Thomas Scott (grandfather) 1747-1821
Thomas Scott produced an edited version of The Bible
which ran to seven volumes. This so-called commentary was the ideal reference for any sermon and, as such, was widely known and used by the preachers of the day. Small sections of text were discussed and analysed in considerable depth and illustrated by maps and plans. He thus became known as ‘The Commentator’. Thomas originally came from Lincolnshire and, after many years in London as the Chaplain of the Locke Hospital, became curate of Weston Underwood, near Olney in north Buckinghamshire in the late eighteenth century. By 1801, Thomas was the vicar of the tiny Buckinghamshire hamlet of Aston Sandford, where his sermons attracted such large congregations that a tent was erected outside one of the windows of the little church so that those who could not get inside could still hear him preach.
William Scott (grandfather-in-law)
William Scott of Grimblethorpe Hall, Lincolnshire, had a daughter, Mary, who married John Oldrid of Boston, Lincolnshire. Their oldest daughter, Fanny, married Thomas, the eldest of Gilbert Scott's brothers in 1830, their son, John Henry Oldrid, married his sister, Euphemia, in 1833, and eventually Scott married Caroline, the youngest Oldrid child, in 1838.
Thomas Scott (father) 1780-1835
Gilbert Scott's father, also Thomas, the fourth child of ‘The Commentator’, was born in London in 1780. His appointment, in 1806, as Perpetual Curate to the village of Gawcott, which was about a mile and half from the town of Buckingham, was probably due to his father's local connections. However, there was no parsonage at Gawcott, so Scott’s father designed one in 1809 using Willmore of Buckingham as his builder. Gilbert Scott's father clearly had an interest in designing buildings and when his church developed structural faults and had to be demolished in 1827, he produced a design for a plain classical building, with Willmore again as the builder. His son later said that his father had little idea about architecture and Willmore was allowed to do more or less as he pleased. Until the house at Gawcott was finished, the Scott’s lived in the parsonage house at Buckingham, where their first three children were born. They moved into their new house in April 1810 and George Gilbert Scott was born on 13 July 1811.
To supplement his stipend, Thomas Scott advertised that he ran a small private academy to educate young men who wished to enter the Church of England. These students lived with the Scott family, which meant that Mr. and Mrs Scott had little time to devote to their own children. The older boys, Thomas and John, were expected to educate the younger ones and Scott recalls that he was thrashed by John when he stumbled over his Latin.
The family’s main contact with local society was through the evangelicals of Buckingham. Every Sunday, a group made the mile-and-a-half journey from the town to hear Thomas preach at Gawcott. They included bankers, farmers, physicians and other leading members of Buckingham society. Several of them used to stay on after the service to have lunch with the Scotts.
‘I have no doubt you will rise to the head of your profession’. These were the prophetic words uttered by a family friend in 1827 when he heard that the young Gilbert Scott was training to be an architect, but they were quickly countered by his father: ‘Oh no, his abilities are not sufficient for that’. Was this the put down that set in motion Scott's determination to succeed and continually push the amount of work possible?
While Scott was working with Henry Roberts, and on a visit to Gawcott in 1833, his father was appointed the Vicar of Wappenham in Northamptonshire, about eleven miles north of Gawcott. Scott says that ‘being too much engaged’, presumably with Roberts, to do a dilapidatious survey himself, he recommended Voysey, ‘who did this most efficiently’. In fact the survey was so efficient that his father had to build a new vicarage for Wappenham, and Scott got his first architectural commission. He went with his father to ‘reconnoitre’ and ‘supplied him with a very ugly design founded on one of Mr. Roberts' plans & which his old builder Mr. Wilmore, took care to spoil and slight, as much as he thought necessary for his own purposes.’
Scott's father suddenly died on 24 February 1835, at the age of 54. The funeral took place at Gawcott a week later and his mother, with his five brothers and sisters, would soon have to move out of the rectory at Wappenham that he had designed, to make way for the new rector. Scott seems to have panicked when he realised that as the oldest un-married son, he would have to support the rest of the family, the oldest of whom, William Langston Scott (1817-88), was seventeen.
