Obituary: Jill Allibone

Jill Spencer Rigden, architectural historian: born Abadan, Persia 26 April 1932; married 1957 David Allibone (three daughters); died Tunbridge Wells, Kent 3 February 1998.

The architectural historian Jill Allibone was the biographer of the Victorian architects Anthony Salvin and George Devey and an active and campaigning vice-chairman of the Victorian Society in the 1980s.

She was born Jill Rigden in 1932 in Abadan, Persia, where her father, Horace Walter Rigden, managed the Anglo-Persian oil refinery. Much of her childhood was spent in Persia (now Iran), where her father remained in charge throughout the Second World War, though she was evacuated to South Africa. With this international background, it is interesting that when she returned to live in her father's county, Kent, she developed all the passion of a native for that part of England.

After Godolphin School, Salisbury, she went to St Martin's School of Art, and in 1954 to the Courtauld, where she specialised in Gothic art history. A contemporary remembers her as intellectually tough, benefiting from the intensive tutorial system then in place, which was so daunting that of the dozen students who started the year only six finished.

Despite getting married in her last year and doing her Finals already pregnant, she got a sufficiently good degree to enable her to return after the birth of three daughters to do a PhD. She and her solicitor husband, David Allibone, bought a 1920 Arts and Crafts house with a large garden in Kent, which became the centre of a very happy family life.

For her thesis, she chose Anthony Salvin, one of the most important of the early Goths, who worked for a large number of royal and aristocratic patrons, restoring medieval castles in a witty and scholarly manner. She was fortunate in having as her supervisor Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, one of the pioneering writers who in the 1950s awoke the British to their valuable and fast-disappearing legacy of Victorian buildings, and who was the first chairman of the Victorian Society, founded in 1958.

The work on Salvin and Pevsner's advocacy together enlisted Allibone's support for the society, which campaigns to save threatened buildings of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and for the next 30 years her enthusiasm and businesslike approach were to be of enormous benefit. She was a hard- working committee member, never afraid to fight for a cause or a building in which she believed. Moreover, as a former secretary of the society said, while there were always plenty of members who would point out what needed doing, Jill Allibone would do something herself to help.

Her doctoral thesis was published in 1987, as Anthony Salvin, Pioneer of Gothic Revival Architecture 1799-1881, an exhaustive study of a very successful practitioner, responsible amongst other things for Harlaxton Manor in Lincolnshire (1831-38), and the restoration in 1854-65 of Alnwick Castle for the Duke of Northumberland.

In 1990, she combined two of her enthusiasms, in George Devey: Architect 1820-1886, an account of an architect who adapted the traditional Kentish Wealden style for his buildings, thus creating an authentic vernacular style. A number of these were in Kent, including Betteshanger Manor (1856- 82), and additions to Walmer Castle (1871-72), but his extensive practice also included Ascott House in Buckinghamshire (1870-84) for Leopold de Rothschild and Killarney House in Kerry for Lord Kenmare (1877-79). She catalogued the Devey drawings for the British Architectural Library, and wrote the catalogue. Her interest in both architecture and the law came together in the essays she contributed to The Inns of Court (1996), to accompany photographs by Helene Binet.

Despite her roles as architectural historian and devoted mother and grandmother, for over 20 years Jill Allibone was a member of the South Westminster Bench. A fellow JP remembers her as a "fiercely independent colleague with a somewhat forbidding manner", but whose procedure was always correct, and her dealings with those in the dock both tough and fair. Behind this sometimes uncompromising exterior was a woman of many interests and enthusiasms, which she would always share with colleagues, whether on the Bench or as architectural historians, devoted to her family, her dogs, and an equally formidable parrot.

To her work she added two other enthusiasms, for the countryside and buildings of Kent, where she was a member of the Kent Buildings Preservation Trust, and recently for an endangered building type - the mausoleum. On a visit to a family grave in Whitstable, Kent, she was struck by the condition of a magnificent tomb, designed by Charles Barry junior in 1875, for Wynn Ellis, a major benefactor to the National Gallery. This led her to look seriously at the plight of these architecturally significant monuments, often erected by families which had since disappeared. With other architectural historians she set up a charitable Mausolea and Monuments Trust, finally constituted in 1997, which now owns and preserves some six of these monuments.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence