Honeyman, H L

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Honeyman, H L

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Herbert Lewis Honeyman was born at 24 Newton Place, Glasgow on 12 November 1885. He was the fourth and youngest son of John Honeyman and the only child of his third marriage to Sarah Anne Horne. John Honeyman was an architect who founded his own practice before being joined in partnership in 1889 by John Keppie to form Honeyman and Keppie. The new partnership was assisted by four brilliant assistants: Alexander McGibbon; Herbert McNair, a family friend at Skelmorlie whom Honeyman had accepted as an apprentice in 1888; Charles Edward Whitelaw, who had studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts; and Charles Rennie Mackintosh whom Keppie had engaged from John Hutchison's office in 1889. Of these Mackintosh became the lead designer in the practice following his return from the Alexander Thomson Travelling Scholarship in 1892. Herbert Lewis Honeyman was brought up mainly at Bridge of Allan and was initially sent to a private preparatory school there. Thereafter he was a boarder at Glenalmond but spent as much time as possible with father whose eye sight was failing. He assisted his father with his work, describing and researching, particularly with the restoration of churches, and this relationship helped to foster his own interest and expertise in medieval architecture and archaeology. Herbert was unsuccessful in joining his father's practice as an apprentice as he was not accepted by Keppie, his father being on the point of retiral. However, John Honeyman then approached John James Burnet who accepted Herbert as an apprentice in 1902. However, it is noted in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects that 'the rejection by his father's firm was nevertheless a bruising experience'. Hebert Lewis Honeyman studied at The Glasgow School of Art from 1901 until 1912 while working in Burnet's office. He was taught by an old friend and former assistant of his father's, Alexander McGibbon, and by Professor Eugène Bourdon. He distinguished himself there, contributing to 'Vista', the School's magazine, and in time becoming its editor. He won the travelling bursary in 1907 and spent the years 1908 and 1909 in England and France. In 1911 he won the RIBA silver medal with his essay 'The design and construction of belfry stages and spires in stone and brick'. However Keppie remained unwilling to admit him to his father's former practice and in 1909 Herbert opened his own office at 180 West Regent Street. It did not prosper and for a time he became chief assistant to James Shearer, who had set up practice in Dunfermline. He closed his office in December 1913, and joined the firm of Graham & Hill of Newcastle upon Tyne, taking his mother with him after his father died in 1914. In 1916 he was drafted into the Royal Engineers, and sent to the Survey Company at the Ordnance Office at Southampton from which he was transferred to Phoenix Park, Dublin, where he qualified as a topographical and military surveyor. He was sent to France in July 1918 and attached to the Field Survey Battalion's Inundation Section. In November 1919 he was exempted from the qualifying examination in architecture under the War Exemption Scheme and he was admitted ARIBA early the following year. He asked Sir John Burnet to nominate him and as a gesture of reconciliation asked Keppie to second him, which he did. His third proposer was William Henry Wood of Newcastle. Honeyman joined Hill in partnership and after Hill's death he ran an exclusively conservation-based practice specialising in ecclesiastical and domestic work. As surveyor to the Diocese of Newcastle he had some 130 vicarages in his care, designing new ones at Ponteland, Heddon on the Wall, Widdrington, and St Paul's and All Saints' in Newcastle and church halls at Monkseaton. Many of the Diocese's churches were also in his care. In January 1922, Honeyman joined the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries which became the main interest of his life and where he served as secretary for many years. In time he became a member of the Northumberland County History and Ancient Monuments Committees and was one of the organisers of the Roman Wall Campaign of the late 1920s He continued to live and care for his mother who was said to be a difficult and demanding character until her death in 1936. His passion for historic buildings in Northumberland and Durham continued and led him to write his 'History of Northumberland' (1949) which became a best-seller. He married late in life to Edith Sarsfied of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1951 She shared his interests and it was a happy if brief marriage. In 1955 he became a founder member of the Vernacular Group, and in the last months before his death on 22 November 1956 he corrected the text and made many additions to Nikolaus Pevsner's Northumberland volume in 'The Buildings of England' series, his contribution being recorded with grateful sadness in the foreword. H L Honeyman is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour.

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Sources: The Dictionary of Scottish Architects: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk ; The National Archives: discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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