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Robert William Billings data.

Robert William Billings Source/Data Page

Robert William Billings was born in London in 1813 and became a pupil of John Britton at the age of 13. He early became a fine architectural draughtsman, and although he had no formal training as an architect was admitted ARIBA on 27 July 1835, his proposers being Peter Frederick Robinson, Henry Rhodes and Henry Edward Kendall. At that date he was based in Bath where he lived from 1834 until 1837, but both Robinson's nomination and his subsequent succession to Robinson as architect to Robert and Anna Gordon’s Kemble estate in Gloucestershire suggest that he may have had some practical training in Robinson's office. While in Bath he married Antoinette Clarkson on 21 April 1836. She had some skill in drawing and assisted him in his publications.

In 1837 Billings drew the illustrations for George Godwin's 'History and Description of St Paul's', followed by 'The Churches of London' with another Britton protégé, Frederick Mackenzie. Concurrently with these publications he assisted Sir Jeffry Wyatville with the later stages of the reconstruction of Windsor Castle, his connection with the project lasting until at least 1845, and made drawings of the ruins of the Palace of Westminster after the fire of 1834.

Billings's other publications of the 1830s and early 1840s comprise 'Temple Church' (1838); 'Gothic panelling in Brancepeth Church' (1841); 'Kettering Church' (1843); 'Carlisle Cathedral' (1840); 'Durham Cathedral' (1843) and 'The Architectural Antiquities of the County of Durham' (1846). At that date he was living at 4A Lower Belgrave, London.

In the early 1840s Billings became acquainted with the Edinburgh architect William Burn. How this came about is unclear as it appears to have preceded Burn’s work on Raby Castle in County Durham. Initially Billings seems to have been drafted in on a short-term contract to help with the major projects Burn and his partner David Bryce then had in hand as it is known that he designed a carpet for the royal visit to Dalkeith Palace in 1842, but by that date Burn already had been planning a book on Scottish architecture. A volume of Bryce drawings of Heriot’s Hospital and the tombs in Greyfriars Churchyard, now in George Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, may relate to it. When Burn moved to London in 1844 leaving Bryce in charge of the Edinburgh office, he again sought out Billings with the proposal that he should undertake ‘The Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland’ to be published by William Blackwood’s sons Robert and John Blackwood. The concept was finalised in October 1845 and once Billings’s existing commitments in Durham and at Windsor had been cleared, work began in earnest in February 1846, the year in which the prospectus was issued and subscriptions raised. The project cost was largely provided by the Blackwoods who found Billings ‘a very rum customer’ but were reassured by his enthusiasm and the excellence of his draughtsmanship.

Blackwood published the book in sixty parts, each with four plates retailing at two shillings and sixpence. The area surveyed extended as far as Orkney, Antoinette travelling with her husband and ‘studying drawing most confoundedly hard so as to be useful as well as ornamental’. In the north-east Billings was greatly assisted by Thomas Mackenzie, the Elgin and Aberdeen architect, who remained a particular friend until his premature death in 1854. At the Blackwoods’ insistence ‘Historical Notice’ sections in the text were provided by the historian John Hill Burton, both Burn and Billings having initially resisted his involvement.  from  Scottish Architects

Printed for the Author, by Wm. Blackwood, 1845-1852., 1852. Complete in four 250pp quarto volumes with engraved titles, each volume with sixty fine guarded steel engraved plates of the most noteable Castles, homes, cathedrals and churches of Scotland. . . . . .Set comprises 4 engraved titles & 240 steel-engraved plates, engraved by J. Sadler, J.H. le Keux, J.Godfrey, & others after drawings by Billings. plus numerous wood-engraved text illustrations. A leading 19th-century authority on British architecture and practicing architectural restorer (Edinburgh + Stirling Castles) Robert Billings was known for the accuracy of his drawings and for his (for once) informative comments. He was a master of geometry , who had a remarkable skill for creating tracery windows closely matching those of the original Gothic masons. The detailed etchings of 16th-century Scottish Castles provided an inspiration to the Baronial movement and as a pattern book for the Gothic revival. They are listed here as printed in alphabetical order/volume order

