Saturday, 7 March 2015

Philip Webb 2015 @ SPAB

More on Philip Webb centenary at Red House & Standen  here

lifted in toto from SPAB website

The best man I ever knew’William Morris
Philip Webb (12 January 1831 – 17 April 1915) is often referred to as the ‘Father of Arts and Crafts Architecture’ yet his name is not as familiar as many others connected with the influential movement. In 1877, with William Morris, he was the co-founder of SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings). In 2015 Britain’s longest established heritage body will mark the centenary of his death with the re-launch of a major award for architectural students judged by an expert panel led by Webb enthusiast Kevin McCloud.

The Philip Webb Award 2015 will focus on Standen in West Sussex, Webb’s great country house built for the Beale family. SPAB is delighted to be working with the National Trust to offer students the opportunity to follow in Webb’s footsteps and devise a sympathetic and imaginative scheme for Standen’s courtyard and barn. The competition will be the centrepiece of a range of events and activities organised by SPAB (with other organisations and individuals) throughout the coming year to increase awareness of Webb’s important legacy.

Philip Speakman Webb was born in Oxford. As a young man he was articled to firms of builder-architects in Wolverhampton and Reading. He moved to London where he eventually became a junior assistant to architect George Edmund Street. In 1856, while working for Street, he met William Morris. The two were to become close friends and collaborators, a relationship embodied by Morris’ influential home, Red House, at Bexleyheath southeast London designed by Webb as his first independent commission.
The country house was to become Webb’s favoured niche and Standen (near East Grinstead) is a perfect surviving example of his skill and distinctive style.

Webb and Morris were key figures in the Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts movements of the late 19th century.  Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti were partners in their interior decorating and furnishing business.  Inspired by the skilled workmanship of earlier generations and alarmed by Victorian zeal for the conjectural ‘restoration’ of ancient buildings which often obliterated all traces of the past, Webb and Morris founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877.
With Morris, Webb wrote the SPAB Manifesto, one of the key documents in the history of building conservation. Its central call:
To put Protection in the place of Restoration. To stave off decay by daily care, to prop a perilous wall or mend a leaky roof by such means as are obviously meant for support or covering, and show no pretence of other art, and otherwise to resist all tampering with either the fabric or ornament of the building as it stands.” 
…an eloquent appeal for conservation rather than intrusive restoration, continues to underpin the Society’s work and approach in the 21st century.

Webb attended over 700 SPAB Committee meetings as well as undertaking numerous site visits. Today the Society is the proud guardian of much of his correspondence and design work. Many events arranged to celebrate Philip Webb in 2015 will draw on SPAB’s fascinating and unique archive.

In 1901 Philip Webb retired to the country and ceased practising. However, he continued to be an influence on the "school of rational builders" surrounding  SPAB stalwart William Lethaby, and Ernest Gimson and his community of architect-craftsmen based at Sapperton in Gloucestershire.

SPAB’s Philip Webb Centenary Programme for 2015
A series of events and activities throughout 2015 to mark the centenary of the death of architect Philip Webb, co-founder of the SPAB and a highly significant, though sometimes under-appreciated, figure in the history of conservation. Events confirmed to date include:
January – December 2015   Online Exhibition
A virtual exhibition, updated month by month, exploring Webb’s life and work, including items from collections at the SPAB, National Trust, William Morris Gallery and Emery Walker House, some not usually on show to the public. The exhibition goes live on 12 January to mark the date of Webb’s birth in 1831. To view, go to
March 2015                            SPAB Spring Lecture Series:
‘So great a man that no one has heard of him’  (William Lethaby)
A series of lectures celebrating Philip Webb drawing on new research and discoveries at Red House and in the SPAB’s archive. All lectures 6.15pm for 6.30pm at St Botolph’s Hall, Bishopsgate, London    (SPAB members £8/£28 for all four; non-members £9/£32 for all four. Ticket includes wine reception.)
5 March           Introducing Philip Webb                                              Peter Burman (SPAB Guardian)
12 March         Philip Webb, William Morris and Red House        Tessa Wild (National Trust)
19 March         Webb through his letters                                              John Aplin (author)
25 March         Webb’s enduring influence                                          Michael Drury (architect)
More information and booking:

These photos below of Arisaig House, near Mallaig.  Webb also designed the nearby village hall which by contrast looks just like a barn

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