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Architect Personal Details



First name

Walter Hervey








One of the founders of the large international architectural practice of Woods Bagot, Walter Bagot was ‘one of the most scholarly architects to practise in Australia’ (Obituary 1963).

Walter Hervey Bagot was born on 17 March 1880 at North Adelaide to pastoralist and stockbroker John Bagot and Lucy Josephine (nee Ayers), he was their first child, and grandson of Charles Hervey Bagot and Sir Henry Ayers, both pioneer South Australians. Bagot married Josephine Margaret Barritt on 18 November 1908 at St Peter’s Cathedral and they had two daughters and a son. ‘All those who knew Walter Bagot speak of his courtesy, kindness, and consideration towards his friends, and of his character which enabled him to establish good relations with everyone working on a building site’ (Page 1986: 148). He died on 27 July 1963 at North Adelaide aged 83.

As a student Bagot attended St Peters College. In 1899 he was articled to Adelaide architect Edward John Woods for his architectural training. Following this, in 1902, he left for the United Kingdom where he studied architecture at the Kings College, University of London, winning the silver medal of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters (Berry 1979: 133). He served his apprenticeship under A. Blomfield Jackson in London (Jones 2001: 310).

On his return from overseas Bagot rejoined Woods and was offered a partnership in 1905 with the practice being named Woods & Bagot. In 1913, Herbert Harold Jory became a partner and the practice was known as Woods, Bagot & Jory even following Woods’ death in 1916. Louis Laybourne Smith was offered a partnership in 1915 and accepted with the partnership of Woods, Bagot, Jory & Laybourne Smith continuing until 1930 when Jory left to practise on his own. In 1930 James Campbell Irwin was admitted as a partner and the practice was then reconstituted as Woods, Bagot, Laybourne Smith & Irwin. Bagot stopped being an active partner ‘some five or six years before he officially retired’ (Irwin 1980: 34). The practice continues today as one of Australia’s largest architectural firms and is called Woods Bagot continuing the names of its two founding partners.

In 1904, while he was in Europe, Bagot was made an Associate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA); he went on to become a Fellow of the RIBA in 1926. In Australia, Bagot was a member of the South Australian Institute of Architects (SAIA), winning the competition to design its official seal (Freeland 1971: 100). He became a member of the Council of the SAIA in 1912 and was later elected its President, holding office between 1917 and 1919. Bagot was made a Life Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) in 1960.

In 1906 Bagot had helped Louis Laybourne Smith found the Architectural Department at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries (now University of South Australia) and subsequently lectured in architectural history until 1911. Both men have been remembered as having ‘towered above their contemporaries’ (Irwin 1980: 21). Bagot’s expertise was called on in 1924 when he was appointed as a referee for the Adelaide City Council under the Building Act (1923). He served the community by working with many organisations reflecting his passions and interests. His love of gardens can be seen through his role as Governor of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and Commissioner of the National Park at Belair. Additionally, his interest in history was reflected in his position as Vice-Patron of the National Trust of South Australia (Berry 1979: 133) and in his Vice Presidency of the Pioneers’ Association of South Australia. Bagot was a member of the Adelaide Club, being President from 1948 to 1950 and he used his skills in research and writing to pen its history in 1957.

As an international traveller from a young age, Bagot developed a penchant for the architecture and landscapes of the Renaissance and Mediterranean. He first travelled to Italy with his parents during 1891 and 1892 (Jones 2001: 310). His travels had a major influence on his life’s work and he was known as a ‘passionate traveller in Europe and Italy’ (Berry 1979: 133). He founded the Australian-Italian Association for which he received a Knighthood of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 1962. These travels contributed to his academic role, especially the teaching of his specialty, the history and theory of architecture. Passionate about the classical tenets of architecture, he was openly critical of the manifestations of the emerging modernism he had witnessed first-hand in Europe. Despite being made in wartime, his 1914 to 1915 European tour was an enriching experience. He drew on his experiences in Italy in contributions to architecture journals like the Salon (Bagot 1915). But perhaps most significantly his travel experiences informed his architectural design.

Bagot’s ecclesiastical building designs included work for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for which he was architect from 1905 to 1926. He designed St Patrick’s Church on Grote Street, Adelaide, of which the foundation stone was laid in 1912 and which was originally intended to be surmounted by a dome. He perceived a living link between his own practice and historical works. While in Europe in May 1914 he assessed his own St Patrick’s Cathedral against Brunelleschi’s renowned fifteenth century Church of San Lorenzo in Florence. In a letter to Laybourne Smith he wrote: ‘Critically examining San Lorenzo I was pleased to find that the proportions of St P. which is wider in relation to height did not compare badly & the higher clerestory at St P. is I think an advantage’ (Bagot to Laybourne Smith, 25 May 1914). While his words show confidence in the appropriateness of the design of St Patrick’s they also suggest his ability to appreciate the qualities and lessons of historical exemplars (Collins et al 2005). Other ecclesiastical works by the practice include St Theodore’s Church for the Church of England at Toorak Gardens of 1915, the façade and extensions to the nave of St Raphael’s Church, Parkside, commenced in 1916, and works at Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide, in 1917.

Bagot designed an extension for St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in Victoria Square, Adelaide between 1922 and 1926. The cathedral is the work of a number of architects beginning in 1851. Bagot’s contribution is based on the original Gothic style plans drawn up by Augustus Welby Pugin (Marsden et al. 1990: 181). Bagot also designed the highly regarded chapel for the Convent of Mercy, Angas Street, Adelaide in 1920 which incorporated an existing house on the site and unified a complex of buildings. ‘Richly detailed surfaces and finishes render this particular building unique in Adelaide. The chapel is remarkable for its excellence of design and workmanship … The design being perhaps the finest to come from the hand of Walter Hervey Bagot’ (Marsden et al. 1990: 203). He was also the architect for the Church of England’s St Peter’s Cathedral from 1907 to 1945, designing ‘all the very beautiful interior fittings of the choir stalls, the Bishop’s throne, [and] the pulpit’ (Irwin 1980: 13).

Bagot held the position of architect for the University of Adelaide from 1910 to 1945, and has been credited with the design of the Union buildings group, designed in 1927, which included the Union cloisters. His observation of cloisters on his European tour had led him to write: ‘There is nothing so peaceful and satisfying in Architecture as a Cloister or a Quad those at Oxford are in their way as pleasing as the dear Italian cloisters … ’ (Bagot to Laybourne Smith, 11 October 1914). He designed the stone dressed, red brick Barr-Smith Library in Georgian Revival style (1931-2) and followed it with the stone and pre-cast concrete Bonython Hall (1936) which ‘contrary to Bagot’s wishes, resulted in a traditional collegiate Gothic or Tudor style’ (Jones 2001: 316). He also designed the decorative wrought iron Mitchell Gates and fencing on Frome Road (now located on Victoria Drive) (1929-30). His aim was to achieve a ‘congruity’ for the campus (Berry 1979: 133). In 1928 Bagot designed the Hannaford Laboratories at the Waite campus of the University of Adelaide at Urrbrae. He was the college architect for St Mark’s College in North Adelaide and for St Peter’s College, Hackney.

Commercial buildings designed by Bagot demonstrate that even though he was aware of modernism his own designs maintained classical form, ‘he saw “the striving for novelty as one of the great dangers of modernism” and came to hate “the glasshouses of the modern architect”’ (Berry 1979: 133). In 1917, Bagot designed Dalgety’s offices on Leigh Street, Adelaide, in red brick. This was followed by the classically styled Executor Trustee and Agency Building, Grenfell Street, Adelaide (1922), for which Bagot was joint architect with Laybourne Smith and C.E.W. Parsons, and which featured paired Roman columns dominating the façade of the six-storied office building. Bagot was stock brokers Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort’s architect and the head office of Elder Smith and Co. Ltd. on Currie Street, Adelaide, (started in 1937) is ‘reminiscent of a Renaissance palazzo’ (Marsden et al. 1990: 79) and displays fine detailing of a high order, it has been described by Sir James Irwin as ‘a very good example of studious building’ (Irwin 1980: 33).

