A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

Gilbert Blount – A Miscellany

Gilbert Robert Blount (1819-1876), Architect



Gilbert Blount Miniature 2


See also the more recent blog:


For permission to reproduce these family photographs and other images please contact or use the comments section below.


Gilbert Blount – Victorian Architect

by Philippa Hunter (Great Grand-daughter)

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Gilbert Robert Blount

Gilbert Robert Blount was born at Mapledurham, near Reading, on 2 March 1819, the second child and son of Michael Joseph Blount and his wife Catherine (nee Wright). His parents were half first cousins. Michael was the second son of Joseph Blount and Mary Canning, and Catherine the daughter of Catherine Petre and her first husband Francis Wright. Her second husband was Michael Blount III of Mapledurham and brother to Joseph. These were all recusant Catholic families.

Mary Canning, the daughter of Francis Canning of Foxcote in Warwickshire (born 27 October 1755), married Joseph Blount (born 15 July 1752) in the chapel of Foxcote House, on 19 February 1776. It appears that they rented Britwell House near Watlington, Oxon for a time, as two of their five children were born there. They moved to France in the 1780’s and Joseph died at St Cyr, near Lyons, on 1 January 1793. He is buried there at the foot of the altar. Mary Blount returned to England with her children and she died at Cheltenham on 29 December 1843. Her burial actually took place at St Benet’s, Kemerton and she was the first person to be interred there as the church and cemetery were only blessed on 18 July 1843. Michael Joseph (Gilbert’s father) was born at Britwell House on 30 March 1783 and he married Catherine Mary Wright of Kelverdon, Essex. The Wrights were bankers and the majority of clergy and Catholic laity banked with them. The bank collapsed during the depression of the 1820’s-1850’s. Michael and Catherine were married at the Spanish Embassy in London, one of the few places in London where Catholic marriages could be celebrated at this time. In order to have the marriage legalised, another ceremony had to take place in an ‘Established Church’. This legal formality took place at the old St Mary-le-Bone Church on 26 February 1816.

Gilbert Blount was educated at Downside in Somerset, from September 1834 until December 1836, and he began his professional training as a civil engineer with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, working on the construction of the Thames Tunnel (Rotherhythe to Wapping). He was the Superintendent of Construction in 1841 and, during one of the many floods, narrowly escaped drowning. He then decided that civil engineering was not for him and so, in 1842, he became an apprentice to Mr. Anthony Salvin, an architect, whose office at the time was situated at 32 Somerset Street, London. Gilbert’s aunt, Elizabeth Riddell, was instrumental in obtaining this position as Mr Salvin’s half-sister (Mrs Anne de Lisle), was a friend of hers.i]

Whilst working for Mr Salvin, Gilbert helped produce plans for Trinity College, Cambridge, Shottesbrooke Church, Berkshire and Buckland House and Church near Faringdon, Oxfordshire. By 1847 he was working on house alterations for various well known Catholic families but, by 1850, he had set up his own office in the Adephi, London. He concentrated on designing churches, monastic buildings and liturgical furnishings. His patrons included the Cardinals Wiseman and Manning, the Duke of Norfolk, the Fitzherberts, the Cannings of Hartpury, Gloucestershire, Bishop Ullathorne and the Dominican Sisters. His principal works include Spitalfield Monastery and the Church of St Anne, London;  Our Lady & St Catherine, Bow, London; Our Lady of The Assumption, Swynnnerton in Staffordshire; St Peter’s, Gloucester; St Peter’s, Bromsgrove; St Ambrose’s, Kidderminster; Carisbrook Priory, on the Isle of Wight; Westbury Convent, Bristol and the Catholic schools in Swindon.

Gilbert married Sophia Margaret Brown (born 8 October 1844), daughter of Samuel James Brown and Jacobina Sophia Radcliffe of Lofftuss Hill, Yorkshire, on 11 January 1870 at St Mary’s Chapel, Knaresbrorough. They had four daughters, Emma, Marjorie, Louisa and Gilberta, who was born after her father’s death. They lived at 1 Montague Place, London.

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Sophia Margaret Blount with (left to right) Emma, Louisa and Marjorie (1876)

Gilbert Blount died in 1876. No obituary seems to have appeared and when Charles Barry, the President of the R.I.B.A., gave his annual address in 1877, he had great difficulty in finding any information about him, even though Gilbert had been a member of the Institute for 20 years. However he was described in the address as,

“a disciple of Pugin, he was a capable architect responsible for a small body of interesting but unadventurous works, variable in quality. Whilst he was not in the first flight as a designer, his work often had character – a personal flavour – due to his choice of parts and, at times, the wayward handling of their details…… He was a gentleman of very courteous manners and much respected among friends who deplore his death.”[ii]

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Gilbert Robert Blount

Gilbert Blount died on 13 November 1876, ‘at 9.20pm, very calmly and beautifully.’[iii] His funeral took place on 18 November at St James’ Church in Reading. He was buried in the churchyard, beside the south wall of the church, in the family vault alongside his parents and sister. Since the alterations to this church in 1962, the Blount vault is now under the side aisle and is, unfortunately, not marked, but a plaque is now been placed on the nearest wall. His wife and three unmarried daughters, Marjorie, Louisa and Gilberta are all buried there with him. Emma, his eldest daughter, married William May, a solicitor, and they are both buried at St Edward’s, Sutton Park, Guildford.

