Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Stark
Designation: Architect
Born: 25 May 1770
Died: 9 October 1813
Bio Notes: William Stark was born on 25 May 1770 in Dunfermline, the son of Mark Stark of Lasswade, Midlothian, a merchant and millowner in Glasgow. One of Stark’s older sisters married the Glasgow architect John Craig. It is possible that Stark was a pupil in his office. Stark married Catherine Thomson, daughter of George Thomson who was a musical scholar. The couple had one daughter, also Catherine.

In 1798 Stark visited St Petersburg presumably in connection with a commission there. There may have been a link to the architect Charles Cameron, then employed in Russia.

Stark’s career began in Glasgow but he moved to Edinburgh for the sake of his health about 1807. He is listed in Post office directories at various addresses in Edinburgh. He died at his home in Drumsheugh, Edinburgh, on 9 October 1813.

Stark must have suffered from poor health for some time before his death. Sir Walter Scott who thought highly of him remarked that ‘he must rise very high in his profession if the bad health from which he suffers does not keep him down’. Elsewhere he described him as having ‘genius’. The ‘Scots Magazine’ at the time of his death said ’ his reputation, deservedly high in Scotland, was spreading rapidly in England at the time of his death’. The Lunatic Asylum in Gloucester for which he had drawn up plans was completed after his death.

Stark was an original thinker. He was aware of contemporary medical opinion about the organisation of asylums and published 'Remarks on the Construction of Public Hospitals for the Cure of Mental Derangement' in 1807. At Glasgow he attempted to put his ideas into practice and to segregate by sex, social background and mental condition, one of the earliest asylums attempting to do this.

Stark was also an innovative town planner. He printed 'Report to the Lord Provost, Magistrates and Council of Edinburgh on the Plans for Laying out the Grounds for Buildings bewteen Edinburgh and Leith' which was published posthumously in 1814. It was also published in the Scots Magazine in 1815. This is a remarkably forward thinking understanding of the Edinburgh townscape. His principles, which included variety in layout rather than a rigid grid of streets, careful attention to contours, the benefits of oblique views and the picturesque value of trees) were mainly put into plan carried out by William Henry Playfair.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness   

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 201802Glasgow Cathedral  GlasgowScotlandAlterations to east end of chancel (since removed)
Item 2 of 201804The Hunterian Museum  GlasgowScotland 
Item 3 of 201805Glasgow Cathedral  GlasgowScotlandRefitted the Inner High Church
Item 4 of 201805SchoolGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandDesigns dated
Item 5 of 201807St George's Tron Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 6 of 201808BroomhallLimekilns, Dunfermline FifeScotlandDesigned friezes etc in State Rooms. Also unexecuted designs for Greek Revival portico etc.
Item 7 of 201808Dunfermline AbbeyDunfermline FifeScotlandRebuilding of south-west tower, plus repairs, alterations and improvements
Item 8 of 201809Grange HallForres MorayshireScotland 
Item 9 of 201809Saline Parish ChurchSaline FifeScotland 
Item 10 of 201810Glasgow Royal Asylum  GlasgowScotlandOpened in 1914, after Stark's death
Item 11 of 201810Justiciary Court Houses  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building: only portico remaining now
Item 12 of 201812Bowhill HouseSelkirk SelkirkshireScotlandCentre block of south front. Continued by William Atkinson.
Item 13 of 201812Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum and feuing of groundsStobswell DundeeScotland 
Item 14 of 201812Muirkirk Parish ChurchMuirkirk AyrshireScotlandCompleted by Thomas Smith (which Smith is this?)
Item 15 of 201812Signet Library  EdinburghScotlandDesigns drawn up and work begun. Interior of Signet Library.
Item 16 of 201812Signet Library  EdinburghScotlandInterior of the Advocates Library (now the Upper Signet Library).
Item 17 of 201813The Lunatic AsylumGloucester GloucestershireEnglandProvided plans
Item 18 of 20Before 1813City Observatory, boundary wall and Playfair Monument, Calton Hill  EdinburghScotlandDrew up designs for Observatory. Lord Elgin remarks on Stark's 'beautiful designs for an Observatory on Calton Hill'. It may have influenced Playfair's executed design.
Item 19 of 20Before 1813Dunfermline AbbeyDunfermline FifeScotlandProposals for new parish church
Item 20 of 20c. 1813Middle Church, Monument to Lt-Col Henry CrawfurdGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 12APSD The Dictionary of Architectureed Wyatt PapworthThe Architectural Publication Society (8v 1852-1892) 
Item 2 of 12APSD The Dictionary of Architectureed Wyatt PapworthThe Architectural Publication Society (8v 1852-1892) 
Item 3 of 12Cockburn, Henry1910Memorials of his Time  pp278-9
Item 4 of 12Colvin, H M1995A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-18403rd editionNew Haven and London: Yale University Press 
Item 5 of 12Gomme, Andor and Walker, David1987Architecture of GlasgowSecond revised ednLondon: Lund Humphriespp69-71, 300
Item 6 of 12Grierson, H J C Letters of Sir Walter Scott  Volume covering 1811-14, pp34, 65, 368
Item 7 of 12Henderson, E1879Annals of Dunfermline  p569
Item 8 of 12Library of Willliam Stark Sale catalogue of Stark's Library   
Item 9 of 12New DNB New Dictionary of National Biography   
Item 10 of 12Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp10
Item 11 of 12RCAHMS1992Dundee on Record RCAHMSp21 Reconstruction drawing Of Dundee Asylum by D.M. Walker, showing the asylum's various building stages between 1812 and 1860 (1952).
Item 12 of 12Youngson, A J1966The Making of Classical Edinburgh Edinburgh University Presspp149-152

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder27 October 1961  'Architectural Historians' Conference: Papers Submitted to the Edinburgh Meeting' p787 - David Walker delivered a paper entitled 'Towards a New Style' at the SAH (UK) Conference in Edinburgh on 15-17 Sept 1961 that included discussion of Stark's work
Item 2 of 2Town Planning Review1928xiii pp69-71. Article by T Harold Hughes 'Edinburgh: An Early Ninteenth Century Town Planning Scheme'.

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3NASDunfermline Register  
Item 2 of 3NAS National Archives of ScotlandVarious accounts: imprestsCC8/8/142, f.315Testament of William Stark
Item 3 of 3National Library of ScotlandManuscript CollectionMS. 1758Memoir by R Gordon Stark.