Bagot and Laybourne Smith both contributed to the design of the State War Memorial on North Terrace, Adelaide in the 1930s, although his original designs had to be redrawn from memory by Laybourne Smith when the originals were destroyed by fire whilst Bagot was overseas (Page 1986: 148). Bagot is also credited with designing the Botanic Garden Tea Pavilion (1906) and the Polar Bear House at Adelaide Zoo (Beck n.d.: 26). Sir James Irwin remembered, ‘Mr Bagot used to spend hours poring over the draftsmen’ (Irwin 1980: 16), ensuring the designs, which were the partners' responsibility were correctly drawn up.
Bagot’s work was invariably informed by his scholarly understanding of architectural history. He wrote a chapter in ‘Domestic Architecture in Australia’ (Bagot 1919) in which he praised the ‘cultivation of the antique’ as an example of good taste. Bagot’s residential designs exemplify his beliefs. Broadlees (1925-6), the residence designed for the Misses Waite at Stirling, in the Adelaide Hills, is Georgian style as requested by the clients, with Italian Renaissance influences as preferred by Bagot (Beck n.d.: 24).

Bagot’s own residence, Nurney House, Kingston Terrace, North Adelaide was one of North Adelaide’s earliest large houses. When Bagot acquired it for himself he transformed it into an ‘Italian villa’ and garden in 1930-31. In his own residence, as in the Adelaide University buildings, one can see Bagot’s belief that Mediterranean design was an appropriate response to the South Australian climate and environment. The Bagot family’s country house, Forest Lodge near Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills was designed by Ernest Bayer in 1892, with Walter Bagot responsible for the garden renovation of the 1930s which made it one of the Adelaide Hills’ significant gardens (Jones 2006: 10).

Bagot was profoundly influenced by his overseas travels and his love and knowledge of architectural history. He was described as a ‘master of architectural detail, both classic and medieval’ (Obituary 1963). This was enlivened by a deep passion for his work which can be seen in an article on art criticism in which Bagot wrote, ‘Let the writer, the musician, the painter, the sculptor and the architect strive manfully under the names of their callings – they are not artists until they achieve their art, and art is not achieved even by technical skill, by experience and observation, without the inspiration of true enthusiasm, in fact of emotion’ (Bagot 1915: 68).

Julie Collins

Citation details
Collins, Julie, ‘Bagot, Walter Hervey’, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia, 2008, Architects of South Australia: []


Heritage SA



Architectural works in South Australia

Name Suburb Year Designed
St Patrick's Church Adelaide 1912
St Raphael's Church extensions Parkside 1916
St Francis Xavier's Cathedral extensions Adelaide 1922
Convent of Mercy Adelaide 1920
Bonython Hall, University of Adelaide Adelaide 1936
Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide Adelaide 1931
Union Buildings, University of Adelaide Adelaide 1927
Mitchell gates and Victoria Drive fencing, University of Adelaide Adelaide 1929
Waite Building, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus Urrbrae 1927
Hannaford Laboratories, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus Urrbrae 1928
Elder Smith and Co. Ltd. Adelaide 1937
Executor Trustee and Agency Building Adelaide 1922
State War Memorial Adelaide 1927
Nurney House alterations North Adelaide 1930

Firms or Professional Partnerships

Name Dates Worked
Woods & Bagot 1905-1913 
Woods, Bagot & Jory 1913-1915 
Woods, Bagot, Jory & Laybourne Smith 1915-1930 
Woods, Bagot, Laybourne-Smith & Irwin 1930-1974 

Bibliographic Sources


(1936) ‘Who’s Who’ South Australian Centenary 1936, Amalgamated Publishing Co., Adelaide: 277.
(1986) Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885, South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society.
Adelaide Club (1957) Foundation Members of the Adelaide Club, 1863-1864, Adelaide.
Bagot, J.M. (1946) Reveries in Retrospect, Hassell Press, Adelaide.
Bagot, W.H. (1919) ‘A plea for tradition’ in Ure Smith, S., Stevens, B. and Hardy Wilson, W., Domestic Architecture in Australia, Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Bagot, W.H. (1935) Architecture and Growth of St Peter’s Cathedral, Lewis, Adelaide.
Berry, Dean W. (1979) ‘Bagot, Walter Hervey (1880 – 1963)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, Melbourne University Press: 133.
Freeland, J.M. (1971) The Making of a Profession, Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Freestone, Robert (2007) Designing Australia’s Cities: Culture, commerce and the city beautiful 1900-1930, UNSW Press, Sydney.
Irwin, J. (1977) The Irwin Family: junior South Australia branch, Rigby, Sydney.
Jones, D. (2002) ‘Pre-Adelaide regionalism heritage: regionalist Adelaide design, traditionalism and Walter Hervey Bagot’ in D. Jones (ed) 20th Century Heritage Our Recent Cultural Legacy. Proceedings of the Australia ICOMOS National Conference 2001, 28 November-1 December 2001, Adelaide, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, The University of Adelaide & Australia ICOMOS Secretariat, Burwood: 310-319.
Jones, D. (2001) ‘Walter Hervey Bagot (1880-1963) Architect’ in J. Healey (ed) S.A.’s Greats: the Men and Women of the North Terrace Plaques, Historical Society of South Australia, Adelaide: 4.
Jones, D. (2012) 'Bagot, Walter' in Goad, P. and Willis, J. (eds) The encyclopaedia of Australian architecture, Cambridge University Press: 60.
Marsden, S., Stark, P. and Sumerling, P. (1990) Heritage of the City of Adelaide: An illustrated guide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, Adelaide.
Morgan, E.J.R. and Gilbert, S.H. (1969) Early Adelaide Architecture, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Page, M. (1986) Sculptors in Space: South Australian Architects 1836-1986, RAIA (SA), Adelaide.
Walkley, G. (1976) The Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Building, South Australian Institute of Technology, Adelaide.

