Architecture expert leaves £1.4m fortune

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AN ACADEMIC who was recognised as a leading expert on Scottish architecture left a £1.4m fortune it has emerged.

John Gifford died in June aged 66 after falling ill while visiting family in Angus.

His published will has revealed he had amassed a £420,453 estate by the time of his death.

Gifford was born in London where his economist father worked in the Foreign Office and later for the United Nations in Geneva.

His mother came from a distinguished Kirriemuir family, the Lyells of Kinnordy.

Gifford, of Edinburgh, read Modern History at New College, Oxford, and carried out extensive research on Victorian restorations of English cathedrals.

He spent four years as an Inspector of Historic Buildings in the Scottish Office, during which time he published a book on East Lothian villages.

He later took up a post as principal researcher and historian for The Buildings of Scotland series.

His published will revealed he left £10,000 to friends and asked for gifts of £S5,000 to be given to the Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust, St Vincent’s Chapel in Edinburgh, and St Mary’s Cathedral in the capital.

Gifford had lived in the capital for more than 40 years was taken ill while visiting his brother.

He was survived by his partner David Bassett, who was gifted the bulk of his estate which was made up of a stocks and shares portfolio.

The Buildings of Scotland, for which Gifford was largely responsible, gained a considerable following and was popular with tourists and historians.

He also published a biography of William Adam, Scotland’s leading early 18th-century architect, and wrote about Adam’s House of Dun in Angus.

He was a major contributor to the online Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

Gifford’s friend the Very Rev Canon Allan Maclean paid tribute to him after his death.

He said:”Scottish architecture, was John’s life. His knowledge was extensive and he was generous with his time and information to researchers and the young.

“He was much involved in ensuring the Episcopal Church preserved its buildings through Canon 35 which governs all alterations to its buildings.

“John was a modest and devout man who preserved a twinkle in the eye and was blessed with a fine sense of humour.

“He often said to me with a broad smile, ‘There is not a graveyard in Scotland that I have not visited.’”

Dr Aonghus Mackechnie of Historic Scotland recognised the contribution made by Gifford to Scottish architectural history.

He said: “The Buildings of Scotland series was of a very high academic standard and John was meticulous in his research, unveiling many unknown facts.

“He had the ability and historical perspective to place Scottish architecture in a national context.

“John valued people on their own merit and was wonderfully open-minded both personally and intellectually.”

Gifford, who had worshipped daily at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, served as a member of the Edinburgh Diocesan Synod and of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

He served on the committee of the Scottish Georgian Society and was a member of the Buildings Committee of the National Trust for Scotland.

He was appointed MBE in 2005 and was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland in 2012.