James Playfair 1756 – 1794, the father of William Henry Playfair and the brother of Professor John Playfair, was the most extreme of all the architects working in the Revolutionary Neo Classical style at the end of the 18th century.
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Dates: Wed 5 September 2012
His tragic early death has led to his neglect, compared to his contemporary Sir John Soane who was influenced by Playfair’s style and purchased his drawings after his death.
Playfair’s built works included Melville Castle for Henry Dundas. However, it is his unexecuted works that best illustrate his genius. If his extraordinary scheme for a marine Villa at Ardkinglass had been built he would surely have been recognized as one of Scotland’s most influential architects.
In 1981 Philip Miller organized the successful traveling exhibition on the architect Decimus Burton, which has recently been revived in digital form. In 1984 he and his wife Patricia, a period interior design consultant, restored the principal part of Ampthill Park House in Bedfordshire and in the 1990s they relocated to the North East of Scotland to undertake the restoration of Playfair’s masterpiece, Cairness. They now live in Berwick upon Tweed where they are restoring a Regency Gothic Villa.
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