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REVELEY, Henry Willey

Born: 1789
Died: 1875 01 27


Was the son of Henry Willey Reveley, an English architect and an enthusiast of Greek architecture. He was born in London. He accompanied his mother, Maria Gisbourne, to Italy when on her re-marriage she went to live in Pisa. Reveley commenced his studies as an engineer in Italy.

He then returned to London where he continued his engineering studies under John Rennie the elder (1761-1821). He worked in London before being appointed the first Colonial Civil Engineer at the Cape, where he arrived in January 1826. The official title of the post was Government Civil Engineer and Superintendent of Works & Buildings and his duties commenced on 1 January 1827. One of his principal tasks was to improve Table Bay Harbour as well as other ports and harbours and, in addition, he was to plan and to put into execution any new public buildings under Government Authority which might be deemed necessary and to attend to the repairs of existing buildings. His best-known building is St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Somerset Rd, Cape Town (1827-9), which he designed soon after his arrival at the Cape. Reveley employed the austere Doric style in this classical building. The church remains among the few really competent early nineteenth century neo-classical buildings in South Africa.

Reveley remained in South Africa until 1829, having been dismissed as incompetent by the Governor. His services were formally dispensed with in May 1828. In 1829 he applied for the position of clerk of works on the building of St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, and was appointed to this post; he left South Africa, however, for Perth in Western Australia between May and September 1829. His career in Perth, where he was appointed Colonial Civil Engineer, and where he worked as an architect and a town planner, was distinguished but, dissatisfied with his prospects there, he returned to England in 1838/9. He died in Reading.

(A&B Jun 1918:392; CAD GH/1/62/900; Colvin 1954, 1978; DSAB II:12; Greig 1971:92; Fransen 1982:46; Immelman & Quinn 1968, note by Dr FWF Purcell:26-7; Jnl of Royal Western Australian History Society, article by JG White; Lewcock 1963; Macmillan 1982; Rennie 1978:12; Rennie 1983:169; SALQB Mar 1958; SESA 9:282, 309)

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church: 1827-1829. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect

Books citing REVELEY

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pp 52

HSRC. 1987. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume V. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pp 636-637

Lewcock, Ronald. 1963. Early Nineteenth Century Architecture in South Africa : a study of the interaction of two cultures, 1795-1837. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 260n, 266-267, 286, 354, 444

S2A3 (Plug, C - Project Leader and main compiler). 2002-. S2A3 biographical database of southern African science. Webspace: WWW. pp Accessed 12 January 2016

Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pp 12-13