[i] Letters to Gilbert Blount from Elizabeth Riddell (author’s collection) and  Jill Allibone, ‘Anthony Salvin – Pioneer of Gothic Revival Architecture’

[ii] Charles Barry, R.I.B.A. address, November 1877

[iii] Gilbert Blount’s diary 1876 – continued by his wife. (author’s collection)

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Notes on Gilbert Blount’s Patrons and Clients by Philippa Hunter

When looking for a builder or an architect, often the prospective client would go on personal recommendation or possibly a family connection, and the Victorians were no different to us today. Catholics were not allowed to enter certain professions until after the mid 19th century and even then work was not plentiful, so architects in particular tended to work for fellow Catholics. Gilbert Blount was no exception, except that he had some wealthy connections. These included Cardinals Wiseman and Manning, the Canning and Wright families, and then the convert and other families associated with the Catholic revival.

There were two main branches of the Wright family starting with John Wright(4th) 1580-1654. He married twice. His first wife was Anne Sulliard, who died in childbirth in 1617, having had 6 children, including John (5th). His descendants were to remain at Kelvedon Hall, Essex for another 400 years. Joane(?) was the second wife of John the Fourth and had 3 children, the youngest being Henry. His son, William was a goldsmith of Great Russell Street, London in 1699. This was a type of banking. This thriving trade continued until about 1760 when his grandson, Anthony Wright widened the range of business to include elementary banking operations (similar to what we have today) and he was described as a banker at  “Ye Golden Cup, Common Garden, London”.  The firm later moved to Henrietta Street. The goldsmith side of the bank fell away leaving Wright & co as a private bank of increasing repute and growing business, until it collapsed on 17th December 1840.

Anthony’s grandson – another Anthony, married Anne Biddulph of Biddulph, Staffordshire and Bruton Park, Sussex, and he was Gilbert’s maternal grandfather. One can only assume that considerable wealth came from the Biddulph estates, which were entailed and safe from the creditors, because Anthony and Anne’s grandchildren were to become some of Gilbert’s best patrons.

The first patron was Edward Blount – the eighth baronet of Mawley, Shropshire, whose mother-in-law was Gilbert’s aunt Frances (nee Wright). He almost certainly paid a considerable sum towards the building of St Ambrose, Kidderminster which was £2,400. A window was erected in 1859 at  St Gregory’s, Cheltenham in memory of Frances and her husband Edward Blount who was M.P. for Steyning. It depicts St Edward the Confessor and St Frances of Rome with etchings of Westminster Abbey and St Peters, Rome. Was it designed by Blount? Why was it erected in Cheltenham? There are two possibilities. First their youngest son Henry Joseph was a Benedictine monk and priest at the time in Cheltenham. Secondly Gilbert Blount’s grandmother – Mary Blount (nee Canning), lived at 3 Somerset Place with her daughter Frances and grand daughter Frances until her death in 1845. Both No 1 and 3 Somerset Place were demolished when the present St Gregory’s Church and Priory were built. May be the window commemorates Mary as well – who knows?

The second patron was Anthony John Wright-Biddulph who lived at Bruton Park, Sussex. He was a bachelor, and asked Blount to design a church. It was built on the edge of the estate at Duncton as a gift to the local community in 1867-1869. It cost £3,000.  Archbishop Manning consecrated and opened it in August 1869, and many feel it should be looked upon as a memorial to Messrs. Wright & Co of Covent Garden. The church is dedicated to Saint Anthony and Saint George; presumably after the benefactors, Anthony Wright-Biddulph and his steward George Morley.

Anthony’s sister, Geraldine, married Godfrey Radcliffe in 1860 – he was later to become Gilbert’s uncle-in-law on his marriage to Margaret Brown in 1870. The Radcliffe’s lived at Dan-y-Craig, Monmouthshire and Blount designed a small chapel next to the house, that served the surrounding area. Sadly today it is a complete ruin, covered in ivy. The main door/porch is just visible, likewise a side door opening off the narrow road leading to Bont and Upper Green. During the severe winter of 1947, most of the wood was stripped from the building – beams, pews, rails, altar etc, to be used as firewood. The chapel was dedicated to The Immaculate Conception. There is a small cemetery a quarter of a mile down the lane were members of the family and a few locals are buried. In the spring it has a beautiful carpet of primroses, but later in the year bracken takes over and the tombstones are completely hidden.

