George John Skipper (1856-1948)

G. J. Skipper was a leading Norwich-based architect, who, along with his rival Edward Boardman, dominated building in the town around the end of the century. He was born in East Dereham, training as an architect in London before returning to Norwich to work in his father's firm of builders. He set up his own practice in 1879. However, his career did not take off until 10 years later, when he was commissioned to design the Town Hall in Cromer, and subsequently seaside hotels there. Much of his best work is in Norwich itself, dating from just before 1900 onwards (see the separate page). His own office, with scenes in terracotta of architects and builders at work, is now part of the department store Jarrolds. In 1899 he built the Arts and Crafts style Royal Arcade. His big Norwich Union headquarters building (Surrey Street) dates from 1903-4, and marks his change to Edwardian Baroque. Certainly there is a good mix of classical and Italian features in the Norwich Union building, which has giant ionic columns on the outside, and statues of Bishop Talbot of Oxford and Sir Samuel Bignold (respectively founder of the Amicable Society and second founder of the Norwich Union) by Chavalliaud, all in Clipsham stone. Inside is a highly decorated hall with much marble, originally intended for Westminster Cathedral. Among Skipper's other buildings in Norwich we can mention the Corinthian- columned London and Provincial Bank (now a bookshop), built in 1907.

Royal Arcade, Norwich, by Skipper

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