Christopher Gibbs, Avatar of ‘Swinging London,’ Dies at 80 – New York Times
Christopher Henry Gibbs was born on July 29, 1938, in Hatfield, about 20 miles north of London, to Sir Geoffrey Cokayne Gibbs and Helen Margaret (Leslie) Gibbs.
Even as a 14-year-old Etonian, he affected velvet slippers, a monocle and a silver-topped cane with blue tassels. A year later, he was expelled, as he later explained unapologetically, for “illicit drinking, panty raids of other boys’ rooms — that sort of thing.”
After studying, according to various biographies, at the Sorbonne and the University of Poitiers in France and lasting three months in the British army (he had polio as a child and was soon found to be medically unfit), his mother in 1958 staked him to a goodly sum (about $225,000 in today’s dollars) when he was 20 to open an antiques dealership in Chelsea.
That same year he began making buying trips to Morocco to scope out brass lamps, carpets and other merchandise for his store and his clients.
Mr. Gibbs played hard, but worked hard, too.
“The only thing I’ll say in my favor,” he recalled, “is that I was practically the only person I knew who actually went to work at nine o’clock in the morning, whether I’d been up to eight o’clock or not, because I had a job, my own business, and I realized that, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have any of those things.”
In 1972 he bought Davington Privy, a 12th-century former convent in Kent. After his mother died in 1980, he also took over his childhood home, the 19th-century manor house at Clifton Hampden in Oxfordshire. He sold it in 2000 after his 90-year-old housekeeper, Louise Wagland, the only other occupant, died.
He moved full time to Tangier in 2006. There he served as warden at the Anglican Church and tended his orchard of pomegranate trees and poisonous plants on a slope overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar.