Basic Biographical Details

Name: Charles Heath Wilson
Designation: Architect
Born: September 1809
Died: 3 July 1882
Bio Notes: Charles Heath Wilson was born in London in September 1809, the son of the Scottish-born landscape painter Andrew Wilson, master of the Trustees' Academy, 1818-1826. He studied painting with his father and spent the years 1826-1833 in Italy where he studied architecture and made copies of the decorative work of Raphael at the Vatican and the Farnesina. He then returned to Edinburgh to practise as both artist and architect and teach at the Trustees' Academy where he established a new department of design and became Director. He then moved to London following his appointment as Director of the Somerset House School after William Dyce resigned in 1843, having made his name with a technical report on fresco painting for the Select committee on the Fine Arts Commission for the new Houses of Parliament. The Director's post was abolished in 1847, as was his subsequent post of Director of Provincial Schools in the following year. In 1849 Wilson moved to Glasgow as headmaster of the Government School of Design. His tenure ended when the institution was transferred from the Board of Trade to the Department of Science and Art in 1863 and he set up in business as an architect although his practice had previously been limited to monuments and ship interiors rather than buildings. Nevertheless he remained Honorary Director of the School, which thereafter became the School of Art, and a trustee of the Haldane Academy.

Wilson was elected ARSA in 1835 but he did not exhibit after 1842 which resulted in his resignation in 1858. While in Glasgow he organised the Scottish Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures for the Architectural Institute of Scotland, 1854-56, and supervised the programme of installing Munich painted glass in the cathedral in 1858-64, designing several of the windows himself.

As Wilson had some influential patrons, David Thomson, who had been his instructor in architecture at Glasgow School of Art, took him into partnership in 1864. He was appointed Honorary Curator of the Corporation Galleries in January of the following year at 100 per annum but in 1868 Wilson withdrew to live and work in Florence, having become possessed of substantial private means, and took his family with him. There he completed his long-planned 'Life of Michelangelo', published in 1876.

Wilson died in Florence on 3 July 1882. Almost every member of his family inherited artistic capability, the most important being the landscape painter William Heath Wilson.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Wildshire's Lodgings/9, South St David Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1835  
Item 2 of 57, North St David Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business1836  
Item 3 of 542, York Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business1838  
Item 4 of 58, Northumberland Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/businessc. 1839c. 1843 
Item 5 of 529, St Vincent Place, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 18651868 

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1C H Wilson & D Thomson18631868Partner 

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 211836Design for a fountain executed at Newcastle-upon-Tyne  Newcastle upon TyneEngland 
Item 2 of 211836Design for a fountain in the Italian cinquecento style     
Item 3 of 211838Design for a cottage in the Italian style for Howard Galton Esq of Hazar     
Item 4 of 211840Nelson's ColumnTrafalgar Square LondonEnglandCompetition design
Item 5 of 211841Proposed monument to the Duke of Wellington    Suggestion for placing
Item 6 of 211842Wemyss Bay, plan for layoutWemyss Bay RenfrewshireScotlandPlan for layout
Item 7 of 211855Glasgow Necropolis, Monument to Henry Monteith of CarstairsDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 8 of 211864Duntreath CastleStrathblane StirlingshireScotlandRebuilding
Item 9 of 211864(?)Oban Episcopal Cathedral of St John the DivineOban ArgyllScotlandWork had commenced under Charles Wilson, and was continued by David Thomson under his new partnership with the unrelated Charles Heath Wilson
Item 10 of 211865BroomhallLimekilns, Dunfermline FifeScotlandPortico and internal alterations
Item 11 of 211865Memorial to Prince Consort  EdinburghScotlandCompetition designs for both Princes Street and Queen Street sites
Item 12 of 211866Benmore, The LodgeKilmun ArgyllScotland 
Item 13 of 211866Charterhall, The LodgeFogo/Duns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 14 of 211867Barncluith, Monument to the Duke of HamiltonCadzow LanarkshireScotlandCharles Heath Wilson mainly responsible
Item 15 of 211867Glasgow Necropolis, Monument to John Graham GilbertDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 16 of 211867McLellan Art Gallery and warehouse  GlasgowScotlandConversion of part of the building into a picture gallery for Corporation
Item 17 of 211867Pollok House stablesPollok GlasgowScotlandAlterations -Wilson mainly responsible
Item 18 of 211868(?)Ewart InstituteNewton Stewart WigtownshireScotlandNorth east tower added
Item 19 of 211868McCorquodale's Printing Works  GlasgowScotland 
Item 20 of 21c. 1868Design for a villaOban (near) ArgyllScotland 
Item 21 of 21c. 1868(?)Design for a village episcopal chapel     


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 8Byrom, Connie2005The Edinburgh New Town Gardens: 'blessings as well as beauties' Birlinnpp192-198
Item 2 of 8Ferguson, H C S Glasgow School of Art: the history   
Item 3 of 8McEwan, P J M1994Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture   
Item 4 of 8Port, M H1876The Houses of Parliament New Haven & Londonp255
Item 5 of 8Post Office Directories     
Item 6 of 8Rawson, George (ed.) Missionary of art: Charles Heath Wilson, 1809-1882 Foulis Press of Glasgow School of Art 
Item 7 of 8Smith, George Fairfull2000'Charles Heath Wilson and David Thomson: a forgotten architectural partnership' AHSS Magazine, no 11, Winter 2000 
Item 8 of 8Williamson, George C (ed.) Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers