John Corfield

Thomas Smith died in Hertford on 1 October 1875 and was buried in All Saints’ churchyard. Thus ended an interesting and successful career. During a working life of over fifty years, both as an architect and a surveyor, Smith’s commissions stretched from Ireland in the west to Germany in the east and down to the south of France and Italy while his most northerly known work was carried out in Yorkshire. Of seven churches he designed six were built and even the seventh, that for St Andrew’s, Hertford in 1862 was initially accepted.

Those who dare to enter into the public domain have to suffer public criticism and rebuke as part of their life. Thomas Smith was no exception to that observation. He had suffered personal comment during the erection of the Militia headquarters in the 1850’s and, upon being elected councillor in 1863, received further criticism, from both the press and the public, over his pronouncement on the water supply to the town.

Smith was essentially a family man who had a life of many achievements. He had exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions in 1852, 1862, 1863 and 1867 both under his own name or as “T. Smith and Son”. He also had the further pleasure of seeing his son, Thomas Tayler Smith exhibiting in 1868 and 1874. In 1877 Thomas Tayler Smith with George Freeth exhibited their prize winning drawing for a church at Wolverhampton.

Thomas Smith seemed to be able to win the confidence of all who met him and most certainly earned a high degree of respect for his accurate estimating. His advice was sound and he acted with complete integrity in all his dealings. He had a keen eye for furthering his architectural practice and was an extremely hard worker. Fortunately, Hertford Hospital, Hitchin Union workhouse, Cowbridge Chapel, Hertford, the Clock Tower at Hoddesdon, Christ Church, Radlett, St Thomas’s, West Hyde, Holy Trinity, Wareside, the Cemetery chapel at Ware and the School at Ayot St Peter, all of which are in Hertfordshire, survive to remind us of the industriousness of a man who made Hertford and Hertfordshire his home for just over 50 years. Yet, despite his successes, both home and abroad, he seems now to be largely forgotten.

This page was added on 17/08/2022.

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