(1914) ‘South Australian Notes’, Salon, August 1914: 31.
(1963) ‘Obituary’, Architecture in Australia, December 1963.
(1963) ‘Obituary’, South Australian Chapter Bulletin, Royal Australian Institute of Architects, September 1963: 14.
Bagot, W. (1915a) ‘Notes on Criticism’, Salon, October 1915: 66-71.
Bagot, W. (1915b) ‘The British School at Rome’, Salon, April 1915: 106-107.
Bagot, W. (1913a) ‘Impressions in Italy’, Salon, November 1913: 277-279.
Bagot, W. (1913b) ‘Impressions in Italy’, Salon, October 1913: 206-209.
Bagot, W. (1913c) ‘Impressions in Italy’, Salon, September 1913: 140-142.
Bagot, W. (1913d) ‘Sculptor Architects of the Renaissance’, Salon, August 1913: 68-72.
Bagot, W. (1953-58) ‘Early Adelaide Architecture’, series of articles, SAIA Bulletin.
Brine, J. (1990) ‘Hassell’s Birthday’, Architect SA, No. 2: 34-36.
Collins, J., Ibels, A.M. and Garnaut, C. (2005) ‘Years of significance: South Australian architecture and the Great War’, Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, 33: 25-39.
Jones, D. (2006) ‘Conifer charisma’, Australian Garden History, vol.18, no.1, July August 2006: 8-13.
Laybourne Smith, L. (ed), (1914) ‘St. Patrick’s Church, Adelaide’, Salon, April 1914: 555.
'Past Presidents, SA Chapter: Walter Bagot', PLACE, July 2011: 11.

‘Architectural Award of Merit’, Advertiser, 23 March 1945: 10.
‘Half century of SA Architecture’, Advertiser, 15 January 1955.
‘Well known architect dies’, Advertiser, 30 July 1963: 3.
Cockburn, S. (1960) ‘He has grown old gracefully’, Advertiser, 9 July 1960: 2.

Bagot, W. H. (1958) Some nineteenth century Adelaide architects, Pioneers’ Association of South Australia (Series), no. 33/58.

Beck, E. (no date) Adelaide Architecture 1903-1927, unpublished thesis, Johnson collection S223/4/51, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia (AM).

Jolly, Bridget (2000) Preliminary listing for the Database of Australasian Architects and Associated Professionals, unpublished report, AM.

Bagot to Laybourne Smith, correspondence, 1914-1915 (various dates), Laybourne Smith collection S204/1/14, AM.
Woods Bagot Architects, BRG 18, 1882-1975 letter books, account books, partnership records, photographs, brochures, plans and drawings, and list of works executed, State Library of South Australia.
Irwin, James (1980) Oral History Interviews and Transcripts. Gasper, J (1981) An Oral History of the Building Industry in South Australia: Adelaide 1900 – 1980. Held at State Records of South Australia, GRG 138/4/00000 Boxes 1-3.

Australian Heritage Places Inventory, online at
Division of Finance and Infrastructure, University of Adelaide (2004) Heritage Listed Buildings Inventory, online at

Willis, Julie (1998) South Australian Architects Biography Project CD Rom, University of South Australia, AM.

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