GIBBS, James
(b. 1682, Aberdeen, d. 1754, London)

Temple of Liberty

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Until the mid-eighteenth century, British architecture was wholly dominated by Palladianism. However, the supremacy of the Palladianism was on the wane in the second half of the century. The roughly simultaneous "discoveries" of both Greek Antiquity and the Middle Ages (the Gothic architecture) around the mid-eighteenth century brought with them a a basic, revolutionary change in historical perceptions of the time. When British architects and patrons now looked for a model for the design of their buildings, there was no longer a universally valid standard such as there had been in Palladianism up to the beginning of the eighteenth century. Now there were different styles of equal status from which one could choose.

In the park of Stowe in Buckinghamshire, one of the first Gothic Revival buildings was constructed in 1741: the Temple of Liberty with a triangular ground plan and polygonal corner towers and asymmetrically placed turrets, adorned with round and pointed arches, quatrefoils, pinnacles, and battlements. The Gothic temple was dedicated to liberty; in its mosaic-decorated interior, the owner's Anglo-Saxon ancestors were commemorated.