Early life and career
Blomfield was born at Bow rectory in Devon, where his father, the Rev. George John Blomfield (d. 1900) was rector. His mother, Isabella, was a first cousin of his father and the second daughter of the Rt. Rev. Charles James Blomfield, Bishop of London. He was brought up in Kent, where his father became rector of Dartford in 1857 and then of Aldington in 1868. He was educated at Highgate School in North London, whose Grade 2 listed War Memorial he later designed, and then Haileybury school in Hertfordshire, and at Exeter College, Oxford, where he took a first-class degree in classics. At Oxford, he attended John Ruskin's lectures, but found "the atmosphere of rapt adoration with which Ruskin and all he said was received by the young ladies... was altogether too much for me". Although he had a clear learning towards the polite arts, his family did not have the means to sustain him as a gentleman artist, and Blomfield at this date had no clear career. After Oxford, he spent a year travelling on the continent as a tutor before accepting an offer from his maternal uncle, Sir Arthur Blomfield, to become an articled pupil in his London practice in the autumn of 1881. He also enrolled in the Royal Academy Schools, where Richard Phené Spiers was Master of the Architectural School. He found the atmosphere in his uncle's office uncongenial and the practice's traditional Gothic Revival output hard and soulless, although he gained valuable mechanical skills at draughtsmanship and site experience. He prospered more at the Academy Schools, taking the junior prize in 1882 and the senior prize the following year, with a design for a town house in the fashionable Queen Anne Revival style, of which he was later ashamed. During his years in his uncle's office, the practice produced two uncharacteristic schemes (for work at Marlborough College and Shrewsbury School) that appear to foreshadow Blomfield's enthusiasm for classicism, and in the design of which he was presumably involved. He was an occasional cricketer and played in matches with J. M. Barrie's Allahakbarries XI.