John Gibbs: Stone Mason, Architect & Author

WF_JohnGibbs “This Work must not be considered any part of the one bearing the same title, published by the Author in the year 1864.”


MY Rev. and dear friend: Had I not offered to dedicate this series of designs for Memorials for Churchyards and Cemeteries to you, you might have complained of my want of gratitude, since you have with your own pen so admirably assisted me to make our “churchyards become books of instruction, and every gravestone a leaf of edification.” This has been, and I feel will be, one of your highest aims.

Yours ever faithfully,

JOHN GIBBS. Oxford, 1868.

PDF: JohnGibbs_2013:2015

Paris 1867


DUDLEY. NEW FONT AND FOUNTAIN FOR DUDLEY. – The Art Journal for June, contains in its catalogue of the Paris Exhibition, two engravings from a font, and the reduced model of a fountain, the former to be placed in the church of St. Thomas, Dudley, the latter in the Market-place, both being munificent gifts of the Earl of Dudley, to that town. They are the works of Messrs. Forsyth, the eminent sculptors of London and Worcester. The Art Journal says the works are of the highest order, designed with great ability and executed with consummate skill. [Worcester Journal 15.06.1867 p8]

With Glee…

05.04.1879 WORCESTER GLEE CLUB. The advent of April denotes the end of the season of the glee clubs, and on Tuesday night last was the closing performance at the Crown Hotel, when the members of the above old-established club turned out in such numbers that the large room was crowded, and the side room was also occupied. During the evening Mr. T. M. Hopkins in a few sentences asked those present to drink to “The health of the Mayor,” who was in the room, and Mr. Holland responded. He then asked the company to drink to the health of Mr. Forsyth, sculptor, who had presented the club with a bust of the late Mr. Allen Wheeler, a gentleman who when alive took a great interest in the club. Mr. Forsyth shortly replied. [Worcestershire Chronicle] Allen Wheeler, 1803-1876, of 32 York Place, Tything of Whistones, surgeon and eldest son of the Rev. Allen Wheeler, Minor Canon of the Cathedral 1799-1851 and Precentor 1820-1851.

The Cross, Worcester (1915)


Image: C.42898. Worcester: The Cross. | Celesque Series / Published by The Photochrom Co., Ltd., London & Tunbridge Wells.


CITY POLICE. MONDAY. OBSTRUCTION BY BETTING MEN. … William Forsyth, Tything …summoned for causing an obstruction at the Cross, on Wednesday last. …the cases against Forsyth and Powell were adjourned in order to enable them to call witnesses. [Worcestershire Chronicle]


CITY POLICE. MONDAY. ANNOYANCE BY BETTING MEN. William Forsyth, Tything… Forsyth called two witnesses, one of whom, named Turner, deposing that he was not on the pavement during the time named by the officer. Forsyth was fined 10s. and costs… [Worcestershire Chronicle]

Architectural Museum


FOURTEENTH ANNUAL MEETING, MONDAY, JUNE 6, 1853. … “To turn for a short time to the losses Architecture has sustained during the past year. The hope expressed in our last Annual Report, that Mr. Pugin’s health might be restored to him, have proved vain, and in common with all lovers of medieval art, we have to regret the loss of one who, more than any other man, has contributed to promote sound taste and criticism… It is our duty, further, to thank him (George Gilbert Scott), in conjunction with Mr. Bruce Allen and others, for their endeavours to form an Architectural Museum and a School of Art for workmen. This is perhaps one of the most important undertakings of late years…”

– Oxford Architectural & Historical Society

On the evening of Wednesday week…Mr. George Gilbert Scott, the treasurer and secretary, read a very interesting report, wherein he recorded the origin and progress of the Museum. … Allied to it, and in intimate connection with our Museum, says the Report, is Mr. Bruce Allen’s School for Art for Architectural Workmen.

– The Illustrated London News, 2 July 1853, p533

“…but it originated the architectural museum. I had a call, in consequence of my letter, from a strange person, Mr. Bruce Allen, who told me that he had long had a plan of the same kind in connexion with a school of art for art workman. After my return from Italy he pressed the matter, and invited to a meeting a number of architects, to whom he proposed his scheme, chiefly for the school of art. After several meetings, it was determined to establish an architectural museum, and to allow Mr. Allen to carry on his school of art as a private speculation of his own within the museum, to which he was to be curator.”

– Sir Gilbert Scott: ‘Personal and Professional Recollections’, 1879, pp165-166

“The condition of the poor is, without doubt, unfriendly to mental culture and progress. … [and] exerts a most baneful influence on domestic affections. A family crowded into a single and narrow apartment, which is at once living room, kitchen, bedroom, nursery, and often hospital, must, without great firmness and self-respect, be wanting in neatness, order and comfort. The want of an orderly and comfortable home is among the chief evils of the poor.”

–  C. Bruce Allen: ‘Rudimentary treatise on cottage building, or, Hints for improving the dwellings of the labouring classes’, 4th ed., with an appendix containing designs also for a higher class, Virtue Brothers & Co., 1862, p2


– Office of the Commissioners of Patents for Inventions, The London Gazette 11.12.1863

Eastnor Castle




Image #1: The Great Hall, Eastnor Castle, Ledbury. | Photographed & Published by Tilley & Son. Ledbury. Entirely British Production.

Image #2: Eastnor Castle, Ledbury. Residence of Lady Henry Somerset [sic] | Bow 11.30am Au 23 [08?] | My dear Minnie / I hope you are not dreadfully cross / for my not having written to you before. / Thank you very much for the long / & interesting letter I am very sorry / that I conveyed to you in my last / P.C that I was cross. I was not / in the least so but a trifle worried / & upset. Why do you mention Miss / Westerway in your letter to me? I / am not her satellite. I beg you / to understand, far from it. How / ever did it come about that / [] see has has gone with her to Paris, / it is the first I have heard / about it. I have, of course, heard / from my my daughter, I was not | altogether pleased with her letter. / I have constantly heard from / Dollie & Alice I have also had / letters from Winnie Howlett & Nellie / what a little time we have left / I have hardly begun my work / I do not know I shall / get it done. am glad you are / having a jolly time. / Love from Lucy.

Image #3: The Drawing Room, Eastnor Castle, Ledbury. | Photographed & Published by Tilley & Son. Ledbury. Entirely British Production.


Concert at Eastnor Castle…the beautifully carved capitals in the purest alabaster which are being chiselled in the best taste by Mr. Forsyth, of Worcester, and from designs by the noble Earl himself. We say being done, because the work which is one of great extent, has only just been commenced under the personal direction of the noble Earl. [Hereford Journal]

Imperial Hotel, Great Malvern

Imperial Hotel 1862WF_ImperialHotel2

Image: Post Card. Tilley’s Series. Malvern 9.45am My 11 09 | Dear just a line / to say that I will / come to Wor by / a which leaves / here 11.53 perhaps / you will come to / Foregate St. Station / to meet me / Aunt as not been so well these last / few days. She as a terrible bad / face. / will tell you all / news when I / see you all / with love / to all / from…

THE IMPERIAL HOTEL, MALVERN. The architect is Mr. E. W. Elmslie, a gentleman of high and deserved reputation in his profession. Mr. Thomas Perkins, builder, of Malvern, is the contractor… The whole of the carving in the several principal rooms has been done by Mr. Forsyth, of Worcester, with great taste. [Worcestershire Chronicle]

OUR ENGRAVING. THE IMPERIAL HOTEL, GREAT MALVERN. The magnificent edifice, a view of which forms the subject of the large engraving in our Almanack, is not only a picturesque addition to the charming scenery of Malvern, but a most important addition to the comfort of the traveller and visitor. [Hereford Times]

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon


Image: Painting of Interior / Holy Trinity Church / Stratford-Upon-Avon / Printed and Published by © Chandlers Print 01424 212684.


For Stratford Church there are oak brackets for the organ–case, beautifully carved in foliage, and angels playing on instruments. [Worcester Herald]


SCULPTURE. A series of beautiful bench–ends has just been completed by Mr Forsyth, of the Tything, in this city for Stratford Church, the choir of which edifice is about to be rearranged. The bench–ends are of oak beautifully carved on both sides with the foliage of ivy, oak, vines, marsh–mallows, chrysanthemums, etc, so that every bench varies from the others, and great taste and skill have been shown not only in the carving but in the contrasts produced. The Rev. Mr Moreton, curate of Stratford, and formerly of Wick, near this city, is promoting the improvements in the former church. [Worcester Herald / Worcestershire Chronicle]


In the church of the Holy Trinity, within which sacred enclosure repose the remains of what was mortal of William Shakespeare… …our clever fellow–citizen, Mr. Forsyth, of the Tything, was called in, his contribution being series beautiful wood–carvings, branch of art he has recently been applying himself to with perseverance and success. [Worcestershire Chronicle]


LOCAL NEWS. HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, STRATFORD–UPON–AVON. – The new stalls and seats for the choir, the handsome carved prayer desks and organ case…were designed by Mr. W. J. Hopkins, of this city; the carving being admirably executed by Mr. Forsyth, also of this city. [Worcestershire Chronicle]

St Leonard’s Church and Almshouses at Newland, Great Malvern

WF_Newland_Postcard Image: St Leonard’s Church, Newland, Great Malvern / Architect: P. C. Hardwick, 1864 / The Santuary / Photograph: Matthew Peach / Judges Postcards Ltd., Hastings, England.


LOCAL INTELLIGENCE. NEWLAND CHURCH. The old church at Newland is being pulled down. … On the spot where the altar stood a cross is to be placed, Mr. Forsyth, of Worcester, being entrusted with the order. [Worcestershire Chronicle]


“Memorial Cross in Marble with Carved Lilies / Palm Branch, Crown. Small cross / and Lamb” for Rev. James Skinner.


“Memorial…in / Newland Church Yard” for John Julian Cresset Kent, Gentleman and Farmer at Kempsey.


Unspecified work for Rev. James Skinner.


Unspecified work for Rev. James Skinner.


Unspecified work [Burrow] for Rev. James Skinner.


Unspecified work [Pensioner Williams] for Rev. James Skinner.


Unspecified work [Pensioner Walter] for Rev. James Skinner.


Unspecified work for Rev. James Skinner.


Unspecified work for Rev. James Skinner.


Unspecified work for Rev. James Skinner.


Unspecified work for Rev. James Skinner.


“…executing 2 Green Marble Columns Moulded / Bases White Alabaster Caps carved with leaves / Grapes and Ears of Corn all polished & fixed” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“… executing No. 4 red marble columns No. 4 green / marble bases and No. 4 Alabaster Capitals Carved / No. 4 Green bands and alabaster bands all polished / and fixed complete” and “3 Memorial crosses for Pensioners” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…executing Piscina and Credence Table and / fixing same as per drawings” and “Memorial Brass with Frame Work” and “6 Memorial Stones for Pensioners” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…executing & fixing Marble Step to Alter” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…Pensioners Memorials Lawrence & Charles” and “Mans time cutting letters on Marble Step to Sanctuary” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…Mens time working & fixing Marble Step and Alabaster Panels” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…2 Pensioners Crosses” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…4 Pensioners Crosses [Elizabeth Jones, Sarah Bennett, Richard Barber, Joshua Drew] / …executing Stone Cross [to Thomas Hurd]” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…2 Pensioners Crosses [Elizabeth Yeoman, James Jones]” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…One Pensioners Memorial Cross [Philpotts]” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…One Pensioners Memorial Cross [Hyde]” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…One Pensioners Cross [John Kings]” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…executing Marble Memorial Cross with / sacred Monogram… / as per estimate given / to the Revd G. C. White”, etc., for Charles Walmsley, of Barsham House, Graham Road, Great Malvern.


“…One Pensioners Cross [Bridges]” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…One Pensioners Cross [Adnams]” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…memorial headstone & fixing / same in Newland churchyard” for Catherine Ridd, w/o Thomas Ridd, Coal Agent, of Powick.


