Things living, and creeping!


Image: Imperial Hotel (now Malvern St James Girls’ School), 2012

This was to be the sign – “But she, the goddess herself, gave to them to prevail over the dwellers upon earth, with best-laboring hands in every art. And by their paths there were the likenesses of living and of creeping things; and the glory was deep. For to the cunning workman, greater knowledge comes, undeceitful.”

An infinitely pregnant passage, this, of which to-day you are to note mainly these three things: First, that Athena is the goddess of Doing, not at all of sentimental inaction. She is begotten, as it were, of the woodman’s ax; her purpose is never in a word only, but in a word and a blow. She guides the hands that labor best, in every art.

The victory given by Wisdom, the worker, to the hands that labor best, is that the streets and ways, κελευθοι, shall be filled by likenesses of living and creeping things.

Things living, and creeping!

By this forming of Images there is to be gained a ‘deep’ – that is to say, a weighty, and prevailing, glory; not a floating nor fugitive one. For to the cunning workman, greater knowledge comes, ‘undeceitful.’

– John Ruskin: ‘Aratra Pentelici, Seven Lectures on the Elements of Sculpture – Given before the University of Oxford in Michaelmas Term’, 1870

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]

Sir Tatton Syke’s Monument, Driffield


Tatton Sykes

Image #1: Sir Tatton Syke’s Monument, Driffield | Valentine’s Series 33779 | Driffield 6pm Au 4 07 | Arrived safely /  weather fine & / having a good time / E.G.S.

Image #2: The Illustrated London News, 1866


MEMORIAL OF THE LATE SIR TATTON SYKES. Preparations are being made to have the first stone of this memorial set during the present month. … The chief stage is devoted to sculpture, in which will be represented characteristically the late baronet. Coats of arms, various devices, and sundry pieces of foliage in caps, cornices… [Maidstone Telegraph]. LOCAL INTELLIGENCE. MEMORIAL TO THE LATE SIR TATTON SYKES. – On Wednesday afternoon Lord Hotham laid the foundation stone to the memorial to the late Sir Tatton Sykes… Mr. John Gibbs, of Oxford, was selected from a hundred and fifty competitors as the architect. The sculptured figures have been entrusted to Mr. Forsyth, of this city. [Worcestershire Chronicle]


Gibbs’ design for a ‘lofty square tower, or observatory, in the pure Gothic style’ with ‘sculptured figures … modelled by Mr. Forsyth, the celebrated sculptor, of Worcester’ was selected from amongst the 157 entries… Lord Hotham laid the foundation stone on the 17th May 1865. Unfortunately, the sculptor was unforgivably slow. Of the four panels originally commissioned, only two were completed for the inaugural ceremony in November 1866.

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