James Jerman, Architect

James Jerman is an old Exeter name and tracking the correct one is somewhat of a challenge, especially as another James Jerman was born in Exeter in the same year.

Kindly supplied by Lisa Trott, descendant of James Jerman.

James Jerman, architect, was born 1849 in Exeter St Davids, the eldest son of a Master Builder also called James Jerman. He qualified first as a surveyor and then as an architect. In April 1875 he was advertising as a surveyor from 7, Maddock’s Row, by June he was at 13 Queen Street; and by Feb 1877 he was qualified and working from 4 New Buildings, Gandy Street.
By 1881 he was in Queen Street and moved round the corner to 33 Paul Street in June 1883 making his final move to 5 Bedford Circus sometime before Sept 1890. Before his death (1925) another architect, TR Radford, was working with him from the same address and carried on the name of ‘Jerman and Radford’ until at least 1931.

James Jerman’s major works

Jerman was the architect of many major buildings in East Devon, but most have been demolished. According to the advertisements for tenders which appeared in the papers he was responsible for the following :-
1875 renewing boilers and making alternations to ‘Exeter Baths and Washhouses’
1877 ‘Four houses and other buildings in Northernhay Street, Exeter.
1877 a ‘Gardener’s dwelling’ at Pynes (This was the house of Sir Stafford Northcote, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer at one time and became Earl of Iddesleigh on his promotion to the House of Lords in 1885)
1878 ‘The erection of three cottages at Stevenstone, Upton Pyne’.
1879 ‘Alterations in the North-east wing at Pynes’ for Sir Stafford Northcote; this was the erection of the water tower which was recorded as giving the house a French Chateau feel.
1881 ‘Erection of two semi-detached houses at Upton Pyne, for the Right Honourable Sir S H Northcote, Bart, GCB, MP &c’
1883 Additions at Staplake Mount, Starcross for Mr Henry Drew JP
1885 Alterations at Barnfield House for the Exeter Literary Society
1885 ‘Altering and enlarging Powhays Mills, Bonhay Road, Exeter
1886 ‘Additions to one the residences’ and a new ‘Chemical Laboratory’ at AllHallows School, Honiton
1888 ‘Erection of a new school premises at Pennsylvania Road’ for the Exeter Episcopal Trust. To be ‘Middle School for Girls’ An 1894 article describing this mentions a side gate to Blackall Road.
1889 the Masonic Hall at Sidmouth (gave his services for free)
1890 ‘repairs and additions’ to St Paul’s Place for the Feoffees
1891 ‘A square of twelve dwelling houses’ in Exeter for the West of England Institute for the Blind
1891 Councillor James Jerman was appointed architect to the Exeter School Board
1891 ‘the erection of a temporary building’ to be used as a ‘Reception Hall on the occasion of the Prime Minister’s visit to Exeter’ in Jan 92
1893 ‘Four additional classrooms and other work at the National Schools Honiton’.
1893 ‘A Gymnasium at the Institute for the Blind, St David’s Hill, Exeter’
1894 ‘Alterations and additions to the St David’s Parochial Schools in Exe Street’.
1894 ‘Additions to the infants School’ for St Sidwell’s Parochial Schools
1894 he submitted amended plans to add a ‘Cookery School’ to the Holloway School at Bull Meadow. No further details known.
1895 tenders were accepted for building ‘new school buildings for boys at Paradise Place, Exeter’. To house 250 boys.
1895 ‘erection of a classroom’, for Thorverton National Schools
1895  Sidmouth Drill Hall (gave his services for free)
1899 alterations at the Episcopal Schools
1899 ‘the rebuilding of a shop and residence at No 29 Paris Street, Exeter for the Feoffees of St Petrock’s Parish Trust’.
1901 ‘Extension of the College Hostel’ Vineyard at the top of Castle Street.
1909 Opening of an enlargement of the school he designed in 1888 at Pennsylvania
1910 Episcopal Schools work again
1912 Further extension of the Episcopal Modern School for Girls at Pennsylvania opened.
1913 New wing opened at the Royal West of England Institute for the Deaf and Dumb.
1914 ‘Building a new Manual Instruction Centre at the Newtown Boys’ School Exeter’.

One of the descendants of James Jerman’s Uncle, George Jerman, has also been doing work on the life of James Jerman; to him I am indebted for the following information and through him I obtained the image supplied by Lisa Trott. The Western Morning news dated Tues 22 June 1897 reports the laying of a Foundation Stone for St Martins Chapel Northdown Thorverton; this confirms James Jerman as the architect for the chapel. The chapel, sometime in the 1940’s, became disused and was sold in round 1956. By 1979 it was in a dilapidated state but since 2004 has been turned into a home.

These are just his larger works, he also produced many small houses and undertook small house extensions and adaptations for ordinary people.

Other facts

He was a prominent citizen of Exeter who was involved in many organisations. He lived in various areas of Exeter during his lifetime but was at Coomroye in Topsham Road at his death in 1925, aged 77 years. He had two children by his second wife, and three grandchildren.

Amongst other positions he held he was :-

Architect and Surveyor to Exeter Freemasons’ Hall Company.
He was a member of St. John The Baptist Lodge No.39 (Exeter) for 53 years, being installed as Worshipful Master in 1879.
He was Devonshire Province Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Work, also Past Provincial Grand Warden: he was acting Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in United Grand Lodge of England, in 1922; and Grand Standard Bearer in Supreme Grand Chapter.

Official architect to Sir Stafford Northcote, later the Earl of Iddesleigh.

A councillor for St. Paul’s ward in 1889 and St. David’s from 1890.

One of two hon. secretaries to Exeter Fine Art Exhibition at The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in 1885 (according to a newspaper advert) and a governor of the museum.

One of the first Presidents of Devon and Exeter Architectural Society in 1894/5 and a council member of RIBA.

Director of the Exeter Coffee Tavern Ltd. and the Provident Building Society.

Sometime Secretary and for many years Treasurer of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural and Archaeological Society (being connected with the society for 50 years).

A founder member of the Exeter University College Field Club and Natural History Society and a keen amateur botanist (being member, judge and sometime Chair of Devon and Exeter Gardeners’ Association).

Following his death, a memorial Credence Table was placed on the South side of the Guild Chapel of Exeter Cathedral.

It is a shame that he seems to have been forgotten by history ( Exeter RAMM has no knowledge of him) and most of his buildings lost. It makes it even more important that his remaining buildings are protected.