Ian Toplis trained as an architect during the 1950s, based in and around London. He was working on post-war building schemes to help rebuild the infrastructure when he became interested in Victorian architecture and specifically, George Gilbert Scott, at the point when many of his buildings were under threat of demolition. Like many of us, he had grown up surrounded by Scott’s buildings, including attending school in St Alban’s and then living in Harrow and later Buckinghamshire, Scott’s home county.
Whilst teaching architecture at Thames Polytechnic, later the University of Greenwich, Ian took a sabbatical to undertake a PhD researching the design and building of the Foreign Office which was subsequently published as a book in 1987. An acknowledged expert on the Foreign Office and on Scott, he lectured on both subjects, leading tours around the Foreign Office on open days, publishing papers and helping others with their research into Scott and his family.
On his retirement in 1992, he devoted his time to researching the life of Scott, hoping to publish this as a biography. With his untimely death in 2010, before the biography was completed, his family decided to publish his research online instead, to allow his work to reach a wider audience.
Ian’s published works on George Gilbert Scott include:
The Foreign Office, An Architectural History (Mansell Publishing, London and New York, 1987).
‘Sir Gilbert Scott’s Classical Work in Buckinghamshire’, Records of Buckinghamshire, Vol. 20, part 1, 1975, pp. 93-99.
His edition of Scott’s recollections of his early life was published in Recollections of Nineteenth-Century Buckinghamshire (Buckinghamshire Record Society, Aylesbury, 1998).