Saturday 29 September - Symposium: The Architecture of James Gibbs


Saturday, 29 September 2018 at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BE

Following successful conferences sponsored by the Group in previous years on John Nash and the Adam Brothers, the Georgian Group is organising a day-long symposium on the work of James Gibbs (1682-1754). Born in Scotland and trained in Rome, Gibbs was one of the most important British architects of the eighteenth century, responsible for such well-known buildings such as the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, and for many other commissions, both public and private, throughout the British Isles. He also published one of the most influential of all eighteenth-century architectural pattern books, as a result of which his influence spread throughout the worldwide British diaspora. Drawing upon recent research, the symposium will reassess, and throw new light upon, his achievement and its significance for the understanding of Georgian architecture.

The symposium will be held from 10 am to 5.15 pm, and will be led by Dr Geoffrey Tyack, editor of the Georgian Group Journal. Speakers will include leading authorities on eighteenth-century British architecture and decorative art - among them Andrew Martindale, Peter Guillery, Richard Hewlings, Charles Hind, Hugh Petter and Alec Cobbe - and younger scholars. There will be papers on Gibbs’s Scottish background and his training in Rome; his work in London; his university buildings in Oxford and Cambridge; his country houses in both Britain and Ireland; his contribution to interior design, with special reference to plasterwork; his transatlantic influence; his portrait busts; and his relevance to the classical architecture of our own day.

Following the symposium there will be a reception at the church of St Peter, Vere Street (just north of Oxford Street), built to Gibbs’s designs in 1721-4, with superb plasterwork by the Swiss-Italian plasterers Artari and Bagutti.

Student tickets: A number of tickets at reduced rates are available for students registered on a degree-level course (both full-time and part-time). 

This event is open to members and non-members.

The Georgian Group is grateful to Haddonstone for their sponsorship of this Symposium. 


9.30 am - Arrival and registration

10 am - Opening address


Andrew Martindale: ‘Mr Gibbs, the Scottish architect’

William Aslet: Gibbs, Knowledge and the Fashioning of a Professional Reputation in London

Alex Echlin: James Gibbs and the historiography of early eighteenth-century English architecture



Peter Guillery: James Gibbs and the Cavendish-Harley estate in Marylebone

Geoffrey Tyack: Gibbs in Cambridge and Oxford

Ann-Marie Akehurst: Inferior to none: James Gibbs, the Royal Naval Hospital at Stonehouse and l’affaire de l’Hotel-Dieu


Richard Hewlings: Gibbs’s scale bars

Christine Casey: Ornament and the architect: James Gibbs and plasterwork decoration



Ricky Pound: James Gibbs and the Octagon Room at James Johnston’s Villa at Twickenham

Pete Smith : Gibbs at Kiveton Park, Yorkshire

Alec Cobbe: The Path of a James Gibbs Discovery: Newbridge House, Ireland



Michael Bevington: James Gibbs and his garden buildings at Stowe: inventor and mentor

Charles Hind: Transatlantic influence: A Book of Architecture and the American colonies

Dana Josephson: Portrait busts of Gibbs: new discoveries

Hugh Petter: James Gibbs and the enduring legacy of popular classical architecture

Final questions and summing up

5.45-7 pm – Reception at St Peter, Vere Street