Godfrey Sykes research guide

Godfrey Sykes (1824 - 1866) studied at the Government School of Design in Sheffield and came to be much admired for his design work. His early works were paintings of local scenes and of Sheffielders at work but he later switched to metalwork.

By the mid-1850s he was receiving commissions for decorative schemes such as the sixty foot frieze for the Sheffield Mechanics’ Institute and for interiors of houses commissioned by some of Sheffield’s leading citizens.

Sykes taught for a while at the School of Design, but in 1859 his London career began when he started work on designs for the Horticultural Society Garden Buildings in South Kensington. He was appointed chief decorative artist for the new South Kensington Museum, later the V & A, where he popularised the use of terracotta. He was responsible, in particular, for the details of the garden and the arcade.

Prince Albert and Queen Victoria took a keen interest in his designs and sometimes visited him at home.  Among other visitors were Charles Dickens and William Makepiece Thackeray who commissioned him to design the cover for the first edition of the Cornhill Magazine.

After his death a commemorative memorial was erected in Weston Park.  The memorial column includes a portrait medallion of Sykes. The Park entrance gates are to Sykes’ designs.

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