Ex Collectione Jacobi Gibbs Architecti    

James Gibbs, born 1674, architect of St Martin's, was a low-profile Roman Catholic, remarkably enough for a London church architect in this era. An even more low-profile Roman Catholic was George Vertue.

Above is Gibbs' Vanderveld, in Kirkall's mezzotint. Gibbs also owned a painting by Monamy, recorded in a sale catalogue after his death in 1754. Monamy would have passed by the church many times, either to visit the St Martin's Lane Academy, or in connection with the pub sign painting of Vernon's ship at 20, St Martin's Lane.

"A new organ was presented to the Church by King George I, at the cost, it is said, of 1,500, when the Church was completed in 1726. ..... The following inscription was conspicuous on a panel in front of this organ: 'The gift of His Most Sacred Majesty King George, 1726.' In the year 1799 this organ was advertised for sale, and the advertisement, which appeared in several journals, stated that the organ might be seen, on application to Mr Thomas Goodall, Bricklayer, Chandos Street; or to Mr Christopher Brown, Pawnbroker, of Long Acre, Churchwardens. In the year 1800 the organ was purchased by the Rev. Dr. Tattersall, Vicar of Wotton-under-Edge, in Gloucestershire, for the sum of 200, and was erected in the church of that parish, where it now stands --- with its original inscription --- 'a perpetual witness to the folly of our predecessors'." From St Martin-in-the-Fields: Past and Present, by Johnston & Waller, 1925.

The exact significance of the unattributed quote slightly escapes me, but presumably it refers to the folly of the organ's sale for a pittance. The Reverend William Dechair Tattersall, a close contemporary of the Reverend Peter Monamy Cornwall at Westminster School, has a disconcerting habit of popping up in unexpected places.


St Martin's Church, July 2003

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© Charles Harrison Wallace 2002, 2004
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