The Twentieth Century Society


Gavin Stamp
Gavin with Rosemary Hill on the Nairn's London tour, 30 November 2014

Remembering Gavin Stamp


We are very sad to hear of the death of Gavin Stamp on December 30th 2017.

Gavin Stamp played a pivotal role in C20 Society, from its earliest days. He was a founder member of the Thirties Society in 1979, and a very active long-term Chairman for over twenty years, from 1983-2007.  He continued to be involved in our casework, events and publications right up to his death, contributing to our most recent books (both 100 Buildings and 100 Houses), where his pithy judgements combined the forthright opinions and deep knowledge of his best journalism.

Many members will remember the inspirational tours of C20 architecture abroad which he led for us, to destinations including Budapest, New York and Ljubljana, at a blistering pace and with an energy and critical eye that always ensured fresh insights.   The notes of his five C20 Society tours of war cemeteries across France, Belgium and Italy have never been published, but can be downloaded from our website  We are also posting a complete list of all the Gavin tours below, as a tribute to the breadth of his interests, and his generosity in sharing his passions.

Although some of our more recent casework (such as the listing of Richard Rogers Lloyd’s building, and Stirling’s No 1 Poultry) called for the protection of buildings which themselves replaced ones he had previously championed, he was always willing to assess the architectural qualities of a building without prejudice. We will miss him very much.

An obituary by Alan Powers will appear in the next issue of C20 Magazine, and we are inviting members and supporters to add their memories to our Facebook page.   An obituary has appeared in the Telegraph. Further information about memorial events will be posted shortly.

Foreign Trips led by Gavin Stamp for C20 Society

Belgium Coast – 1988

Paris – April 1989

Netherlands (Amsterdam, Hilversum, Rotterdam) – September 1990

Glasgow September 1990 (Year of Culture)

Prague – September 1991

Copenhagen – May 1992

Milan and Como – May 1993

Ljubljana – May 1994

Stockholm – May 1995

Chicago (and Milwaukee) – March 1996

Berlin – October 1997

Budapest – October 1998

Rome – November 1999

New York – October 2000

Bucharest – October 2001

Riga – October 2002

Genoa – October 2003

Tallinn, Estonia May 2006

Lisbon – October 2004

Turin – October 2005

First War Cemeteries Event, Northern France – September 2006

Havana – February 2007

Second War Cemeteries Event, France and Belgium – September 2007

Third War Cemeteries Event, Eastern France – September 2010

Fourth War Cemeteries Weekend, Italy – September 2012 (with Nicholas Long)

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5 responses to “Remembering Gavin Stamp”

  1. Robert Drake says:

    Gavin was a really unique person who will be a huge loss to C20, to conservation and to life in general and a huge influence on me. He was personally a very kind man but could also be an unforgiving oppenent if one had the temerity to disagree with him on architectural matters. His foreign trips for the Thrities Society and C20 were legendary particularly those to Eastern Europe in the 1990’s when visa free travel became possible . He led them with such energy allied with his formidable contacts and expertise although the pace was fast and breaks few. In Ljubljana (1994) he managed to get the two mian Plecnik experts, normally not on speaking terms into the same room. In Brno (Czechoslovakia – it was 1991) we had lunch with Bat’a architect Vladimir Karfik and then a memorable visit to the Mies’s Tugendhat House when it was still a conference centre and a top level ‘Velvet Divorce’ meeting was taking place but they nonetheless made way for u to see this marvellous villa in its unrestored state.

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    Shocked to hear this. I remember Gavin’s very, er, challengingly-timed(!) C20 tour of Oxford some years ago; he also helped me out with my first book, for which I was very grateful. He was Lord Kitchener’s valet, and will be missed.

  3. I first knew Gavin from the old days at the Bride of Denmark and the Architectural Press. From then on for some forty years our paths crossed, here and there. The links were personal, professional, fond and admiring. More recently my work on Elisabeth Scott, for a BBC R3 feature, brought us into direct contact and then followed various collaborations around Ian Nairn. In the past there were moments when my SPAB affiliations and his Scott ones clashed but, as others write, he could disagree furiously but without animosity – though I think he softened on that particular topic. I joined the Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson Society and came to value Glasgow greatly, in large measure thanks to him. Where the Twentieth Century Society is concerned I came ‘on board’ as President well after his Chairmanship, but the conservation ethos of our own period has been forged in his spirit. He is irreplaceable in a hundred ways, but we can be proud that the Society and its influence can be seen as one of his most valuable legacies.

  4. Polly Powell says:

    I remember Gavin first from Bedford Park in the 1970s when he was one of a group of distinguished architectural writers at the court of Roderick Gradidge. A few years later, I asked Gavin to give a student Society lecture in Manchester and he very gracefully accepted my vacated student digs (he had requested The Midland) as quarters – always pragmatic. Latterly, we at Batsford/Pavilion had commissioned him to write his great work on Sir Giles, as he called him. It is a huge loss that this book did not come to fruition. I am hoping there is a way.

  5. Louise Campbell says:

    In 2008 I invited Gavin to give the plenary lecture on ‘Lutyens and Spence’ at a conference on Architecture, Diplomacy and National Identity: Sir Basil Spence and mid-century modernism at the British School at Rome. Erudite and entertaining, his lecture provided a wonderful start to the conference. I suspect that Gavin was not previously an admirer of Spence’s embassy, but he was impressed by visiting it. One of his last columns in Private Eye deplored the proposal to sell it off.
    Gavin, his scholarship and his campaigning spirit will be sorely missed.

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