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Hamilton, Thomas

Hamilton, Thomas (1784–1858). Distinguished Scots Neo-Classical architect. He worked mostly in Edinburgh, and success began when in 1818 he won the competition to design the Burns Monument, Alloway, Ayrshire (1820–3), an open circular temple freely adapted from the choragic monument of Lysicrates (334 bc), illustrations of which had appeared in Volume I of Stuart and Revett's Antiquities of Athens (1762). He was commissioned to design a second Burns monument, for the south side of Regent Road, Edinburgh, on the edge of Calton Hill, this time an enlarged version of the Lysicrates monument, with a ring of columns set round a cylindrical cella which once contained a statue (1822) of the poet by John Flaxman (1755–1826) now in the National Portrait Gallery: it was built 1830–2. Hamil-ton's Royal High School (1825–9), on the southern slope of Calton Hill opposite the Burns Monument, one of the most brilliant essays of the Greek Revival, is of international importance, with its Theseion-like temple, flanking colonnades, pylon-like pavilions, and stepped platforms recalling Haller's designs for Walhalla. Hamilton placed windows high in the walls of the main ‘temple’ (one of the main difficulties with the Greek Revival was how to adapt the windowless type of the Greek temple for modern use) and treated the composition in a Picturesque manner. Other Edinburgh buildings by Hamilton include the Orphan Hospital at the Dean Bridge (1831–3— now the Dean Gallery of the National Galleries of Scotland, designed by Farrell (1996–9) ), in which the high chimneys suggest the Baroque of Vanbrugh, and the elegant Neo-Classical Royal College of Physicians, Queen Street (1844–6). He also designed the George IV Bridge, providing the southern approach to the Old Town (1827–34). Outside Edinburgh he designed the Greek Doric John Knox Memorial, Glasgow Necropolis (1825), the new assembly-rooms in Ayr (1828–31—with an elegant steeple suggesting an elongated version of a design by Gibbs), and various schools, villas, and churches. Although a distinguished Greek Revivalist, Hamilton's essays in the Gothic, Romanesque, and Jacobethan styles are less impressive.


Colvin (1995);
Crook (1972a);
Gifford,, McWilliam,, & and Walker (1984);
Gavin Stamp ;
Rock (1984);
Youngson (1966)

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