London and Westminster, Improved

John Gwynn, R.A., 1776

London and Westminster Improved, Illustrated by Plans. To which is prefixed, A Discourse on Publick Magnificence: with Observations on the State of Arts and Artists in this Kingdom, wherein the study of the Polite Arts is recommended as necessary to a liberal education. John Gwynn, R.A. 1776

Gwynn’s proposal for the improvement of the Cities of London and Westminster including suggested restrictions on building, for Gwynn believed that “the finest part of town is left to ignorant and capricious persons”.

A self taught architect, town planner and friend of Samuel Johnson, Gwynn was known for the Magdalen Bridge, the Covered Market in Oxford and the Severn Bridges at Shrewsbury, Atcham and Worcester. He was also a founding member of the Royal Academy.

Gwynn was critical of the lack of control over building in London and passionate about implementing controls not just on design but on the standards of both materials and workmanship. He was a key figure in the introduction of the building act of 1774 implementing both. His plans proposed here and addressed directly to the King, were largely ignored at the time, though many similar were in fact later implemented.

The 20th century architectural historian John Summerson wrote “the amazing thing about this plan is its complete grip on reality”.

London and Westminster, Improved
London and Westminster, Improved
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