James Gibbs connection
James Gibbs, born in Scotland in 1682, was the leading architect of his day. He was brought up a Roman Catholic and went to Rome as a candidate for the priesthood. However, within a year he entered the studio of a leading baroque architect where he acquired a secure training. He returned to London in 1709.
Initially he was favoured by Tory and catholic patrons before becoming a leading architect of the early 18th century. He is responsible for buildings such as the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London and the Ratcliffe Library, Oxford.
There is speculation that Gibbs may be responsible for the memorials in the Shireburne Chapel to Sir Nicholas Shireburne and his wife and that to Peregrine Widdrington . The memorial to Peregrine's eldest brother, Lord Widdrington in Nunnington Church, near York was recently restored and is signed by Gibbs. This bears remarkable similarity to the memorial to Sir Nicholas and Lady Catherine. There are also similarities between known work by Gibbs and the memorial to Peregrine Widdrington.
In addition, Mary, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk ( and the daughter and heiress of Sir Nicholas) placed both the memorials in the Shireburne Chapel and it was Gibbs who designed her London house. Catholic families of this period maintained their catholic links through their marriages, their choice of artists and architects and their use of language. The memorial to Peregrine Widdrington is rich in symbolism and a superb example of "Jacobite culture."