Volume 1

Arberbrothock Abbey -( Forfar) Western Doorway; Interior of the West end; Arcade above the Western Doorway; South transept Internally ;Woodcut in text/ Abbey gateway
Aberdeen- Old House on School Hill; Kings College View of lantern Tower & Chapel; Interior of the Chapel + Stallwork; Interior of the Library; Woodcut in text/ Geometric tracery Panelling of the stalls; Cathedral.. western towers; Cathedral.. Monuments in the North transept; Cathedral.. Interior of the Nave
Aberdour House ( Fife)
Airth Castle ( Linlithgow)
St Andrew's Cathedral ( Fife) West Front; Woodcut in text/ Portion of the nave; The Church of St Regulus; College Church. . External View St Salvator ;College Church. . Bishop Kennedy's Tomb
Auchan's Castle ( Ayr)
Balveny Castle ( Banff) External View; Court Yard; Woodcut in text/ Circular Window at Elgin
Borthwick Castle ( Edinburgh) External View; Interior of the Hall
Brechin cathedral & Round Tower ( Forfar)
Burgie Castle ( Elgin) Two views; Woodcut in text/ termination of Staircase
Caerlaverock Castle (Dumfries) General View;Entrance Towers the Court yard ;Woodcut in text/ Interior of the Entrance Tower; Woodcut in text/ The Portcullis Room
Cambuskenneth Tower( Stirling)
CastleCampbell (Clackmannan) Distant view; The Court yard
Interior of the Hall CastleFraser......see fraser Castle
CastleStewart. . . see Stewart Castle
Cawdor Castle(Nairn) Entrance with Drawbridge; Back View; Woodcut in text/ Vault with the Thorn Stone & Ancient Chest
Clackmannan Tower Principal Front; Woodcut in text/ Turrests & Battlements
Coldingham Priory ( Berwick) East end; Interior of the Clere Story
Corstophine Church (Edinburgh) External View + The Foresters Tomb Coxton Tower ( Elgin) View of the Pricipal Front
Woodcut in text/ Opposite Side of the Tower
Craigevar Castle ( Aberdeen) North west View; South west View; The Great hall ; Bed Room and Plans of two Ceilings; Woodcut in text/ Termination of Tower and Turret
Craigmillar Castle ( Edinburgh) External View; the Great hall
Craigstone Castle (Aberdeen)
Crathes Castle (Kincardine) External View South West; Court Yard View North east; East Gable
Crichton Castle ( Edinburgh) Distan ViewThe Court Yard -||- with Arcade & Chequered wall
Crichton Church (View ) with border detail from the Castle
Crossraguel Abbey (Ayr) Exterior South East; Interior of the East End; Chapter House, Interior;Entrance Tower to the Castle; Woodcut in text/ Compartment of the Choir
Dairsie Church( Fife) South East View; Woodcut in text/ Corbelling of the Tower
Dalmeny Church (Linlithgow) South East View ; The Porch; Interior View Looking East