Scott wrote that ‘I must adopt my course with promptitude or my chances in life were gone’, and was spurred into writing a circular ‘to every influential friend of my fathers I could think of informing them that I had commenced practice & begging their patronage’. He also decided ‘to quit Kempthorne’ and to obtain workhouse commissions on his own account in the areas where his father was known, but to stay on in Carlton Chambers.
Euphemia Scott (mother) 1785-1854
Scott's mother was born in the West Indies, as Euphemia Lynch. Her mother's family, the Gilbert's, were well-known West Indian plantation owners. Scott’s great-grandfather, Nathaniel Gilbert, was President of the Assembly of Antigua, introduced Methodism to Antigua and claimed descent from the famous Elizabethan seaman Sir Humphry Gilbert. It was from this distinguished lineage that Gilbert Scott received what was in fact his middle name. Mrs. Scott produced thirteen children in all from 1807, when she was twenty-one, over a twenty year period. Three died in infancy, so the burden of supporting ten children on the £100 which had been provided for the Curacy of Gawcott meant that Thomas Scott needed an additional income. The only wealth in the family derived from the plantation in Antigua held by the Gilberts, but after laws were introduced in 1834 to pay the freed slaves on the same basis as freemen, that income disappeared.
His mother had died in 1854 at Wappenham, but he had had rarely time to visit her there.
I feel a pang of remorse at not having acted so affectionate a part as I ought. My business so absorbed me throughout all these years as to leave hardly a shred of time for anything else! I most deeply regret this.
Samuel King (uncle) ?-1856
In 1826, Scott moved out of his family home and went to stay with his aunt and uncle King, at Latimer, near Chorleywood, south Buckinghamshire. Thomas Scott seems to have been concerned that he was not able to provide an adequate education for his third son, and his youngest sister’s husband, Samuel King, undertook to tutor the young Scott. He was, like all the male members of the family, a clergyman, but unlike most of Scott's close relations who were Bible scholars, he had very wide interests and was a ‘man of multifarious resources’. He was educated at Cambridge and had held curacies at Hartwell and Stone, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and was vicar of Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, before becoming incumbent of Latimer. According to Scott, he was an astronomer, a wood turner, a glass painter, a brass founder and a devotee of natural science.
The Kings lived in the fine eighteenth century rectory and, as they had no children of their own, they were able to devote considerable attention to the young Scott. Elizabeth King, the ‘Commentator's’ daughter, was also a lady ‘of considerable talents’ and had helped her father with the later edition of The Bible
. The young Scott was now in the highly attractive surroundings of the Chilterns with its hills, trees and watercourses. Everything was on a different scale to the dreary farmland around Gawcott and he had two intelligent and likeable people to guide him towards his ambition to become an architect.
The Reverend Samuel King, who had done so much to help him to become an architect, died in Jersey in 1856, having left Latimer in 1850.
John Scott (uncle) 1779-1834
Reverend John Scott was the vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Lowgate, Hull, and the eldest son and biographer of the ‘Commentator’. Scott had returned to Gawcott in July 1831 and then set out on what he called ‘the longest journey I had yet taken a visit to my uncle at Hull’. This seems to have been a very circuitous route to Hull. He travelled first to Peterborough where, on the 8 July, he sketched the cathedral, then Stamford and Grantham on 9 July, then Newark-on-Trent followed by Lincoln. He was in Howden by 19 July, and then northwards to Selby, where the next day he made his first sketch of the abbey. Two days later he went north to York, and then travelled twenty-eight miles eastwards to Bridlington where he sketched the priory on 24 July. From there he went southwards to Hull, via Beverley, where he sketched the minster.
He eventually reached Hull, in August 1831, to stay with his uncle. Hull, at that time, was a busy port with many of its fine eighteenth century buildings still standing. He sketched his uncle's fifteenth century church, which has a seventeenth century tower and now has later additions by Scott himself in the 1860's. His visit to Hull ‘was a very merry one & I formed a more intimate friendship with my cousin John which has lasted ever since’.
Thomas Scott (brother) 1807-80
Thomas was educated at Cambridge and was then appointed curate of Goring-on-Thames. Scott stayed with him when he finished his articles in 1831. The previous year Thomas had married the eldest of the Oldrid girls, Fanny, and their son, another Thomas, was born the same year. At Goring, Scott ‘sketched a little among the old churches, &c.’, including his brother's church, which is an impressive Norman building.
Samuel Scott (brother) 1819-65
The death of his brother, Samuel King Scott on 9 June 1865, was a tremendous blow to Scott. He was seven years younger than Scott and after serving his articles with William Stowe at Buckingham, stayed with the Scotts’ at Spring Gardens while he continued his training at a London hospital. It was probably due to the Hull Scotts' friendship with ‘a highly respected Physician’ in Hull, Dr. William Hulme Bodley, who had moved to Brighton, that Samuel Scott obtained a post as surgeon at the public dispensary there. Maybe there was a deal between the Scott and Bodley families as it was shortly afterwards that Bodley's son, George Frederick, entered Scott's office and lodged with the Scotts’ at Avenue Road. But the two families became even closer linked in 1846 when George Frederick's sister, Georgina Bodley, married Samuel Scott, who eventually bought his way into general practice in Brighton.
Georgina and Samuel had fourteen children, one of whom, Bernard, was the father of Elisabeth Scott (1898-1972), who was the architect of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon, in 1928. Samuel was a ‘stout man’, who worked hard ‘early & late - Day & night for eleven months in the year’. Scott first became aware that Samuel was not well in April 1865, when he had what seems to have been a heart attack. He died two months later and was buried in Hove Churchyard near to their sister's grave.
Euphemia Scott (sister) 1812-65
His oldest sister, Euphemia, the wife of John Henry Oldrid who had just become the vicar of Alford in Lincolnshire, was ‘suffering from a disease which they say must be fatal and is of the most painful nature!’ It seems that she had received a blow in the chest at the 1862 Exhibition, which, Scott said, turned to cancer and after years of agony, died on 8 February 1865, twelve days after Scott’s son, Albert Henry, had suddenly died.
Hardly had Scott laid Albert to rest in Petersham churchyard when he heard the not unexpected news that his younger sister Euphemia had died on 8 February 1865. Her husband was Caroline's brother John Henry Oldrid. Euphemia was buried in the little churchyard of Rigsby, one mile to the west of Alford. Scott attended the funeral and designed another fine memorial to her over her grave. Again it consists of two slabs of polished granite, with the red one over the grey. It is a dignified and touching memorial and shows that Scott, when left to himself could produce restrained work which relied on materials and form for its effect rather than ornament. With Euphemia's death Scott felt that:
one of the very dearest companions of my early life is taken from me & one of the most loving relatives & best of religious counsellors though alas too little consulted.
John Henry Oldrid, however, did not seem to sustain the same sense of loss as only eighteen months after his wife's death, he married Alice Gee, who was half his age and whose father was a banker in Boston. Scott carried out work on Alford Church for him between 1867 and 1869, which included adding a new north aisle, heightening the tower and providing a new font. After Caroline's death in 1872, he seems to have lost touch with her brother and his new wife.
