Graham, James Gillespie (DNB00)
|←Graham, James (1799-1874)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 22
Graham, James Gillespie
|Graham, James Robert George→|
GRAHAM, JAMES GILLESPIE (1777?-1855), architect, born about 1777 at Dunblane, Perthshire, of poor parents named Gillespie, rose by his own ability from the position of a working joiner to be a leading Gothic architect. On his marriage with Margaret Anne Græme, daughter and heiress of William Graham of Orchill, Perthshire, he assumed the name of Græme or Graham, and succeeded to the estate on the death of his father-in-law. He resided in Edinburgh. About 1810 he designed Culdees Castle, Perthshire; in 1812 he removed the wings of the old mansion of Ross Priory, Dumbartonshire; designed large additions and added to the ancient castle of Dunse, Berwickshire, so as to harmonise with the old building (these three works are given in Neale's 'Views of Seats'). In 1813 he built Crawford Priory, Cutts, Fifeshire, enlarged in 1871-2; in 1813-14 the Roman catholic chapel in Broughton Street, Edinburgh; and in 1814 St. Andrew's Roman catholic chapel, Glasgow. In 1815 Graham laid out part of the lower new town, Edinburgh; designed a Gothic church at Libberton,near Edinburgh; and rebuilt Armidale Castle, Isle of Skye (plate in Neale). In 1819-20 he erected Dr. Jamieson's chapel in Edinburgh, about 1820 built Blythswood, Renfrewshire (plate in Neale), and a little later altered and enlarged Lee Place, Lanarkshire, converting the open quadrangle of the old mansion into a large Gothic hall (given in Neale). In 1825 Graham altered and enlarged Wishaw, Lanarkshire, and designed Hamilton Square, Birkenhead, which, though commenced soon after, remained incomplete for some years, and was finished on a reduced scale in 1845. In 1826-1828 he designed the parish church of Muthill, Perthshire, in the Gothic style; in 1835 a Catholic convent with a Saxon chapel attached to White House Lane, Edinburgh (said to be his chef d'œuvre); and in 1838 Greenside Church, Edinburgh, the tower of which was added in 1853. He designed and commenced the erection of Murthly Castle, Perthshire, but the works were interrupted by the death of the owner, Sir John Archibald Drummond-Stewart, sixth baronet, in 1838, and the building left unfinished. About 1840 he refitted the chapel of Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh, and in 1842-4, together with A. W. Pugin, erected the Victoria Hall, Castle Hill, Edinburgh, for the meetings of the general assembly. The foundation-stone of this beautiful building was laid by the queen on 3 Sept. 1842. The design of the spire has been claimed for Thomas Hamilton (1784-1858) [q. v.] A controversy on this subject was carried on in the 'Scotsman,' May-June 1882 (cf. Transactions of Architectural Institute, 1882). In 1842 he completed Taymouth Castle for the Marquis of Breadalbane, and in 1846 rebuilt Brodick Castle, Arran, on a magnificent scale for the Duke of Hamilton. In the latter year he restored for a catholic place of worship the small pre-reformation 'chapel of St. Anthony the Eremite' at Murthley. The designs of Graham and of Alexander Christie, who painted the altarpiece, were lithographed by Schenk & Ghemar, and published in Edinburgh in 1850. The chapel has since been dismantled, but is occasionally used as a protestant place of worship. Ayton House, Berwickshire, was one of Graham's latest works. He also designed many churches. To him is due the introduction of a purer Gothic style into Scotland. Graham was often afterwards as-associated professionally with Pugin. His friendship with Pugin was the result of an accident. Being shipwrecked near Leith in 1830 and finding himself destitute, Pugin made his way to Graham's house, though knowing him only by repute. Here he was well received, and on his departure Graham gave him his own pocket compasses, which he used through life, and which appear in Herbert's portrait. In 1836 he competed for the erection of the new houses of parliament at Westminster. The hand of Pugin was evident in much of his design. The design attracted attention during the exhibition of the unsuccessful drawings in the National Gallery in the spring of 1836 (cf. E. W. Pugin, Who built the Houses of Parliament? 1867, p. xiii). Under the name of James Gillespie he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 24 March 1817. He died at his residence, York Place, Edinburgh, 21 March 1855, and was buried in the Greyfriars churchyard. There is a portrait in Crombie's 'Modern Athenians,' Edin. 1882.
Graham left two daughters, the elder of whom, Mrs. Henrietta Græme-Oliphant, succeeded to the estate of Orchill.
[Redgrave's Dict, of Artists; Building Chronicle, Edinburgh, 1855, p. 170; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1886; Dict, of Architecture; Neale's Views of Seats, 1st ser. vol. vi., 2nd ser. vols. i. and iii.; Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland; Builder, 1855, p. 166; J. E. Reid's History of Bute, 1864, p. 140; Anderson's History of Edinburgh, p. 596; Proc. of Soc. Antiq. Scotl.; Univ. Cat. of Books on Art; New Statist. Account of Scotl. vi. 18, x. 329; B. Ferrey's Recollections of Pugin, pp. 62, 63, 241; Gent. Mag. 1836, i. 526; Morning Post, 14 May 1836, p. 6.]