Journal and Account Book of Charles Kirk of Sleaford, builder and architect
Reference Name MISC DON 1015
Charles Kirk's journal not only provides a record of his working life from 1 January 1828 to 29 November 1830, but also gives an insight into his private affairs. Despite the success of his business, it is clear that personal happiness often eluded him and in this respect the winter of 1829 seems to have been a particularly unfortunate period. An unpleasant business dispute with a client was followed, on 1 December, by the death of a female friend, Harriet S. The mysterious Harriet may well have been Kirk's mistress, as he records that he could not have relieved her state of distress "without forfeiting my honour as a husband and father." Evidently laid low by this event, he contracted what he describes as "dysentery" and his condition became so serious that he thought he might die. Fortunately, he had made a full recovery by the middle of January of the following year.
The accounts at the back of the journal provide a record of the many surveying and building projects undertaken by Charles Kirk over the period 1833-1848. He frequently carried out work on many of the bridges in the Sleaford area, made many improvements to Folkingham House of Correction and supervised extensive alterations to Bourne Town Hall in 1845.
A summary of some of the more important entries in the journal is given below:
30 October 1828: "At Sleaford and Lincoln. I was very much pleased with Smirk's [sic] County hall. There is an ancient grandeur about this modern edifice."
11 February 1829: "At Sleaford began to pull down the Court House. Was as full of bustle as a man need to be."
18 April 1829: "At Leicester met wife and bairns, also old friend Dand, got drunk with him at Mr Raggs at night."
1 December 1829: "Harriet S died this day at half past 4PM, a lovelier but more unfortunate woman never existed."
25 December 1829: "Still so ill was obliged to keep my bed. Mrs Kirk sent for Bowman to attend me. My disease - dysentery."
26 December 1829: "Still confined to my bed and the close stool."
31 December 1829: "Thus terminated this eventfull year, the most eventfull of any in my life, a strange mixture of prosperity and adversity.."
8 January 1830: "Worse than ever I was during my illness, appearing to hang lingering on the confines of Eternity."
Extent: 1 volume
Notes: The architect and builder Charles Kirk was born on 10 March 1791 at Wigston Magna, Leicestershire. The Kirk family had long been connected with the building trade and Charles' father, William, was himself a surveyor and monumental mason. Charles Kirk first came to Sleaford in 1829 to undertake the building of the new "Sessions House" or Town Hall and when the work was completed he decided to stay. In the years that followed, Kirk's building business and architectural practice flourished and he was involved in the construction or planning of many of Sleaford's new buildings, including Carre's Hospital (1830), Carre's Grammar School (1834) and the Gasworks (1838). Many of Charles Kirk's later building projects were undertaken with Thomas Parry, who had begun his career as an articled clerk with Kirk's firm. The two men eventually went into partnership and became more closely connected in 1841, when Parry married Charles Kirk's daughter, Henrietta. Following Charles Kirk's death in 1847, the firm was taken over by his son, also called Charles. In partnership with his brother-in-law, the business continued to prosper and Kirk and Parry began to establish a countrywide reputation for their railway buildings and church restorations. Further information on the firm is given in an article "Kirk and Parry" in Lincolnshire Past and Present, Number 24, Summer 1996, a copy of which is enclosed with the journal.
Repository: Lincolnshire Archives