Mary Jane Scott (sister) 1821-64
In January 1864 he received word that his younger sister, Mary Jane Scott, was dying. He had never found the time to go and see her since their mother died ten years earlier even though he knew that she was in poor health. Eventually, as she was dying, their physician brother, Samuel King Scott, invited her to Brighton. Scott rushed down to see Mary but it was all too late; she had almost lost the power of speech and had to write on a slate the words, ‘Be of good cheer thy sins be forgiven thee’. He saw her the night before she died, but when he returned in the morning of 22 January, her ‘sweet soul had taken its flight’, just before her forty-third birthday. Mary’s funeral at Hove churchyard was a great reunion of Scott’s family which he described as:
A peaceful and pleasant family party for though the occasion were mournful their seemed a halo of sacred cheerfulness to hover around every memory of our departed sister. I confess however that when alone my feelings were very different & for some time I suffered severe depression which disappears when I was in company – I believe I shed more tears for my sweet sister than I have ever shed in a great time before. I was in fact haunted with my own neglectful conduct - & only consoled by the assurance of my two surviving sisters that she attributed it wholly to the necessities of my peculiar practise … [I feel] like an awakening from a feverish dream & have almost madly wondered where I have been & what I been doing. I earnestly advise young persons diligently to keep up communication with their relatives – You do not seem to need it at the time & feel as if you could do it at any time but when death makes a breach in the family circle then it is [then] that ones neglect comes back upon the conscience in a way which is almost overwhelming. It seemed at one time as if it would affect my reason.
Some measure of Scott’s feelings can be gained from the simple and dignified memorial that he designed to mark his sister’s grave. It is a polished red granite slab with an elaborate incised cross on top and an inscription around the edge, placed on a white marble base with a foliated edge.
Caroline Oldrid (wife) 1811-72
His cousins, the Oldrid’s, used to spend their Christmas holidays with the Scotts’ at Gawcott. In his last year at Edmeston’s, 1830, he first met the youngest sister, Caroline Oldrid. He met her again when staying with the Kings at Latimer for a month and she became ‘the constant companion’ of his walks. But he returned to Gawcott in May 1831, with a sadness which was detected by his sister as related to his separation from Caroline. His mother heard about this and ‘absolutely prohibited’ any further advances to Caroline as she felt that it:
would appear like to be a conspiracy to transfer Mr. Oldrid's property to our family; my oldest brother being already married to the sister and my sister Euphemia engaged to the brother.
In 1831, on his return journey from seeing his uncle in Hull, Scott travelled some sixty or seventy miles to reach Boston to stay ‘for a day or two’ with the Oldrids. Perhaps he went via Louth, as a drawing of the majestic church with its 295 feet high Perpendicular steeple was exhibited the following year at The Royal Academy by a ‘G. Scott’, and he does say that he ‘got a picture one year (I don't recall trying again) into the exhibition’. At Boston he again saw Caroline, and they went on a picnic to Tattershall Castle. This great fifteenth century brick keep is twelve miles north-west of Boston. Scott would have already been familiar with some of the fireplaces, which are shown in the first volume of Pugin's Specimens
, but he did not sketch the building. Perhaps his mind was other things. He says his feelings towards Caroline ‘seemed about to revive but I supressed them’, although he did drink wine with her ‘out of the same silver cup with an indescribable feeling of pleasure’. Scott, in the meantime, had much more justification to expand his practice, when just after his father's death his mother removed her objections to his involvement with Caroline Oldrid. He saw her at Gawcott, when she was staying with her brother, presumably while Scott was visiting the area to establish the requirements for the five workhouses he was proposing to build. They decided to get married, but resigned themselves to a long engagement as ‘I was not in any fit position for marriage’. From comparative poverty at the time of the death of his father in February 1835, Scott some three years later, at the age of twenty-seven, would have had an income approaching £2,000 a year. It is not surprising that he now decided that he had sufficient means to overcome his mother's reservations about the Scotts having designs on the Oldrid money, and he and Caroline decided to get married.
George Gilbert Scott and Caroline Oldrid were married at St. Botolph's the great parish church of Boston, on 5 June 1838. John Henry Oldrid, the bride's brother, came all the way from Gawcott to conduct the service, and his wife Euphemia, Scott's sister, was one of the witnesses. The other witness was Caroline's father, John Oldrid, who was a prominent citizen of Boston, having founded a drapery business in 1804, which still bears his name, and in the year after Caroline's marriage became its 302nd Mayor.
After the wedding Scott and his bride set out on a tour ‘by Southwell & Matlock & then to Malvern & Bristol & home by way of Oxford’. Apart from a sketch of Sleaford Church which he inscribed ‘June 5th 1838 The happiest day in all the year (the day that I was married!)’ and a sketch of Boston Guildhall, he made no further sketches during the tour, perhaps out of consideration of his companion. The young couple probably travelled in some style, staying at watering places with new grand hotels. Matlock was probably included in the itinerary for this reason, as it contained hardly any old architecture but was rapidly developing as a spa town, surrounded by attractive scenery. Southwell, on the other hand, is of great architectural interest with its cathedral. It was a very large parish church in Scott's day, and then, as now, dominates the little town. He would have seen the powerful twelfth century Norman nave with its great cylindrical piers and round-arched clerestory and nave, but in view of his later architecture, it must have been the east end and the chapter house which particularly excited him. These areas are classic examples of what was to become Scott's favourite thirteenth century Early English Gothic style. The east end was built between 1234 and 1241 and is a great display of structural vaulting and lancet windows, while the Chapter House, which was started in 1288, particularly at its entrance areas, is a dazzling display of naturalistic foliage carving. Externally, the bays of the Chapter House have all the appearances of one of Scott's churches of the 1860's with geometric tracery to the windows, gabled buttresses and arched brackets to the parapet. The Rood screen, or pulpitum, built between 1320 and 1340, is also another excellent example of its period, this time in the Decorated style, with its double carved, or ogee, arch forms, and a massive amount of carved decoration. The main difference between the church today and what the Scotts’ saw in 1838 was that the twin western towers then had flat roofs, while now they are covered with little pyramids. These were built in 1880, following the design that they had before 1711, when they were destroyed by fire.
At Malvern, the Scott's would have found another rapidly developing spa town set on the slopes of the famous hills, but with few old buildings, apart from the priory church. This is a large building with a very ornate mid-fifteenth century Perpendicular exterior, pierced parapets, much panelling and very large windows, not unlike some of the great Perpendicular churches that Scott had already seen, and presumably admired, in places such as Hull and Coventry. Internally, the church has the characteristic lightness and delicacy of structure, typical of the period, but the most impressive part of Malvern Priory is the great set of medieval stained-glass windows. These date between 1440 and 1506, and must have reminded Scott of his native Hillesden, with its glass of the same period. The building was in dreadful state of repair in 1833 and presumably remained so until 1860, when Scott himself carried out a very sensitive restoration, keeping it very much as when he first saw it on his honeymoon, twenty-eight years previously.
Bristol was the largest city, outside London, that Scott had ever seen when he went there with Caroline in 1838. The loss of the slave trade, as Scott knew from his own family's experience, was bringing a decline in prosperity and the rise of Liverpool as a rival for Britain's gateway to the west, meant that strenuous efforts, inspired by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, were being made at the time to retain Bristol's position as the second port of Britain. Only about a month before, on 22 May 1838, Brunel's ‘Great Western’ had steamed into Bristol's new docks after a triumphant Atlantic crossing. The Scotts could not have failed to notice the construction of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the preparations for the coming of the railway from Paddington, including the building of the grandiose Royal Western Hotel, which was probably not sufficiently complete to entertain the newly-weds.
However, it was probably the numerous medieval buildings of the city that most interested Scott, and of these, he undoubtedly, regardless of any consideration for Caroline, would have inspected St. Mary Redcliffe, which was described as the ‘most famous parish in England’, by Elizabeth I. This great church was started at the beginning of the fourteenth century and displays all the exuberance of ornament of the Decorated period, continuing on into the Perpendicular period during the second half of the fourteenth century. The great spire, 292 feet tall, was not so magnificent when Scott saw it, as it had been struck by lightning about a hundred years after it was completed and remained truncated until 1872, when it was restored to its full height. The most striking feature of the exterior is the most ornate entrance to the hexagonal north porch of 1325, while the interior of the church has the lightness and airiness typical of its period.
The other important building which Scott would certainly have inspected was the cathedral. Unlike St. Mary Redcliffe which, apart from the spire, is today largely as Scott saw it, the cathedral has changed radically since 1838. Scott saw only the chancel, transepts and central tower, and it had temporarily lost its cathedral status in 1836. Between 1868 and 1888, the medieval building was doubled in size with the addition of a nave and western towers to the designs of G. E. Street, and in 1897 it regained its cathedral status. Street's work involved moving the north cloister walk and removing old houses, some of which were medieval, that were standing close to the west side of the church when Scott first saw the building. The main part was the chancel is a fine example of the earliest period of the Decorated style, having been designed in 1298. It has a magnificent lierne vault, a huge east window with flowing tracery, and a fine reredos of ogee arches. The transepts and crossing appear to match the chancel although here the basic structure is Norman.
In view of his later career, it is astonishing that the first recorded visit of Scott to Oxford was on the return journey of his honeymoon, when he was nearly twenty-seven years of age. This great treasure house of medieval architecture was less than twenty miles from Gawcott, and he was even nearer when he stayed with his brother, Thomas, at Goring. However, the family seemed to have little connection with Oxford as Buckinghamshire was in the diocese of Lincoln at the time, and his father and uncles had all been undergraduates at Cambridge.
Oxford was still very much a tight-packed city within its medieval walls, extending from the castle on the west to Magdalen College in the east. Extensions beyond the walls had later taken place along the main roads to the north as far as Banbury Road with some villa development, and the foot of Headington Hill to the east. There were no new grand spa-like hotels in Oxford for the young couple to stay in, only traditional coaching inns. In view of his apparent propensity for Perpendicular architecture, Scott would have probably inspected All Souls, Magdalen and Merton Colleges, and St. Mary's Church, all of which he would have been familiar with, from Pugin's Specimens
. He may also have visited the cathedral, which is tucked away behind the massive buildings of Christ Church College. In later years, he was carry out an extensive restoration of the cathedral and is credited with having brought this neglected building into prominence.
From Oxford the couple returned ‘home’ to London. In fact they had no-where to go, so at first they stayed at lodgings or apartments, but at the end of 1838 they were able to move into their own house. This was 20, Spring Gardens, off Charing Cross. Scott was very familiar with this part of London. Hungerford Market was a few yards to the east, while Robert's office in Suffolk Street was equally close in the opposite direction and Carlton Chambers only a few minutes walk further on.
The year after the Scotts moved into Spring Gardens, their first child was born, who according to family tradition, was named after his father, George Gilbert, and two years later in 1841, John Oldrid, named after Caroline's father, was born. Although his partnership with Moffatt
, at first, thrived, Scott comes over as cautious and uncertain over money matters. It was Caroline, with a strong business sense inherited from her father, that realised the financial difficulties that Moffatt was gradually leading the practice into. She appreciated the futility of Moffatt's speculations to restore the fortunes of the practice. Unless she acted it would have been left to her husband's prudence and her own thrift to rescue Moffatt from the impending disaster.
At length Mrs. Scott ‘took the bull by the horns’: She drove to the office while I was out of town asked to see M. privately & told him that I had made up my mind to dissolve our partnership. He was tremendously astounded but behaved well &, the ice thus broken, I followed it up vigourously.
All this seems to have taken place after Scott's return through the Netherlands from his third visit to Germany and, by the end of 1845, it was agreed to dissolve the partnership but to delay ‘the actual gazetting of the dissolution’ until the end of 1846.
In 1857, the year after they moved to Hampstead, Scott indulged Caroline by taking her and the two eldest boys to see the celebrated Manchester Exhibition of Art Treasures. This was held in a massive specially built exhibition building at Old Trafford. He said that:
My dear wife was fond of drawing and had a great taste for water colours. Had this been fostered she would have been quite an artist but her health interfered much & though we often talked of getting her some high-class professional aid we never did.
