William Henry Playfair (1790-1857)

William Henry Playfair (1790-1857)

Architect

William Henry Playfair was  born in London on 7 July 1790, the son of James Playfair, architect. After the death of his father in 1794 he was sent to live in Edinburgh with his uncle, John Playfair (1748-1819). He trained as an architect, working in London and visiting France. He finally set up in Edinburgh and achieved fame after winning the competition to complete the quadrangle of Edinburgh University's Old College in 1815. He went on to design many notable buildings in Edinburgh in the classical style. His works include part of the New Town, the National Gallery, the Royal Scottish Academy, the National Monument and the Observatory on Calton Hill. These buildings earned Edinburgh the title of 'Athens of the North'. He was buried in the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh with a monument he designed himself.

Testament of William Henry Playfair

(National Records of Scotland, SC70/1/94 pp 415-423)

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