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Encyclopedia > William Wilkins (architect)

William Wilkins (31 August 177831 August 1839) was an English architect, classicist and archaeologist.

Wilkins was born in Norwich, the son of a succesful builder who also managed a chain of theatres. He studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and after touring Greece, Asia Minor and Italy between 1801 and 1804, published researches into both Classical and Gothic architecture, becoming one of the leading figures in the English Greek Revival of the early 1800s.

Among his works in the Classical neo-Grecian style were Downing College, Cambridge (designed 1805, built 18071820 but not completed owing to lack of funds), the East India Company College, Haileybury (1809) and University College, London (18251832).

He also produced buildings in the Gothic style, which he preferred, including work done in the 1820s at King's , Trinity and Corpus Christi Colleges in Cambridge.

His most famous work, the National Gallery, was completed in 1838; it has been less admired by critics than some of his other buildings. He is buried in the chapel of Corpus Christi College, his own favourite among his works.


  • Antiquities of Magna Graecia (1807)
  • Atheniensia (1816)
  • Civil Architecture of Vitruvius (1812 and 1817)
  • Prolusiones Architectonicae (1837)


R. Windsor Liscombe, "Wilkins, William (1778-1839)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [accessed 4 October 2004: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29422]

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