Thomas Atkinson’s silver medal

Another surprise from the archives! As Sally Hayles was looking into the background of architect Alfred Bower Clayton, who was in partnership with Thomas Atkinson during the mid-1830s, she came across a reference to a ‘Thomas Atkinson’ who was awarded a ‘large silver medal’ by what was then known as the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce and is today known as the Royal Society of Arts.

Isis medal
A silver Isis Medal similar to the one awarded to Thomas Atkinson

On checking with the RSA it turns out that this was indeed Thomas Witlam Atkinson. He was awarded the society’s prestigious silver Isis Medal in 1827 for “an original composition of architectural ornaments”. The RSA still has his drawing which I reproduce below.

Architectural drawing of ornaments by Thomas Atkinson - 1827
The drawings for which Thomas won a silver medal (courtesy of RSA London)

The award of the medal would have been a great fillip for Thomas, who had only recently set up in practice as an architect in Stamford Street, just across the River Thames from the Society’s headquarters in John Adam Street. The following year he would begin publishing his folio book Gothic Ornaments selected from the Cathedrals and Churches of England, and the medal no doubt increased his prestige.

Interestingly, the design he sent in was very similar to the first plate of his book, which shows a detail from Lichfield Cathedral.

The first page of Gothic Ornament, published in 1828

Did the medal survive? It would have been engraved with a citation and his name. It is not in the possession of the family, so if anyone comes across it, please let me know. And once again, many thanks to Sally for spotting this.

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