characteristic features of tiled hipped roofs, timber verandah decorations, and a strongly three-dimensional form with a corner emphasis.

Architecturally significant for: its adaptation of Queen Anne style to a tight site; the complexity of its elevation and planning; the use of the unusual splayed corner on a Queen Anne style design; and for the outstanding fence, rare on Queen Anne-style houses throughout Metropolitan Melbourne.

"A magnificent landmark residence" Built Circa 1909 for Herbert Parsons a spice trader and set on a magnificent allotment (2,089sqm) with superbly landscaped and maintained gardens, this landmark residence showcases the elegance and graciousness of classic Ussher & Kemp architecture, whilst providing unparalleled family living and entertaining areas both inside and outside.

Architects Ussher & Kemp acted for Mellor when the house was connected to the MMBW sewer, in 1907, and it appears that they were also the designers. At Coorinyah, the broad hipped roof is the dominant backdrop for a number of gabled roof forms, chimneys and the unusual shingle-spired look-out, with its attached chimney. Below the eaves line giant arched timber supports spring between gabled verandah or room bays, almost removing the visual support for the large roof expanses above it.[12]

Beverly Ussher’s seminal Cottage by the Sea orphanage at Queenscliff (now demolished), set out the mature Federation villa form: see The Building and Engineering Journal, 8, 184, 9 January 1892, p. 14,[13]

A perfect example of a gracious residence standing on a cul-de-sac corner showcasing lavish architectural allure.


Dalvui at 4310 Mackinnons Bridge Road. Noorat 3265 is a widely admired property, with its famed gardens and grand home.[14]


Eildon, now known as the Napier Club, was built as a two storey, red brick residence and surgery for Dr David Laidlaw in 1904 to a design by architects Ussher and Kemp in the Federation Queen Anne style.[15]

Wee Nestie is placed askew on its owner site, it is aligned, unlike its neighbours, neither perpendicularly nor diagonally to the street. A large indented gateway was at a comer splay in the allotment and an asphalt tennis court on the west of the house. Architects, Ussher & Kemp, designed this nine room Queen Anne styled house for importer, William Halsey in 1900. G. Garrett was the builder. Later owners included J.R Wood and P.R Kershaw; the latter converting, Wee Nestie to Karinyah private hospital in 1959.[17]

Architecturally significant at the State level as one of Ussher and Kemps' best and most sophisticated designs, integrating unusual brick detailing and an atypical symmetrical arrangement. The architects Ussher and Kemp designed the imposing Edwardian villa at 98 Riversdale Road in 1899 for George and Mary Ann Thyssen.

169 Canterbury Road is one of the more prominent designs by the renowned residential partnership of Ussher and Kemp at a time when the practice was at its peak. It compares directly - and favorably - with other leading designs of theirs, particularly among their two-storey houses, and is a direct predecessor to Kemp’s renowned Dalswraith in Kew.

external image 114%2520Bellair%2520St%2520Kensington%252C%2520VIC.jpg Architecturally, a near original prominent and early example of a common suburban style, designed by the Queen Anne Villa specialists Ussher and Kemp: of metropolitan importance. Historically, for a long period one of the few sources of medical attention in the local community: of local importance.

Built between 1901-10 to the designs of architects Ussher and Kemp, the Norman House is a fine example of the hip roofed genre of the so-called Melbourne Queen Anne style house and one of the most representative works emanating from Melbourne's most renowned firm of residential architects at the time of Federation.

Architecturally, a near original prominent and early example of a common suburban style, designed by the Queen Anne Villa specialists Ussher and Kemp: of metropolitan importance. Historically, for a long period one of the few sources of medical attention in the local community: of local importance.[20]

An essentially intact well-designed and detailed example of the Federation style, Marlborough House was constructed in local materials. It exhibits the regional motif of tuck-pointed red brick quoins to a limestone building. Important architectural features such as the timber verandah with original posts, balustrade fretwork, brackets and floor, twin gable ends with infill strapwork, limestone brackets and intact joinery remain. It is of interest that the symmetry of the composition relied on the construction of the ballroom wing. This implies an optimism regarding the success of the project when it first started.[21]

Amongst the best examples of Queen Anne style villas in Hawthorn, substantially intact and illustrating particularly well, the strong garden orientation of the style. Illustrative of the high quality for houses constructed on Hawthorn's major boulevards.[22]

A typical example of the smaller scale bungalow adaptation of the Queen Anne style which became synonymous with the garden suburb ideal in the Edwardian period. A smaller work by Ussher and Kemp but illustrating the transfer of stone arcading to timber verandah form, which was influential in the popular market.

"Grand in stature and glorious in detail, standing amidst elevated grounds (21,500 sqft) in prestigious Studley Park, 'Seward House' c1899 is one of celebrated architects' Ussher & Kemp's first commissions that set a magnificent precedent for a distinguished partnership. A rare offering on an expansive 1,998sqm allotment.[23]

This magnificent Federation Queen Anne residence is Ussher & Kemp at their glorious best masterfully merging with stunning contemporary enhancement.[24]


Plea:"These pictures are indicative, please help to upload pictures of the houses listed above."

See also


  1. Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture: p.726 'Ussher and Kemp'
  2. Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture: p.128 'Walter Butler'
  4. 3 Intro - Camberwell - City of Boroondara
  6. 'The so-called 'Melbourne domestic Queen Anne', by George Tibbits in Historic Environment, Vol.2, no. 2, 1982
  7. City of Malvern Heritage Study, Appendix One, architects of Malvern
  10. page 5.08.6
  13. The Building and Engineering Journal, 8.184, 9 January 1892,p. 14 (Ussher’s Cottage by the Sea).
  17. Camberwell Conservation Study 1991 p 40
  18. Camberwell Conservation Study 1991 p 40
  19. Camberwell Conservation Study 1991 p 40

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.