“…pensioner Elizabeth Caswell / …executing new Cross” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…Memorial crosses Pensioner / Edwin Smith & Pensioner / Mary Groves / …cleaning pensioner Roger’s / Memorial” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…executing marble steps & / fixing to chancel fixing new tread / to pulpit steps, alabaster cornice to / pulpit & new figure in alabaster / to centre panel also lining sides to / chancel screen with Rouge / Royal” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…executing memorial cross to the / memory of Pensioner [?] / wife & daughter” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…taking up Miss Skinner’s memorial / at Newland & thoroughly cleaning / the same” for Agnes Skinner nee Raymond, of 11 The Passage, Bath, w/o Rev. James Skinner.


“…one Pensioner Stone named Trapp” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…executing memorial cross in Hopton Wood Stone” for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…pensioners stone Morris / …mens time refixing marble / steps and tiles to chancel / …work in preparing and fixing / dormer windows / …executing seats in the best / Riga Oak”, etc., for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…working and polishing alabaster / panel also working and polishing / Italian greotte marble band”, etc. for Rev. George Cosby White.


“…one memorial cross to pensioner Holtam” for Rev. George Cosby White.

Great Malvern Railway Station


Image: GREAT MALVERN RAILWAY STATION is the most ornate small station in Britain and a listed building. Constructed of local stone, the oldest rock in England, it was built in 1863 by the Hereford and Worcester railway to impress the visitor to the Spa town which was famous for the Water Cure. Every platform pillar is decorated differently. Following an arson attack, British Rail has restored the buildings to their former colourful glory / Photographs by John Winsor © 1991 Winsor Fox Photos / Printed by Larkfield Printing Company limited, Brighouse, West Yorkshire.

1873 Littlebury’s Directory & Gazetteer pp 930, 1316, 1323



“Cutting out Patterns for Stencilling for / Holy Trinity Church Shrub Hill / Ditto for Mr Joselands Shop front / Taking up and relaying piping and / repairing drain at Mr Malpas’s Foregate St / Fixing Chimney piece / Memorial Head Stone in Marble with / Stone Plinth / Shelf in freeze Stone” for Frederick Wells, Painter, Builder and Contractor, of 47 Foregate Street.


Unspecified work for Frederick Wells, Painter, Builder and Contractor, of 47 Foregate Street.


Unspecified work for Frederick Wells, Builder and Contractor, of 47 Foregate Street.


RE–OPENING OF THE CATHEDRAL AFTER ITS RESTORATION. The re–opening of the Cathedral… …Decorators: Messrs. Hardman, of Birmingham; and Mr. Wells, of Worcester. Sculptors and carvers: Mr. Forsyth, of Worcester, Mr. Boulton, of Cheltenham; and Messrs. Farmer and Brindley, of Lambeth, London. [Worcestershire Chronicle]


“…Carving executed on new buildings for Mr Stewart / in Pump Street as per estimate supplied to Mr Wells” and “Carving bricks Caps to Shops in High Street and / Pump Street” and “Caps in High Street” and “cutting Compton Buildings” and “cutting name on Mr Shaw’s House” and  “executing 2 Caen Stone Corbel” and “cutting letters on Stone [? Stephen’s Villas]” and “Carving Wood Trusses” for Messrs Dixon Brothers [Hercules Henry Dixon and Thomas John Dixon] Builders and Constructors, of Arboretum.

William Forsyth’s Account Book 1867 – 1895


Image: Account Book of William Forsyth (Stonemason of Worcester), Worcestershire Archives: ref. 989.9:742, BA 8740.

Waterlow & Sons, wholesale and export stationers, account book manufacturers, printers and lithographers, 66 & 67, London Wall; & 49, Parliament Street, Westminster; law stationers & parchment dealers, 24, Birchin Lane, Cornhill.


A selection may be made from a stock of many hundred books, containing nearly every variety of ruling and binding. Special books made to order. The process of binding is superintended with the greatest care, and all the materials most carefully selected, so as to ensure strength and durability.