Great Scott left an ar­chi­tec­tural legacy

His­to­rian DON­ALD STAN­LEY looks at the im­por­tance of Buck­ing­hamshire ar­chi­tect Ge­orge Gil­bert Scott and how his fam­ily fol­lowed in his foot­steps

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NOSTALGIA -

CHIL­DREN of the par­son­ages of Buck­ing­hamshire who have risen to promi­nence in­clude the avi­a­tor Ge­of­frey de Hav­il­land, the mu­si­cian Richard Hickox and, in the case of Gaw­cott near Buck­ing­ham, the lead­ing ar­chi­tect of the Vic­to­rian age, Ge­orge Gil­bert Scott.

He com­menced by de­sign­ing a vicarage for his fa­ther and sub­se­quently an­other at Hilles­den, near his birth­place, where he also re­stored the church.

One of his grand­sons con­trib­uted the fin­ish­ing touch to Bea­cons­field’s Ro­man Catholic Church.

The Poor Law of 1836 had led to a de­mand for work­houses and the de­sign and build­ing of them, in­clud­ing one at Amer­sham, was Scott’s early spe­cial­ity.

Later he de­signed, built or ren­o­vated churches and cathe­drals through­out the United King­dom as well as in Ger­many, New­found­land, New Zealand and In­dia.

He also worked on Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral and St Ge­orge’s Chapel, Wind­sor Cas­tle and was ar­chi­tect to West­min­ster Abbey.

Some­times the ren­o­va­tion of cen­turies old churches gave rise to bitter con­tro­versy. In their work, Scott and oth­ers fea­tured the ‘green man’ with his face of leaves who had long ap­peared in ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal ar­chi­tec­ture de­spite pa­gan con­nec­tions.

Scott’s other notable build­ings in­cluded the Al­bert Me­mo­rial, the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice and the Mid­land Ho­tel at St Pan­cras Rail­way Sta­tion, which has be­come the frontage of the present rail­way sta­tion.

At first Scott fol­lowed the me­di­ae­val English Gothic style, but later, un­der the in­flu­ence of Pu­gin, who is best known for his in­te­rior de­sign of the Palace of West­min­ster, adopted the Gothic re­vival ar­chi­tec­ture favoured by Vic­to­ri­ans.

Scott is cred­ited with some 800 works, one of his few do­mes­tic build­ings be­ing 16 High Street, Che­sham.

Scott’s fa­ther had dab­bled in build­ing mat­ters and en­cour­aged the in­ter­est of the young man whose mar­riage would give rise to an ar­chi­tec­tural dy­nasty as sons, grand­sons and a great niece fol­lowed his pro­fes­sion.

The last, Elis­a­beth Scott, de­signed what is now known as the Royal Shake­speare Theatre, be­lieved to be the first im­por­tant pub­lic build­ing in Bri­tain de­signed by a woman. It has listed sta­tus.

A grand­son, Giles Gil­bert Scott, de­signed the GPO’s red tele­phone box to com­mem­o­rate the Sil­ver Ju­bilee of King Ge­orge V.

An­other, Adrian Gil­bert Scott, de­signed the GK Ch­ester­ton me­mo­rial tower of St Teresa’s, Bea­cons­field.

Scott him­self be­came Pres­i­dent of the Royal In­sti­tute of Bri­tish Ar­chi­tects and re­ceived its Gold Medal.

He was knighted for his work for the royal fam­ily.

Im­por­tance: Ge­orge Gil­bert Scott worked on Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral and West­min­ster Abbey (right); (be­low) his grand­son Giles de­signed the red tele­phone box

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