Dan Gibson

Place of Birth

  • Born: 20 September 1865
  • Died: 19 June 1907 aged 41

The Arts and Crafts architect Dan Gibson was born on 20 September 1865 at Bassingthorpe, Lincolnshire, where his parents farmed 312 acres of land. He was educated at the Grammar School at Oakham before receiving his architectural education with Smith & Broderick of Hull. About 1888 he became an assistant to Richard Knill Freeman of Bolton and was sent as resident architect to supervise extensive building works at Graythwaite Hall near Windermere, the home Colonel Sandys where he remained until 1891. Here he first met the landscape architect Thomas Hayton Mawson with whom he was later in partnership.

In 1892 Gibson entered the London offices of Ernest George and Peto as an assistant. Described as the "Eton of architectural practices." it attracted some of the most talented young architects of their generation, including Edwin Lutyens, Guy Dawber, and Herbert Baker. However, in 1893 serious illness forced Gibson to leave Sir Ernest George after less than two years. He returned to the Lake District to recover.Here he later set up in independent practice with W H Ward as his assistant. They had met in the office of Ernest George and Peto where Ward had been an improver. Ward only remained briefly with Gibson, subsequently moving to the office of Edwin Lutyens before setting up practice on his own account.

It was during this period that Gibson developed his distinctive arts and crafts style.  No doubt inspired by the writings of Wordsworth and Ruskin and by his time with Ernest George, Gibson took the local vernacular building tradition merely as a starting point for his designs. His houses were generally long and low and would commonly feature simple massing, roughcast walls, sloping buttresses, arched porches, casement windows and trademark round chimneys. These last, beloved by Wordsworth, became symbolic but were a far from typical feature of Lakeland farms.

In 1897 (according to the directories) or 1898 (according to Mawson) Gibson entered into partnership with Thomas Mawson under the style Mawson & Gibson, architects, Crescent Road, Windermere. In the years 1898‑1900 they collaborated on extensive garden works and continued to work together even after the partnership was dissolved in 1899 or 1900. From about 1899 to 1902 Thomas Mawson’s son, John William Mawson, was an articled pupil. The practice still operated from Crescent Road, Windermere.  Thomas Mawson later wrote of the partnership:

The arrangement with my friend Dan Gibson lasted just two years (1898-1899) and strange though it may appear, it was our success that finally lead to its dissolution. My idea in seeking the partnership was to secure by our joint efforts a higher degree of architectural expression in the gardens which I planned. I had at the time no thoughts of proceeding beyond the legitimate limits of landscape architecture but such was Gibson’s genius and skill in every department of applied design, that no sooner had he made the round of my clients that he was busy with every conceivable kind of speciality undertaken by any architect. Ecclesiastical, domestic and garden designs along with designs for furniture, decorations, book-binding and jewellery jostled one another, and, as I feared, sometime under pressure of work, relegating garden design to a secondary place. In addition he collected for my clients china, furniture, silver, pewter, tapestries, prints and miniatures and almost every other imaginable artistic antique. His knowledge of these matters was wide and extensive, he having spent what veritably amounted to years of his life at South Kensington, the Wallace and other collections. [Thomas Mawson Life page 45]

Dan Gibson died on 19 June 1907, survived by his wife, Mary (1870‑1916) and his two sons, Guy Wordsworth Gibson and William Garnet Gibson. He was buried in the graveyard at Bowness‑on‑Windermere. His architectural practice was continued by W L Dolman who had been an assistant from 1902. He had agreed to pay Gibson’s wife one tenth of his income for 10 years and to give their elder son the opportunity to be articled to him. It is not clear if this was taken up but Gibson’s younger son, William, qualified as an architect and practised in Windermere.  

Mawson also wrote an appreciation of Gibson, published in the Architectural Association Journal of August 1907.

1897        Mawson and Gibson, architects, Crescent Road, Windermere (Kelly: Westmorland)
1906        Dan Gibson, architect, Crescent Road, Windermere (Kelly: Westmorland)

1881        Grammar School, Market Place Oakham, Rutland(1881 census)
1891        Graythwaite - lodging with James Wilson (1891 census)
1898        Dan Gibson. Marley Lodge Windermere
1901        Bowness on Windermere (Census)
1901         Dan Gibson Marley Lodge Burnside Road Bowness


Buildings and Designs

Building Name District Town/City County Country
Birkett House, Winster, near Windermere Winster  near Windermere  Cumbria  England
Sundial and Gates Graythwaite Hall Gardens Newby Bridge   Newby Bridge  South Cumbria  England
Pavilion, Hanley Park, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent Hanley  Stoke on Trent  Staffordshire  England
Entrance Lodge etc, East Park, Wolverhampton   Wolverhampton  Staffordshire  England
Bandstand, East Park, Wolverhampton   Wolverhampton  Staffordshire  England
Conservatory West Park Wolverhampton   Wolverhampton  Staffordshire  England
Garden Features Mount Stuart   Rothsay  Bute  Scotland
Ballimore Otter Ferry Loch Fyne Argyll Scotland Otter Ferry  Loch Fyne  Argyll  Scotland
Slains Castle Aberdeenshire Scotland     Aberdeenshire  Scotland
Aboyne Castle Aboyne Aberdeenshire Scotland   Aboyne  Aberdeenshire  Scotland
Red Braes Prestwick Ayrshire Scotland   Prestwick  Ayrshire  England
Brockhole   Windermere  Cumbria  England
Gatehouse The Flagstaff (Welsh Mountain Zoo) Colwyn Bay   Colwyn Bay  Conwy  Wales
Proposed Mansion: The Flagstaff   Colwyn Bay  Conwy  Wales
Beechmount Near Sawrey Near Sawrey  Hawkshead  Cumbria  England
Summerhouse, Cringlemire Troutbeck  Windermere  Cumbria  England
The Willows Preston Ashton-on-Ribble  Preston  Lancashire  England
"Wood House" Devon   South Tawton  West Devon  England
Choir stalls and Reredos; Church of St Margaret Prestwich Holyrood  Prestwich  GMCA  England
"Dawstones" Lickbarrow Road Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria`  England
“White Craggs” Clappergate near Ambleside Clappergate  Ambleside  Cumbria  England
Two Lodges etc Brooklandwood House near Baltimore USA   Baltimore  Maryland  United States
Memorial Gates to Dr Archibald Hamilton Queen’s Park Park Road Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
House, 23 Lansdowne Road, Rushmoor, Aldershot Rushmoor  Aldershot  Hampshire  England


Name Designation Formed Dissolved Location
Mawson and Gibson Architectural practice 1897 1899 Windermere