St Filumena’s Church, Caverswall, Staffordshire could also have been the result of a family connection. Caverswall Castle came into the Radcliffe family in 1860 and Sir Joseph Percival Radcliffe lived at Rudding Park, nr Harrogate, Yorkshire, but spent a great deal of time at Caverswall. He was the brother of Godfrey Radcliffe (see above). The church was built on land between the castle and the main street of the village. Work started and the church was opened in January 1864 by Bishop Ullathorne. Sir Joseph paid the bill for the entire building which came to £1,700.

Robert Canning – Gilbert Blount’s first cousin once removed, lived at Hartpury, near Gloucester, and from 1794-1839 he gave shelter to a community of expatriate Dominican nuns from Brussels. (His great, great aunt – Dorothy Canning, was the prioress at “Spillikins” 1703-06). They ran a small school at Hartpury Court (Spillikins), until 1832. Gilbert stayed with his cousins as a small boy, because when he was asked by the Dominican nuns in 1862 to design Carisbrooke Priory on the Isle of Wight, one of the elderly sisters remembered him from his childhood Hartpury visits. One can only guess it was because of these visits, that he was to become one of the Dominican favoured architects. His work for them was to include St Dominic’s Convent, Stone – the Chapter Room, Guest House and girls’ boarding school. Work at the church of the Immaculate Conception (next door) included the stone sanctuary and nuns’ choir of 1862. At Stoke -on-Trent he designed the northern wing of the convent in 1864.

Further work was also carried out at St Dominic’s Priory and Church at Haverstock Hill in Camden Town, London between 1863 and 1867 and then again in 1874. This was to be a huge project centred around three acres of land. The church was to hold 5,000 people and the cost £50,000. The foundation stone was laid in 1863, but only the foundations were completed and a temporary church was opened in 1867. Work did not re-commence until 1874 and had not progressed very far before Blount died in 1876. The present church was actually designed by Charles Buckler.

St Dominic’s Priory, Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight, (1865-66), was built of local grey stone and funded by Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Clare. The cost was £12,000. Some of these nuns had been at Hartpury, moved to Athelstone, Warwickshire, then at Hurst Green, Lancashire, and finally at Carisbrooke.

Robert Canning had two daughters – Maria and Frances.  Frances was the major benefactor of a new church at Gloucester and she asked Gilbert to design it. She laid the foundation stone in 1859 – Blount attended having spent the previous night with Frances at Longford – now part of Gloucester. This church was opened March 22nd 1860. While building was in progress, Gilbert often stayed at Hartpury with Maria and her family. He thought nothing of walking the six or so miles into the city to oversee the work. In 1864 he designed schools in the city and work resumed on the church  with extensions to the nave and aisles. The baptistry and tower were also added but the spire was not completed until after Gilbert’s death.

The Riddells in Northumberland, more cousins of Gilbert, had a church built at Felton. Their relatives, the Gerards of Ashton-le-Willows, had various projects that required his architectural skills too.

Gilbert won the competition for a Roman Catholic Cathedral at Westminster but this was not actually executed because of the need for Catholic poor schools. However, both Cardinals Wiseman and Manning gave Blount lots of work, especially in London, including alterations at the Archbishop’s House at Leyton; the House of Mercy Convent and Chapel in Blandford Square; St Elizabeth’s Hospital – the original one, not the one used today; Brentwood church – now the Cathedral with newer additions of 1860; Clapham Convent, Chapel and School; Brooke Green Schools; Hammersmith Convent and Church; Our Lady of the Rosary church, Marylebone – demolished in 1960 due to dry rot; St Catherine of Siena, Bow 1668-70; Lunatic Asylum in Hertfordshire and Cinderford Cottages, Hurst Green, Sussex. Cardinal Wiseman appears to have a farm/property here.’

Other Catholic families also commissioned Gilbert for house alterations and additions. Cottages were built for the Duke of Norfolk in Sussex and there were also numerous minor works for people in London.

Gilbert Blount actually trained with Salvin rather than Smirke

Many biographical dictionaries, including Wikipedia, state that Gilbert Blount trained in the office of Sidney Smirke. In fact, Blount worked with Anthony Salvin (1799-1881).

Constance C. McPhee, in her thesis for the Department of the History of Art in the University of Pennsylvania, entitled ‘Gilbert R. Blount (1819-1876) Catholic Gothic Revival Architect’ clearly outlines the architect’s early career. McPhee’s M.A. thesis, written in 1987, under the supervision of Dr David B. Brownlee, includes the following passage,

‘Early in 1842 Blount experienced a professional upheaval which was to divert him from engineering into architecture. Faced with the imminent loss of his position at the tunnel, he attempted to secure a position with the Le Havre and Rouen Railway Company through a relative in France and even considered emigrating to Australia. It was, however, a developing interest in architecture which became the channel for his energies and hopes. The architect’s diary from the first six months of 1842 records him reading a biography of Christopher Wren and books on Greek architecture and Palladio. At the same time he was writing: “an article on architecture”, designing: the plan and model of a house, and carrying out field works: a visit to Pugin’s St. George’s, Southwark, which was then building. On November 28, 1842 these preparations culminated in the beginning of a new career. Blount entered the Saville Row office of Anthony Salvin (1799-1881).