Dalpersie House( Aberdeen) Two View; Woodcut in text/ Ground plan
Dirleton Castle(Haddington) External View; The Court yard & entrance Tower Woodcut in text/ The Baron's Seat in the Great Hall
Doune Castle ( Perth) External View ; The Court yard & Entrance Tower; Woodcut in text/ The Kitchen
Drochill Castle (Peebles) External View; Woodcut in text/ Corbelling of Turret
Dryburgh Abbey (Roxburgh) North Side of the Choir,Sir Walter Scott's Tomb; Exterior of the Chapter house and South Transept
Dunlane Cathedral (Perth) Western Front;South Side; South East View; interior of the nave; Woodcut in text/ Ancient Stall work of the Choir Dundee (Forfar) The Old Church Tower
Dunfermline Abbey (Fife) North Side; Interior of the nave; Norman Arcade in the nave;Exterior of the refectory; West End of the refectory and Palace Ruins; Woodcut in text/ 1 The Porch; Woodcut in text/ 2. Western Front
Dunkeld Cathedral (Perth) West Front; Interior of the Nave; Portion of the South Side; Interior of the South aisle ;Woodcut in text/ Restoration of the West Window
Dysart (Fife) Gable end of Old House;Woodcut in text/ Old House & Church Tower
Edinburgh St Giles Cathedral :The Lantern;The Choir;Woodcut in text/ Circular Headed Doorway;Interior of the Parliament House; Moray House; Ceiling in the Balconied Room;Woodcut in text/ Exterior view; Trinity College Church...Exterior;Interior Looking east ;Woodcut in text/ North Aisle St Margaret's well at Restalrig
Edzell Castle (Forfar) External View;Interior of the Garden wall; Woodcut in text/ Compartment of the Garden wall
Elco Castle (Perth) External View
 Elgin Arcaded House Illustrative of Street Architecture Elgin Cathedral Western Front & Towers; Western Doorway; Interior of the Western front; The Western Towers & South Side; the Choir Looking East internally; The Choir & South Aisle Exterior; Details of the Eastern Window; The Chapter House Interior; Woodcut in text/ The South Transept; Woodcut in text/ Details of Doorway
 Falkland Palace (Fife) Entrance gateway; The Court yard
Woodcut in text/ Summit of the entrance Tower Foulis easter Church (Forfar) Two Views Fraser Castle (Aberdeen) General View( South); The Court yard ( North); The East Side; Details of Corbelled Turret in the Court yard
Fyvie Castle (Aberdeen) Principal Front; Central gable; The Great Newelled Staircase; Woodcut in text/The Court yard and Modern entrance
Glammis Castle(Forfar) Principal front; Details of turrets and roof; Back View of the Castle; Interior of the Great hall
Glasgow University entrance Front; The Staircase in the Court yard; The Inner Court Woodcut in text/ Staicase in the Outer Court yard
Glenbucket Castle (Aberdeen) Court yard and entrance; Woodcut in text/ External View

Glagow Cathedral Eastern View; South West View; interior of the Nave and South Aisle; The Choir Screen and Staircase to the Crypt; Interior of the Choir; The Lady Chapel; Central Portion of the Crypt ; Eastern end of the Crypt; Woodcut in text/ Window Head ; Woodcut in text/ The Crypt; Woodcut in text/ South Aisle of the Crypt
Haddington Church South west View; North Transept; Woodcut in text/ The Choir
Heriot's Hospital (Edinburgh) South West View ;Entrance gateway to the Quadrangle; The Court yard and Towers; The Court yard and Chapel; The Council Room; Woodcut in text/ George Heriot's Nautilus Drinking Cup
Holyrood (Edinburgh) View from St Anthony's Chapel; Queen mary's Room; Exterior of the Chapel, North Side; West Front of the Chapel; Interior of the Chapel looking east; Woodcut in text/ Arcade of the West Front; Woodcut in text/ Internal Arcade
 Huntley Castle (Perth) View Huntley Castle. . .
Strathbogie ( Aberdeen) Principal FrontEntrance Doorway and Tower
Incholm (Edinburgh) The Chapter House
Innes House ( Elgin)
Iona The Cathedral : The West Front and Ancient Cross; South East View; Interior of the Choir; Woodcut in text/ Ancient Column & Tracery Window in Tower;The Nunnery : internal View
Jedburgh Abbey (Roxburgh) The West Front;  North transept and Tower ; North Side of the Tower; Portion of the North side of the nave;Woodcut in text/ South Aisle of the Choir
Kelburne House (Ayr) preface
Kelso Abbey (Roxburgh) the west Front North transept externally; Northern Doorway; Interior of the South side;Woodcut in text/ Arcade of the North Transept
Kildrummie Castle ( Aberdeen) The Chapel End & Round Tower;Woodcut in text/ External View
 Kilaverock Castle (Nairn)
Kilwinning Abbey (Ayr) the Transept
 Kirkwall (Orkney) Cathedral : North west View; South East View; The Western Front; South Transept and Bishop's;Interior of the nave Looking east
Interior of the Choir; Woodcut in text/ Geometric Panelling of Earl Patrick's pew; The Earl's palace: Court yard
Woodcut in text/ Stone vaulted Room on the Staircase
Leuchar's Church (Fife) East End Externally; part of the South Side Externally; Interior of the Estern Apse; Woodcut in text/ Window Heads and details External View of the Earl's hall
 Linlithgow The Church ; The South side; North east View; Interior of the nave Looking West; Woodcut in text/ The Western Doorway
The Palace: The eastern or Ancient Entrance Front; The Southern Gateway and Portion of the Church; The Court yard; Parliament Hill internally; Staircase and Queen Margaret's Bower; Woodcut in text/ Staircase of the Quadrangle

