Cecil Armstrong Gibbs (Composer)
Danbury Church (slate plaque, erected April 2000)
Cecil Armstrong-Gibbs was born in 1889 in Great Baddow. Despite the death of his mother in 1891, Gibbs had a privileged upbringing by maternal aunts and nurses. From the age of three, an aunt noticed he had a talent for music and Gibbs wrote his first song at five years old.
Gibbs attended preparatory school in Brighton before obtaining a scholarship at Winchester College and later on Trinity College in Cambridge studying history. During his time at Cambridge, he also studied organ and piano, however he discovered his future did not lie in musical performance.
After a short teaching career, Gibbs studied at the Royal College of Music under Adrian Boult and Vaughan Williams, and later taught there.
In 1919, Gibbs moved with his family back to Danbury, where he built a house named Crossings. While there, he founded the Danbury Choral Society, an amateur choir he was heavily involved in until his death. During this time, Gibbs also adjudicated at competitive musical festivals and became one of the most well-known judges in England. He played a key role in the music of the Festival of Britain in 1951 and wrote three symphonies and a lot of chamber music.
Gibbs lived in Danbury until the beginning of World War II, when Crossings was requisitioned as a military hospital. Gibbs and his wife relocated to the Lake District during this time. As competitive musical festivals ceased during the war, he still continued to be involved in musical performance. After the war, Gibbs returned to Little Baddow where he lived in a cottage named Cottage in the Bush.
After his retirement in 1952, Gibbs continued to write music. He died from pneumonia in May 1960 and is buried in Danbury church yard.