Salvin was a student of John Paterson of Edinburgh and a member of the Society of Antiquities with a successful practice in country houses and Gothic revival churches…. Blount’s diaries indicate he came to Salvin without adherence to any one stylistic philosophy and was quickly exposed to the most advanced thought on Gothic revival church design. Already interested in Pugin as the most prominent Catholic architect of the day, Blount now absorbed his theory, reading his writings for the first time. He also set to work on a proposed monument to the recently deceased Bishop of York. Modelled in part on Edward III’s tomb in Westminster Abbey.’

McPhee points out that as late as 1847 Blount was still working in Salvin’s office but he became ‘increasingly involved with small independent projects for relatives and Catholic friends.’ However, having written of his move to 1 Montagu Place in 1849, Mc Phee makes the following remark: ‘Sometime during this period there may have been a brief association with Sydney Smirke’ In support of this she cites Blount’s R.I.B.A. obituary but she comments, in Footnote No. 58, that this ‘is substantiated by no further evidence (see Barry, “Address”, Proceedings of the R.I.B.A. (1877-78):11′

Philippa Hunter has made available some of her Blount Family correspondence for the year 1842 and this may help to clarify the question – Smirke or Salvin?


Elizabeth Riddell nee Blount

Letter from Eliza(beth) Riddell to Gilbert Robert Blount from Field-gate House, Kenilworth, Aug 24th 1842

‘My Dear Gilbert,

Not knowing for sure whether your Father is at home or that you may not be at Purley (1), I will address this to you, but wish you to communicate the contents to your Father and Mother. I hope, I need not assure you, that it has been my most earnest endeavour and wish to hear of some situation for you and particularly so, since I heard your Father say, your wish was to study architecture. I applied a few days ago to Mrs. De Lisle (Mr. Salvin’s sister) a great friend of mine and have received an answer from her today, which I consider very good. I enclose you a copy of my note to Mrs De Lisle which I hope you will be able to make out, also her answer to me – at your leisure (?) when you have made what use you please of them, I shall like to have them returned to me, and I think it will be a good plan to write a line to Anthony Salvin Esq at his Office to inform him what morning you can call upon him, as he will then make a point of being there. He stands very high in his Profession, I remember some years ago seeing his plan for the new house of Parliament and after Barry’s, it was the most approved of. Mrs Canning from Devonshire tells us, they have lately been to Mamhead (2), where a new house has been built by Mr Salvin (for Sir R. Newman) they think it is the most perfect place and house they ever saw. I cannot tell you, my dear Gilbert, the pleasure it will give me, if you can arrange matters with Mr Salvin. I have not the slightest idea on what terms he will be willing to receive you, that will depend upon what your knowledge is, as to architecture, be sure to take some of your drawings, and be not discouraged at first, if he does not seem to think your knowledge so great as he may expect it to be, as you have not had time or experience. Be sure to let me know the result of your interview with Mr. Salvin, and if he is willing to receive you, whether he will remunerate you, or you on the contrary have to give him a premium, but all this remains to be seen, and of course that subject you will have Mr. S. to broach. I will write a line to your dear Mother – wishing you a happy termination to this business I remain, Dear Gilbert. Your affectionate Aunt, El. Riddell

Best love and good wishes from my dear Mother, Sister, Elizabeth.

(1) Purley is situated on the River Thames opposite to Mapledurham and it was the home of Gilbert’s parents.

(2) In 1823, Mamhead Park was bought by Robert William Newman (1776–1848), who completely rebuilt the house on a new site in 1827–1833, to the designs of Anthony Salvin.

Letter from Eliza(beth) Riddell to her brother, Michael Joseph Blount, father of Gilbert Robert Blount, from 53 Wellington Street and dated 2nd October 1842:

‘I cannot tell you, my dear Michael, how pleased I am at your account of your interview with Mr. Salvin, I do think it promises well. I hope you will have several drawings to show him next time you go to town, it will indeed be a great gratification if I have been the means of promising him what I trust may turn out a desirable situation. In the mean time a little country air, good living, and cheerful society with a little shooting will do him good for he has had long confinement in town and hard work….’

Letter from Michael Joseph Blount to his son, Gilbert Robert Blount, from Purley, dated 13th October 1842:

‘Dear Gilbert

I had an interview yesterday morning with Mr Salvin who received me with cordiality, examined your drawings and agreed to receive you in his office. I had a clear understanding with him that you were to be initiated into every department of the profession. My impression is that you will like him and I think he is favourably inclined towards you. Let us hope that it will prove an advantageous opening for you. Mr. Salvin appears to be a good natured gentlemanly person. He will let us know when he has moved into his new house, which I do not expect will be the case for three weeks to come, therefore make the most of your time… Pray remember me very kindly to all friends at Hartpury and I hope you have some good shooting. Adieu M.J.B.’

