Decimus Burton was born on 30th September 1800 in the parish of St Pancras, London, and christened in Old Church, St Pancras on 18th July 1802, the tenth son of James Haliburton and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Westley). James Haliburton, later Burton, (1761-1837) was one of the most significant builders of Georgian London, responsible for large areas of Bloomsbury, as well as St. Johns Wood and Clapham Common and, in collaboration with John Nash, the development of Regents Park. In 1828 he started building a new seaside town at St. Leonards near Hastings based closely on his experiences at Regents Park. The first four children were christened Haliburton but from 1794 onwards the remaining six children were all christened as Burton. The fourth child, James Haliburton (1788 - 1862), was to have an eminent career as an Egyptologist. After the birth of their last child, Jesse, in 1804, the family moved to Mabledon, Quarry Hill, Tonbridge and Decimus Burton was educated at Tonbridge School followed by several years in the Royal Academy Schools in Somerset House where Sir John Soane was Professor of Architecture.
Through his father's connections, Decimus gained many early commisions in Regents Park in London (including the family residence at The Holme) before gaining the design for his first major public building at the Colosseum in 1823, followed by the Ionic Screen at Hyde Park Corner in 1825, the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner in 1826, Cornwall Terrace in Regents Park, the Athenaeum Club in Pall Mall and Trinity Church, Tunbridge Wells in 1827, Charing Cross Hospital in 1831, Fleetwood, Lancashire in 1836, and, later in 1846, The Palm House at Kew. In 1850 Decimus began the second phase of building at St Leonards on Sea, originally, commenced by his father
In 1826, the 870 acreage Calverley Estate was acquired by John Ward J.P., M.P. (1776-1855). He commisioned Decimus Burton "to erect a number of edifices suitable to the reception of genteel families, and simultaneously with the larger buildings, a number of shops, etc in their immediate neighbourhood, so that residents upon the estate might enjoy the same advantages as those who lived nearer the Springs." By 1839 all the Calverley Park villas were complete and Decimus Burton had taken possesion of No 4. In that same year the Calverley House (previously Mount Pleasant House) had been extensively refurbished and extended by Decimus Burton. In the years that followed his commisions in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area were extensive and included The Grove at Penshurst, Burrswood at Groombridge, Bentham Hill and St Peters Church at Southborough, Hollands at Langton Green and St Marys Church at Riverhead.
In 1832 Decimus Burton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and he continued in practice until 1869. In his later years, he spent his time as a lifelong batchelor between his properties at Gloucester Gardens, Hyde Park and St Leonards in Sussex. He died on 14th December 1881 in his home in London and is buried at Kensal Green cemetery.
For more information about James and Decimus Burton see the Hastings Museum web site