Architect Personal DetailsArchitectural works in South Australia
Firms or Professional PartnershipsBibliographic Sources

Architect Personal Details



First name

Richard Peter








Lambeth was one of South Australia’s pioneer architects who worked both in the civil service and in private practice. He contributed to shaping the city of Adelaide during the early years of the colony.

Richard Peter Lambeth was born in 1807 in Alverstoke, Hampshire, England. In 1837 he emigrated to Tasmania where in 1838 he worked as an art teacher and builder. Later in 1844 he designed the Jewish Synagogue in Launceston (Robbie 2001: 12-4). Lambeth arrived in South Australia in 1846 but left several years later in 1852. He later lived in New South Wales and Victoria where he died in 1877 (Robbie 2001).

Lambeth held many positions during his working life. In 1846 he was appointed Clerk of Public Works in the South Australian Colonial Engineer’s Department. While employed in the civil service, Lambeth advertised his services as a private practising architect - Messrs Lambeth & Stuart. He resigned from the Department in September 1846 only to withdraw his resignation a month later. In 1848 it is thought that he became Assistant Civil Engineer but later resumed the position of Clerk of Works (Page 1986: 30). He held the position Clerk of Works and Architect until he finally left the civil service c.1849-50. He established his own private practice in 1850 working until 1852. After leaving South Australia, Lambeth was employed by the New South Wales Colonial Architect’s Office in 1853 but this was short-lived and he resigned in 1854. It appears that he remained in the state. In 1857 the practice of Hilly, Lambeth and Mansfield advertised in Sydney (Robbie 2001: 29). Lambeth later worked in Victoria c.1859-71.

While in South Australia, Lambeth worked on several high profile buildings. In 1849 he was involved in the extension to the Adelaide Gaol. Lambeth is credited with the design of the Doric inspired former Supreme Court building c.1847-50 and it is likely that he designed the Corinthian style Bank of Australasia c.1850-1. In 1850 the Catholic Church called for designs for a new building, St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, and Lambeth’s design was successful. On 12 April 1851 construction began and the foundations were laid. Unfortunately this was the extent of Lambeth’s contribution. Work was halted and the Cathedral was redesigned (Marsden 1996: 180). Lambeth and William Weir collaborated and entered a competition for a new Legislative Council (South Australian House of Assembly) building. Although their design was well received, in the end it was usurped by William Hays’ design (Page 1986: 42). After Lambeth left Adelaide, he worked on several commercial and residential commissions in Victoria (1859-71) and designed the Swinton residence at Kew (1859) (Robbie 2001: 31-6).

Susan Collins

Citation details
Collins, Susan, ‘Lambeth, Richard Peter', Architecture Museum, University of South Australia, 2008, Architects of South Australia: []




Architectural works in South Australia

Name Suburb Year Designed
Former Supreme Court Building Adelaide 1847
Bank of Australasia Adelaide Branch Adelaide 1850
Extension to Adelaide Gaol

Firms or Professional Partnerships

Name Dates Worked
Messrs Lambeth & Stuart 1846-1846 
Hilly, Lambeth and Mansfield 1857-1857 

Bibliographic Sources


Jensen, Elfrida and Jensen, Rolf (1980) Colonial Architecture in South Australia: a definitive chronicle of development 1836-1890 and the social history of the times, Rigby Publishers Ltd. Adelaide.
Langmead, Donald (1994) Accidental Architect: The Life and Times of George Strickland Kingston, Crossing Press, Sydney.
Lustri, S. (2012) 'Lambeth, Richard' in Goad, P. and Willis, J. (eds) The encyclopaedia of Australian architecture, Cambridge University Press: 398.
Marsden, S., Stark, P. and Sumerling, P, (1990, second imprint 1996) Heritage of the City of Adelaide: An illustrated guide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, Adelaide.
Morgan, EJR and Gilbert, SH (1969) Early Adelaide Architecture, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Page, M (1986) Sculptors in Space: South Australian Architects 1836-1986, RAIA (SA), Adelaide.
Robbie, B. (2001) The Life & Work of Richard Peter Pink Lambeth 1807-1877 Architect, Bill Robbie, Queensland.

Bagot, W.H. “Early Adelaide Architecture – Richard Lambeth”, Quarterly Bulletin South Australian Institute of Architects, (April-June 1954), pp.16-18.

Jolly, Bridget (2000) Preliminary listing for the Database of Australasian Architects and Associated Professionals, unpublished report.
Stenson, L.M.D. (1957) ‘The Life and Work of Richard Lambeth’, SAIT research project.

Research notes on Colonial Architects: Robins, George Fife Angas, George French Angas, Silas Mead, R G Thomas, Richard Lambeth, S219/6/1, LLSAM.

‘Launceston Historical Society Inc, Newsletter No 104, October 2007 - “Richard Lambeth (Mr Lambert): Synagogue architect” by Barbara Valentine’ accessed online 11 August 2008 at

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