Letter to Michael Joseph Blount from Anthony Salvin, from 32 Somerset Street and dated 21st October 1842:

‘Dear Sir,

I have sent the drawings to Lower Berkeley Street, The first work to study is certainly Vitruvius and if your son has not yet looked into (?)  it my copy is at his service. There are others on church and domestic architecture which I shall recommend his attention to afterwards. The work in Saville row gets on slowly but I hope in two or three weeks I shall be able to move my offices there. I am dear Sir, Yours truly, Anthony Salvin.’

Forwarding notes from Michael Blount to Gilbert Blount:

‘I expect that Sir Edward Blount has got a Vitruvius or some other works on architecture.’

Dear Gilbert,

I send you Mr. Salvin’s note in order that you may not think it necessary to hurry back to Town, for I don’t expect he will remove to his new office in Saville Row, at soonest, before the middle of Novr. We hope you will enjoy yourself at Mawby…’

Letter to Gilbert Blount from Eliza Riddell, his aunt, from 53 Wellington Street, Leamington, and dated 2nd December 1842:

My dear Gilbert,

I was very glad to find by a letter from your Father, that you had entered into Mr. Salvin’s employ, also that you and Alfred have most comfortably lodged in Mr. R. Walmesley’s house, I trust you will go on most satisfactorily with Mr. S. and that you will like your occupation. Your hours of attendance are very reasonable, from 9 till 5 so you will have plenty of time to yourself. I enclose you half a £10 note which I shall be glad to hear you have received, the other half will follow in a day or two. I send £10 this quarter, as you may want a few extras, the next quarter I will send £5 which will make the £25 I told you, I would give you the first year you are with Mr. Salvin. May every blessing attend you, for your own sake and that of your anxious Father and Mother…’


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St Peter’s Gloucester by Gilbert Robert Blount 1819-1876


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St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Gloucester – extracts from the diaries of the architect, Gilbert Robert Blount in the possession of Philippa Hunter (Great Grand-daughter)                                

March 11, 1858 –   Gilbert heard from Maria Gordon Canning (his cousin), obviously sounding him out as to whether he would consider designing a church for Gloucester. The next day “the Bishop of Clifton (Dr Clifford) called to say he wishes me to build a church at Gloucester. Frances Canning called about the same- wrote to Maria”.

April 10 1858 – The designs were sent to Frances Canning and Dr Clifford.

July 15 1858 – he leaves “London by the 6.10am train and went to Kidderminster -to see how the church there was progressing; and went to Hartpury arriving at 9pm.” The next day “ Mr Calderbank wrote”. Gilbert “took dimensions of the Gloster ground” the following day before returning to London. The following two months were spent on the specifications and tenders sent out.

November 5 1858 – “Mr Calderbank called and talked over the plan s- he now seems doubtful about the light on the railway side.”   December 6 1958 – Wingate & Son had won the tender. .

March 16 1859 – The contract was signed.

May 25 1859 – “Went to Gloucester by 9.30am train and took up my quarters at Longford. Bishop of Clifton did the same and Mr Calderbank dined there.” The first stone was laid the following day (May 26). The accounts at the back of the 1859 diary show that on March 22 the train fare to Gloucester was £1, lunch 1/-, but by December 6 the train fare had risen to £1-5/-,Gloster to Cheltenham 7/3 and the hotel in Cheltenham 9/3. There was a change of plan in June as Mr Calderbank wanted to change the arch mouldings from plaster to stone. During November “the pavement drawings” were sent to Wingate and the gas specifications to Mr Calderbank and the altar design took up a great deal of time.

February 22 1860 – Mr Farmer called to settle the price for carving the altar and pisina. Hardmans were asked to quote for “the safe”.

March 22 1860 – The church was officially opened when the bishop gave Gilbert £120 -for William Farmer-,to cover the cost of the altar. At this stage the cost of the church amounted to £2500. 1865 – more time on designs, but it is not clear what. Minton tiles were ordered for the floors in 1866and 1867  saw the resumption of work again extending the nave, aisles, creating an organ gallery, the baptistery, a vesting room, the pulpit and spire. Reynolds is the clerk of the works and is paid £2-15/- per week. Usually Gilbert stayed at Hartpury when he visited the church and this often combined with shooting.

January 1, 1869 “after attending Mass at Gloster go shooting -pheas 4, hare 1, rab 50.” By now the church and schools were complete -that is, as far as Gilbert Blount was concerned, and a further £5000 had been spent.


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Gilbert Blount c

Gilbert Robert Blount

Correspondence regarding Blount’s Work

In the possession of Philippa Hunter (Great Grand-daughter)

(i) The Priory, Little Malvern, Oct. 15. 1912 to Mrs Blount

Dear Madam,

Mr. Wm Berington encourages me to write to you and to ask you, if you can without inconvenience, give me some information, which I have been long seeking for.

I began some years ago to draw up a list of the works executed by Catholic architects during the past century, and was particularly anxious to make your husbands’ list as full as possible, as however, I believe, an aluminus of Downside, my own college.

I have a catalogue of some of the churches, convents, etc which he designed – but, I dare say you could easily give me a fuller one than I could compile.  If so, I shall be very grateful.  Someday soon I hope I may be able to work it into a short article for the Downside Review of which I am editor – and when I come to that, I should dearly like to have a portrait of so distinguished a man.  Perhaps you could give me, or lend me, a photograph of Mr. Gilbert Blount, for reproduction; with a few dates for the contemplated memoir.

 With every apology for thus troubling you,

I am yours very sincerely

 Gilbert Dolan OSB


(ii) From MEADOW GRANGE, Near CANTERBURY, 26th October 1912

(A.E. Purdie was Blount’s assistant and he continued the uncompleted works after Blount’s death. He later became an architect in his own right.)

Dear Madam,

We had at the office Montagu Place, a fairly, full list of most of the work designed and carried out by the late Mr. Gilbert Blount, this list I made out many years ago and fastened with paste on the inside of the cupboard doors of recess (?) where most of the drawings and tracings were kept, so now I am quite at a loss to remember a twentieth part of them.

An interesting work or article might however be written giving a brief account of his useful life, serving his time after leading a collegiate education, with the eminent Engineer Brunel and then following by preference the study of Architecture in which he was most successful, ‘a thing of beauty is a joy for ever;’ and this was his principal aim in life, and is expressed to a marked degree in all his buildings, for the greatest and most minute care was lavished on them.  His architectural studies through Britain, France and Italy etc., were greatly appreciated by a mind so fertile, so persevering, so painstaking and richly rewarded in the number of Churches, Convents, Schools, Mansions, Restorations, Monuments, Altars and other work requiring skilful and educated treatment, with his vast knowledge, he was consulted frequently by Prelates, Priests and Laity and often called on by architects of high standing to arbitrate on complicated matters of dispute and misunderstanding.

Tall of stature handsome in build and appearance, of a gentle and modest nature, few can surpass him, always ready to do a good and help in works of charity, a devout son of Holy Church.  He passed to his reward on … and is buried in the beautiful churchyard at Reading.

Here follows a list of some of his works:

Churches –


St Thomas’s Fulham

St Helen’s Brentwood

Church & Schools Holy Rosary Marylebone

Felton Church.

Garswood Newton-le-Willows

St Mary Magdalene Brighton

St John’s Brighton restoration and additional chancel

Church of the Holy Family, Bedford

Church and additions to Mansion, Swynnerton Park

Church, House and Presbytery Burton Park, Sussex

Church etc at Wednesbury

Lanark Church & Convent

Restoration Chapel at Richmond

Church, Hendon

(Church) at Bosworth Hall

St Mary’s Mortlake

Church at Caverswall

St Dominic’s Priory, Haverstock Hill

Glasgow Friary

Training College, Hammersmith

Convent of Mercy Blandford Square

Convent of Dominican Nuns and Chapel, Isle of Wight

Sisters of Nazareth, Hammersmith

Schools at Spitalfields

School Chapel, Dorking

Do (School Chapel ?) at Wolverton

Convent of Notre Dame, Clapham

Notre Dame, Southwark

Visitation Convent at Westbury

College buildings and additions for the Jesuit Fathers, Beaumont, old Windsor also the expensive deep foundations for the Church of St Ignatius.

and many others too numerous to mention.

Probably you may remember more than I have described, if so kindly append them.

I trust you and your family are keeping in the best of health and hurrying to catch post, with kindest regards,

I remain dear Madam

Yours very sincerely,

A.E. Purdie


(iii) Letter from A.E. Purdie to Mrs. Blount 30th October 1912

Meadow Grange, near Canterbury.

Dear Madam,

I return your list with a few corrections added thereon.

Those shown by X I am uncertain about since they might be additions only.

I dare say you will be able to assist the Revd Father a good deal.

With Kindest Regards

I remain dear Madam

Yours very sincerely

A.E. Purdie


(iv) Some of the works of Mr. Gilbert Robert Blount

Undated List probably by Margaret Blount, widow

Ashton-le-Willows Church and Schools (Sir M. Gerard afterwards Lord Gerard)

Arundel Cottages (for Duke of Norfolk)

Archbishop’s House Westminster (formerly the Guards Institute structural alterations were made to suit the requirements of the late Cardinal Manning)

x Aldworth Church

Blandford Square complete Convent and Chapel

x Barfriston Church

Burton Park Church and house Mr. Bullocks (editor – should be Wilcocks) house

Bromsgrove Church

Brentwood St. Helen’s Church

Bow Church of Our Lady

Brighton Church St. Mary Magdalen

Brighton Church St. John the Baptist an old Church to which was added Chancel and chapels and other extensions – a mural monument to the memory of the late Mrs. Fitzherbert is fixed on the epistle of the nave.