Lincluden College (Dumfries) South Side with Window Tracery restored; Interior Looking
 East Maybole Tower ( Ayr) External View; Back View & View of the Tolbooth
Melrose Abbey (Roxburgh) South West View; South transept Exterior; east end exterior; Part of the Cloisters & entrance to the Church; Interior: View across the nave; The South Transept;The North Transept; The Chancel Looking East; Woodcut in text/ The South Aisle of the Nave
Woodcut in text/ The Tower Pararpet Michael Kirk (Elgin) External View Midmar Castle ( Aberdeen) External View; The Court yard
St Monace Church (Fife) External South East; Interior Looking East
Muchalls House (Kincardine) with its Old Court Yard Wall
 New Abbey (Dumfries) North west View; Interior : of the NaveLooking West; North Transept Internally; The East End Internally;Woodcut in text/ Aisle of the South Transept
Newark Castle / Port Glasgow (Renfrew) View; The Court yard
 Noltland Castle / Westray (Orkney) View; Woodcut in text/ The Staircase
Paisley Abbey (Renfrew) The west Front; North Side externally; Interior: The Nave Looking West; South Aisle of the Nave; Woodcut in text/ Sedilliae in the Ruins of the Choir
Pinkie House (Edinburgh) The Court yard; Two Gables
PluscardenPriory ( Elgin) West Side of the Transept; East End; Interior: the North Transept; The Chapter House
Woodcut in text/ Doorway to the Cloisters
 Rosslyn Chapel (Edinburgh) The West Front; The South Side; Decorated Window Head from the east end
Flying Buttresses, North Side; Interior: The North Aisle Looking east;; South Side with Vaulted Ceiling View Across the East end; Woodcut in text/ The Lower Chapel; Woodcut in text/ North East View
Ruthven Castle (Perth) . .or Huntingtower
Seton Chapel (Haddington) Exterior View the South Side; Interior looking east
Spynie Palace ( Elgin) The Entrance gateway and Keep tower
 Stewart Castle (Inverness) North west View; South East View; Woodcut in text/ South West View
Stirling The Court Yard of the Castle; East End of the Church Internally; The Earl of Mar's lodging; Argyle's House: the Court Yard; Woodcut in text/ Entrance to the Court yard
Tantallon Castle(Haddington) External View; The Court yard
Tolquhon Castle (Haddington) The Entrance Towers; Entrance to The Court yard
Towie by Turrep (Aberdeen) Interior Of the Castle hall; Woodcut in text/ Groined window Head in the hall
Udny Castle (Aberdeen) External View
Wintoun House (Haddington) External View; Interior: The Drawing Room; King Charles's Room; Woodcut in text/ Ornamental Window Head

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