David Henry Burles

Southend Artist

David Henry Burles in 1940 age 74
Echo newspaper
St Mary's Church, South Benfleet, sketched by David Henry Burles in the 1930s
Echo newspaper

David Henry Burles was a soldier, architect and gifted artist.  He lived much of his life in Southend where he built a number of memorable buildings.

It was while serving as a soldier during the First World War that Burles found the inspiration that led him to compile his portfolio of beautiful artworks of Southend’s churches.

As a soldier with the Middlesex Regiment, Burles served in France and Flanders from March 1917 to March 1919. He carried a small sketch book with him everywhere he went.

It was while working on his sketches in France that he resolved that when he returned home, he would make a pictorial record of the churches of what he called “my homeland” – the Rochford Hundred.

Mr. Burles went on to become a successful architect and his company ‘Burles, Harris and Collings’ were the architects responsible for many leading buildings in the town.  Amongst others he designed the former R A Jones, jewellers in High Street, Southend, which was destroyed in a bombing raid in October 1942.

Ironically, Mr. Burles was killed, at the age of 76, in this same attack.


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  • Re Shopland query above, see 1933 painting by David Henry Burles on artUk.org

    By Leslie Alexander (13/11/2022)
  • There is a fine pen and watercolour drawing of St Mary Magdalen, Shopland, which I copied some years ago to my desktop file to use as a screensaver. Unfortunately, the name of the artist is indecipherable; but I have tentatively dated it to circa 1900. When I was a boy in the 1950s, prompted by the opening scene of David Lean’s version of the film ‘Great Expectations’, I was intrigued by the building and churchyard; indeed it was that fascination and puzzlement that prompted my lifelong interest in history.
    A link to the images is:

    By James Toone (28/10/2020)
  • I’ve just acquired a piece of his work.

    By Simon Rodrigues (01/12/2019)
  • Did David Henry Burles ever make a sketch or painting of St. Mary’s Church, Shopland which was demolished in the fifties?

    By Margaret Summerfield (18/04/2019)

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