Gavin Stamp

Gavin Stamp was educated on a London County Council Scholarship at Dulwich College and took a degree in history and architectural history at Cambridge. He moved to London in 1972 and worked as an architectural draughtsman and graphic designer, combining this with journalism and cataloguing at the RIBA drawings collection. By the late 1970s he was describing himself as ‘an odd-job man in the vicious cut-throat world of architectural history’.

In 1978, on the recommendation of John Betjeman, he took on the ‘Nooks and Corners’ column in Private Eye, writing under the name of Piloti. He continued it until his death.

Rather than having neat beginnings and ends and lines of succession, style and tasted in architecture have unexpected precedents, go on much longer than you might expect, and sometimes apparently disappear only to re-erupt at inconvenient moments.

A lifelong activist and campaigner for the conservation of good architecture of any period he was active in the Victorian Society and the 20th-century Society. He took a prominent role in the Mansion House Square enquiry of 1984, which ended in defeat for the millionaire developer Peter Palumbo. Moving to Glasgow in 1990 to teach at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, he founded the Alexander Thomson Society to promote the work of the great Scottish architect who he felt was unfairly obscured by the cult of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Stamp was born in Kent and brought up in a bungalow on the Orpington by-pass, his spiritual home was always London and he returned in 2004.

He was married first to the publisher and journalist Alexandra Artley, with whom he had two daughters. After their divorce he married the writer and historian Rosemary Hill in 2014.

© Louis Hellman