These architectural drawings submitted by the practice of Godwin & Crisp relate to the three controversial competitions held between 1865 and 1867 to select designs for the new assize courts in Bristol.

The largely self-taught architect Edward William Godwin was born in Bristol and set up practice there in 1854. In 1864, after several successes with municipal designs, he went into partnership with fellow Bristolian Henry Crisp (1825-96). In 1871 the partnership ended, and Godwin went on to become a celebrated architect of the Aesthetic Movement, with clients including James MacNeill Whistler and Oscar Wilde.

In the second competition for the Bristol courts, held in 1866, Godwin & Crisp won first, second and third places. Among the drawings in this acquisition are designs relating to their winning entry, considered by scholars to be Godwin’s finest unbuilt design. Other drawings in the group relate to the final competition in which Godwin & Crisp finished in second place, behind the winning practice of Popes & Bindon.

These important drawings, some hitherto known only from illustrations in the press, join RIBA’s unparalleled holdings of Godwin’s work, which includes further material relating to the Bristol competitions.


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