Basic Biographical Details

Name: Wimperis, Simpson & Guthrie
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1925
Ended: c. 1946
Bio Notes: John Thomas Wimperis was born in 1829 and commenced practice in London some time before 1866. About 1870 he was commissioned to begin the progressive enlargement of Invercauld for ___ Farquharson, which was completed in 1875, and from that year onwards he was particularly associated with the Grosvenor estate in London, initially speculatively for Mark Patrick & Sons, builders. He was admitted FRIBA on 19 February 1877, his proposers being Thomas Cundy, Charles Henry Cooke and Raphael Brandon, for some or all of whom he may have worked: his nomination paper gives no details. In 1887 he was appointed one of the Grosvenor Estate's approved architects, and in that capacity was the selected by the Earl of Aberdeen to design a house at 27 Grosvenor Square, the Earl's original intention to have it designed in his own estate office having been vetoed by the Duke of Westminster. Although Wimperis and the Earl remained on good terms he does not seem to have designed anything on the Scottish estates. In 1889 Wimperis took into partnership William Henry Arber, born 1849, who had been articled to him in 1866, had remained as an assistant, and had been admitted ARIBA on 4 March 1878, his proposers being Wimperis, Cooke and Arthur Cates. He became FRIBA on 4 December 1893 his proposers being Octavius Hansard, Professor Robert Kerr and Wimperis.

In February 1882 seven years before Arber became a partner, Wimperis took into the practice as an articled pupil his much younger cousin Edmund Walter Wimperis, born in 1865, the son of Edmund Morison Wimperis, watercolourist and brother of the playwright Arthur Wimperis. He remained with the practice as an assistant, attended the Architectural Association and passed the qualifying in 1889, his proposers being Wimperis, Thomas Verity, another of the Grosvenor Estate architects and Cole Alfred Adams.

The elder Wimperis retired in 1898, at which point, or earlier, the younger Wimperis became a partner. The elder Wimperis died on 21 December 1904, Arber died in the same year, but a few years before that the younger Wimperis had taken into partnership John Reginald Best, born 1866. Best had been articled to Cole Alfred Adams in 1883 and had also had some experience as a clerk of works to the scholar architect John Alfred Gotch. He had been in the Wimperis office and attended the Architectural Association prior to passing the qualifying exam in 1889 and being admitted ARIBA on 3 June of that year, his proposers being Adams, Verity and Herbert Duncan Appleton. He had subsequently worked in partnership with Charles Ashton Callon before being taken into partnership by Wimperis.

The Wimperis & Best partnership seems not to have been a success and was dissolved in or about 1910 when Edmund Wimperis succeeded Colonel Estace Balfour as architect to the Grosvenor Estate.

In 1913 Wimperis replaced Best by taking into partnership William Begg Simpson, born 1880, the son of an Aberdonian farmer, described by his obituarist D F Fyffeas 'a man of amazing vitality and cheerfulness of spirit'. He was articled to Alexander Marshall Mackenzie 1896-1901, working alongside Mackenzie's son, Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie who was a year older. He attended classes at Aberdeen School of Art from 1896 until 1902 when he moved to London as assistant to Read & MacDonald, both of whom had worked for Sir Ernest George. After a period with Arthur Conran Blomfield, Simpson joined Wimperis as an assistant in 1911, making his name with 26 Grosvenor Street in a neo-Georgian manner influenced by Lutyens.

The partnership of Wimperis and Simpson was renewed at the end of the First World War and in 1923 Wimperis & Simpson achieved still wider fame by winning the limited competition for the rebuilding of Fortnum & Masons. In 1925 Leonard Rome Guthrie was taken into partnership to help with the Grosvenor House project for which Lutyens was consultant, the practice name now becoming Wimperis Simpson & Guthrie. Born in 1880, Guthrie was educated at Glasgow High School and articled to William Leiper from 1895 to 1900, during which period he studied under William James Anderson at Glasgow School of Art. He won the Thomson Scholarship in 1899, enabling him to spend eight months travelling in Italy, Spain, France and Germany the following year. On his return in 1901 he spent some time travelling in Scotland, preparing drawings of Scottish gardens for Harry Inigo Triggs' book 'Formal Gardens of England and Scotland', and in the same year became head draughtsman to William Flockhart, marrying one of Flockhart's two daughters. He left Flockhart in 1907 but stayed in London to commence practice on his own account at 3 Gray's Inn Square. He passed the qualifying exam in 1909 and was admitted ARIBA on 28 February 1910, his proposers being Flockhart, Andrew Noble Prentice and Edwin Alfred Rickards. He specialised in domestic architecture and landscaping, but was also appointed architect to the Royal Institution in 1913. He was elected FRIBA on 8 June 1925, his proposers being Edward Prioleau Warren, James Glen Sivewright Gibson and William Curtis Green.

Edmund Wimperis died in retirement in 1946. The practice was continued by Simpson and Guthrie with Douglas James Fyffe who had been taken into partnership in 1931. Guthrie retired in 1953 and died in April 1958 and Simpson, who had retired two years earlier in 1951 on 22 July 1959.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 161, South Molton Street, London, EnglandBusiness1925After 1939 

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 12William Begg Simpson1925 Partner 
Item 2 of 12Edmund Walter Wimperis1925 Partner 
Item 3 of 12Leonard Rome Guthrie1925 Partner 
Item 4 of 12Douglas James Fyffe19251931Assistant 
Item 5 of 12Thomas Shepherd Morris19261928AssistantFor 1 1/2 years
Item 6 of 12Alexander Robert Fordyce AndersonApril 1929After January 1932Assistant 
Item 7 of 12Douglas James Fyffe1931After 1951Partner 
Item 8 of 12John OgilvieAfter 1931Before 1937AssistantFor 15 months only
Item 9 of 12John Patterson1934 * Assistant(?) 
Item 10 of 12Maurice Joseph Brown19351936Assistant 
Item 11 of 12William Robertson AnnanJuly 1935September 1936Assistant 
Item 12 of 12Phipps TurnbullMay 1938August 1938Assistant 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice 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 51925Fortnum & MasonPiccadilly LondonEngland 
Item 2 of 5After 1925Dupplin CastleForteviot PerthshireScotlandAlterations
Item 3 of 51926Grosvenor HousePark Lane LondonEnglandLeonard Rome Guthrie responsible, with Edwin Landseer Lutyens as consultant architect
Item 4 of 51932Flats, Brook House site  LondonEnglandAppointed for job
Item 5 of 51935 or 1936North Scottish Regional Broadcasting StationBurghead MorayshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 1Survey of London Survey of London  v39 & 40

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder18 April 1958  Obituary of Guthrie
Item 2 of 3Builder14 August 1959  Obituary of Simpson
Item 3 of 3RIBA JournalNovember 1959 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary of Simpson