Bosworth Hall Church of Our Lady for St. Francis Turville

Bedford Church of the Holy Family (for the late Canon Warmoll)

Old Beaumont College, Church and additions

Clapham Notre Dame Convent, Schools and Chapel

Carisbrook Priory complete Convent and Chapel

Crewe Church

Castle Rising Church

x Colney Hatch Asylum

x Chelsea Almshouses

x Cinderford Cottages

Caverswall Castle Church and additions for the late Sir Percival Radcliffe Bart

Chalgrove Church

Dan-y-graig Church

Dorking (? not sure of word following – editor) Church, St Josephs, Schools Presbytery

x St. Dormier Church

x Englefield and x Ewell Churches

Felton Park Church

Glasgow Friary (added in pencil – editor)

Goring Church

Garswood and Wrightington schools

Hendon Church

Hammersmith Training College

Hammersmith Church and Convent Good Shepherd

x Highgate Cemetery uncertain as Cemetery etc of this (being (concluding illegible note – editor)

Homer Row London Our Lady of the Rosary Church and schools

Hartbury Church

x Ivor Church

Ingatestone Hall Church and additions

Kidderminster (Church of the Holy Family)

Lanark Church and Convent (added in pencil)

Leydden Church

Mortlake (in pencil)

Manor House Ilford Church and additions to old house

Marylebone Church and Schools (added in pencil – possibly Homer Road above – editor)

Nazareth House Church, Convent and cchools

New Hall Convent Lodge and Porch

Newton le Willows (added in pencil – probably Ashton-le-Willows – editor)

Romford Church

Rudding Park Cottages

Swindon Schools

Spicer St Spitalfields London schools

Spitalfields St. Anne’s Church

Stone part of Church and complete Convent

Stoke Staffordshire Convent and schools

Swynnerton Park Church and additions to house

x Streatley Church

x Shotterbrook Church

Southwark Notre Dame Convent (added in pencil)

Westminster Archbishops House. This was formerly the Guards Institute. Structural alterations were made to suit the requirements

Shrine enclosure for the late Cardinal Wiseman’s tomb removed to Westminster Cathedral.

Numerous tombs, sacred vessels and Altars were designed by Mr. Gilbert Blount

Oscott College extensions and additions

Haverstock Hill St. Dominics Church

Large drawings for metalwork

Fonts etc etc

Benches, vestment chests

and numerous other designs

The names with x against them I am uncertain about, they might be additions only but there are drawings of them among Mr. G. Blount’s

Wednesbury Church (added in pencil)

Westbury Convent (added in pencil)

Wolverton (added in pencil)

Wrightington schools (added in pencil)



(v) The Priory, Little Malvern (postcard, postmarked 26th January 1913, addressed to Mrs. Blount, Woodbridge Park, Guildford, Surrey )

I have not yet completed my paper – So, with yr kind permission will keep the documents a little longer. I have, alas, only one eye to work with, & must use it economically. My article I trust will appear in the Downside Review & of course you shall have a copy.

Yrs. v. faithfully

Gilbert Dolan O.S.B.


(vi) The Priory, Little Malvern 27.10.1913

(To Mrs Blount, Woodbridge Park, Guildford, Surrey)

Dear Mrs Blount,

I cannot tell you how much I am obliged to you for your kind communication – the photograph and Mr Purdie’s letter : & I shall look forward with pleasure for the further information which you promise me.

I am sure you will agree with me that our leading Catholic architects of the revival, especially such a one as your husband, deserve commemoration in some proper quarter.

With renewed thanks I am

Very sincerely yours

Gilbert Dolan O.S.B.



(vii) The Priory, Little Malvern, 12.3.14

Dear Mrs. Blount,

I thank you very much for so kindly giving me the supplementary information, dates etc., regarding your late husband’s career.  In a day or two I shall be sending it off to Father Abbot Butler, who has relieved me from the editorship for this year. As it is the Centenary year of Downside, instead of the three usual numbers, one volume with history, memoirs etc., for the period, will be issued in the summer, it is usual and I do not suppose that you would care for five copies of a work likely to run over 300 pages.  With the ordinary numbers one often had application for reprints (taken before the type was broken up) of special articles; the terms for these reprints varied, of course, with the number of pages; whether there was a portrait or print; whether a special cover was asked for etc. I will look up a specimen of what I mean that you may judge for yourself.  I have had the photograph reproduced and hope funds will run to its appearance in the Review.  There would be, of course, no difficulty of printing it there if you kindly thought fit to guarantee the cost.  If I were not a poor monk without a sixpence of my own I would gladly be at the expense myself, being anxious to preserve the memory and the features of so distinguished an aluminus of my old School, and me who was such an ornament to the Catholic body.  When I hear from the Right Rev. Editor I will write again.

Meantime with best thanks and wishes,

 I am

Yours very sincerely,

 (pro) Gilbert Dolan O.S.B.



(viii) Undated List of Gilbert R. Blounts designs etc.

The pencil additions and the Crosses are possibly by Emma Blount, his daughter (according to Philippa Hunter, Great Grand-daughter)

Clapham, Notre Dame Convent & Schools & Chapel (pencil)

Stoke Staffordshire Convent & Schools

Nazareth House Church (pencil addition) & Convent & schools

Wetbury Convent

Stone (pencil addition) part of Church & Convent complete

Carisbrook Priory (pencil addition) Dominican complete convent & Chapel

Blandford Sq Convent & Church (pencil addition) complete convent & chapel

Goring Church

Swynnerton Park Church (pencil addition) & additions to House

X Englefield

X Bradfield,

X Bassildon

X Ivor

X Barfriston

X Upton Church

Ewell (pencil addition) Chapel

X Hartbury

X Horne churches

X Tilehurst Church

Cheltenham Churcesh  (pencil addition) this was by Hansom

X Aldworth

X Shotterbrook Churches

X Leydden

X Streatley

X Chalgrove

Kidderminster Church of the Holy Trinity

Romford Church

Burton Park Church (pencil addition) Mr. Willock’s House)

Wednesbury Church

Brentwood St Jos  (pencil addition) Helens

Manor House Ilford Church (pencil addition) is an old house & additions to House only

Bow Our Lady Church

Gloucester St Peters Church

Brighton St Mary Magdalen

Brighton New Church (pencil additions) changed from new to old. St John’s Brighton Additions of chancel and chapels

Woodchester Franciscan Convent & Church (incorrect – editor)

Hammersmith Good Shepherd Church & Convent.

Bosworth Church of Our Lady (pencil addition) Hall for Sir Francis Turville KCMG

Bedford Church of the Holy Family (pencil addition) for the late Canon Warmoll

Dorking St Jos. Church  schools & Presbytery

Ingatestone Hall Church of St Erconwald (pencil addition) additions

Stone Convent (pencil addition) complete

Felton Park Church

X St Dormier Church

Dan-y-Craig Church

Spitalfields St Anne’s Church

Hendon Church

Homer Row London “Our Lady of the Rosary Church & Schools”

Castle Rising Church

Wolferton Church & schools

Old Beaumont College & Church (pencil addition) additions

X Coney Hatch Asylum

New Hall Convent Lodge and Porch

Rudding Park Cottages

Schools, Spicer Street (pencil addition) Spitalfields London E

X Swindon Schools

X Chelsea Almshouses

X Cinderford Cottages

X Highgate Cemetery (pencil addition) uncertain as to extent of this being protestant.

Garswood & Wrightington Schools (pencil addition) & additions to house

Arundel cottages (pencil addition) for the Duke of Norfolk

Ashton-le-Willows Church & Schools Sir B Gerard afterwards Lord Gerard



(ix) Undated Pencil Notes:

Ashton Le Willows Church  and school for Sir B Gerard)

Bromsgrove Church

Brentwood Church

Crewe Church

Caverswall Castle

Garswood Church

Felton (actually written Fetern – editor) Church

Hendon Church

Dorking Church and Presbytery Schools

Gloucester Church

Manor House, Little  (could be another similar word – editor) Ilford

Wednesbury Church

Richmond Church

Archbishops House

Two bottom drawers etc (not clear – editor)

St. Dominic’s Haverstock Hill Church

Carisbrook Convent and Church


Blount 4


Mrs Gilbert Blount 1

L to R. Jacobina Maria Sophie Brown nee Radcliffe (1820-1910), Emma Mary Agnes Theresa May nee Blount (1873-1956), Michael William Blount May (1906-1982) and Sophia Margaret Blount nee Brown (1844-1927)

Mrs Gilbert Blount 2

Sophia Margaret Blount and grandson Michael Blount May


Sophia Margaret Blount

Sophia Margaret Blount

Blount 5


Alfred Francis Blount, elder brother of Gilbert Robert Blount





Michael Blount was born on 26th March 1693 at Mapledurham and married Mary Agnes Tichbourne (1695-1777). He died on 2nd November 1739 at Winchester and was buried at Tichbourne near Alresford, Hampshire. Michael and Mary Agnes were the Great II Grandparents of Gilbert Blount.







Mary Eugenia Blount the daughter of Michael Blount (1719-1792) and Mary Eugenia Strickland (1723-1766). She was born on 28th February 1745 in Devonshire Street, London and baptised by Bishop Richard Challoner, the Vicar Apostolic of the London District. In 1765 she married Charles Stonor (1737-1781) of Stonor Park, Oxon, who died at Gravelines after the Gordon Riots in Bath. Secondly she married Thomas Canning (1755-1825). She died on 10th April 1828, probably at Stonor, and is buried with her husband in the Canning vault in Purley churchyard.  Mary Eugenia was blind after 1783.

She was Great Aunt of Gilbert Blount, sister-in-law (twice over) of Mary Canning of Cheltenham.  and mother of the first Lord Camoys.





Thomas Canning (1755-1825), the husband of Mary Eugenia Blount (above)



Possibly Michael Blount (1743-1821) brother of Mary Eugenia Blount and great uncle of Gilbert Robert Blount. There is a similar portrait of him at Mapledurham House.




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