(1676–1739). English master-mason and architect who worked in Oxford. He probably designed, and certainly built, the Fellows' Building and Cloister (1706–12) and the Gentleman Commoners' Building (1737), Corpus Christi College, and was the contractor (1706–14) for Peckwater Quadrangle, Christ Church, erected to Aldrich's designs, the first palace-fronted English Palladian composition of C18. He built (under Dr Clarke's supervision) the front quadrangle, hall, and chapel (1710–21), as well as the entrance-screen with cupola (1733–6), modifying Hawks-moor's designs in the process, at Queen's College. Other buildings erected by him to designs by others include the north-east block of the Garden Quadrangle, New College (1707), Hawksmoor's Clarendon Building (1712–15), the Bristol Buildings, Balliol College (1716–20), Hawksmoor's North Quadrangle, Hall, Buttery, and Codrington Library, All Souls College (1716–35), and (again under Dr Clarke's direction) the Radcliffe Quadrangle, University College (1717–19). He designed and built the Robinson Buildings, Oriel College (1719–20), and arrived at the final design for New Buildings, Magdalen College (built 1733–4). He carried out many works at Blenheim Palace, Oxon., including the Woodstock Gate (1722–3), and the Column of Victory (1727–30), and built Christ Church Library, Oxford, to Dr Clarke's designs (1717–38). In short, he had a hand in the building of almost every important work of architecture erected in Oxford between 1720 and 1740. He was also a sculptor and made several funerary monuments, including that to his father, John Townesend (1648–1728), Mayor of Oxford (1682–3 and 1720–1) also a master-mason, in St Giles's churchyard, Oxford (c. 1728).
From A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in Oxford Reference.