Gwilt, George (1775-1856) (DNB00)

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GWILT, GEORGE, the younger (1775–1856), architect, born in Southwark 8 May 1775, was elder son of George Gwilt the elder [q. v.] He was articled to his father, and succeeded him in business as an architect. He was from the first very fully employed, one of his earliest important commissions being the large warehouses erected about 1801 for the West India Dock Company, but he is not known as the author of any original works of artistic character. His tastes led him rather towards the study than the active practice of architecture, and he early devoted himself to archæological pursuits. He wrote many papers for the 'Archæologia' and the 'Vetusta Monumenta' of the Society of Antiquaries, of which he was elected a fellow on 14 Dec. 1815. In 1820 he superintended the rebuilding of the tower and spire of Wren's church of St. Mary-le-Bow,Cheapside, the upperportion of which had to be taken down in consequence of the decay of the iron cramps employed to hold the stones together. The foundations of the building were at the same time repaired, and Norman and even supposed Roman remains discovered. These are noticed in the description of the church in Britton and Pugin's 'Illustrations of the Public Buildings of London,' to which work Gwilt also contributed. He was particularly interested in the antiquities of Southwark, and contributed to the 'Gentleman's Magazine' of 1815 an article on the remains of Winchester Palace there. His most important archæological work was the restoration of the church of St. Mary Overy, Southwark, which was with him a labour of love. The tower and choir were restored 1822-1825 at a cost of 35,000l., and when, through the exertions of Thomas Saunders, F.S.A., the restoration of the lady chapel was proceeded with at a cost of 3,000l., raised by public subscription, Gwilt gave his services gratuitously. He died 26 June 1856 at the age of eighty-one, and was buried, by authority of the secretary of state, in a vault of the choir of St. Saviour's, Southwark.

Gwilt had three sons. The two eldest, George and Charles Edwin, were promising architects, but both died young. The latter contributed a paper on some antiquities of Southwark to the 'Archæologia' (xxv. 604).

[Builder, vol. xiv. (1856); Gent. Mag. 1833, pt. i. p. 254, 1856, ii. 250.]

G. W. B.