He had just completed his entry for the Government Offices competition in March, and presumably while awaiting the results which were not announced until late June, he felt justified in having a week off work to take a trip to Manchester with his family. This trip was ‘one of the most agreeable we ever had’. In spite of the presence of his two aspiring architect sons, Scott largely managed to avoid anything of architectural interest and made no sketches. At the exhibition ‘My dear wife usually had a chair & was wheeled from picture to picture Her delight in the objects of art was unbounded & untiring’. Wheel-chairs were provided by the organisers ‘at a moderate charge’.
Among smaller enjoyments we had always a most merry luncheon in the open air & the provisions being very good though plain & our party always merry & genial we enjoyed even these interludes most thoroughly.
On their return journey the Scotts stayed a night at Lichfield, where Scott, it seems, was preparing a scheme for the restoration of the cathedral, which, a few months later, led to him being appointed cathedral architect in place of his friend, Sidney Smirke. With business calling, Scott and his family then seem to have returned directly to London. Perhaps he was keen to work out his proposals for Lichfield Cathedral, but it is just as likely that Caroline was anxious to return to the younger boys.
Caroline had never been in good health since the birth of John Oldrid, twenty-nine years earlier and, according to Scott, ‘was perhaps too stout’. She recovered from the ‘very alarming attack’ in the spring of 1871 but in the December ‘she was attacked by very acute rheumatism in the right shoulder, which was followed by a return of the symptoms of heart disease’. She consulted Dr Henry Bence Jones (1814-1873), a popular society physician, but, according to Scott, Jones ‘made rather light of it’ and provided ineffective remedies. Today Jones is remembered as the friend and biographer of the scientist Michael Faraday rather than for his medical accomplishments.
By Christmas 1871 Caroline was in despair about her family: ‘who can tell what may occur - & Oh when I am gone & Dear G(eorge) may not live very long - who will pray for them then’. BUt then on 24 February 1872 Caroline died, ‘snatched away from us during sleep!!!’ Scott was distraught. Did he not notice how ill she was?
How did I, and do I still, blame myself for a thousand little things I might have done but did not think to do! How many things I might have said but did not think to say! Oh! if I could have but one more year of her dear companionship, how much more affectionate, considerate, kind and studious of her happiness would I be! but Oh! It is now too late …
Caroline was buried on 29 February 1872, in the churchyard of the parish church, St. Peter's at Tandridge, about one mile from Rooks Nest but visible from the house. Seven members of the office attended the funeral: Charles Baker King, the two Bignalls, Arthur Baker, Medland, Micklethwaite and Scott's private secretary, George Wood. Clayton, Bell, Philip and Brindley also attended. Baker King told Irvine that:
I found Mr. Scott better than I expected to find him, but still the loss seems to have aged him He walks more slowly - and stoops somewhat. I am told that he keeps up while others are with him, - but shows his grief much when alone.
Scott wrote on 12 March that:
I have designed what I trust will be a beautiful monument to my ever dearest Carry. It is to be a low altar tomb partly of polished white marble and in part of Polished Granite. The upper stone which is of marble will have a richly floriated cross the foliage being partly conventional & partly natural the latter carrying out her intense love of flowers and of botany.
Around the sides of the tomb are seven medallions containing figures symbolizing Caroline's special virtues: faith, hope, charity, counsel, mercy, purity of heart and the fear of God. At the foot of the tomb is a heraldic lozenge containing the three Catherine Wheels of the Scotts of Kent. The whole of the white marble tomb chest is covered with intricate carving and stands on a polished granite base. It is completely different to the plain and rather dignified ledger stones that Scott designed for other members of his family. In these special circumstances Scott forsook Gothic for a design that has an early Italian Renaissance appearance. He was clearly trying to reflect Caroline's character and there is nothing to suggest that she ever had any interest in the Gothic style. As he had shown before, Scott could produce an excellent design without recourse to his favourite style. The proliferation of delicate foliage gives it an unmistakably feminine character yet with a sound geometric basis. Scott never really recovered from the loss of Caroline and came increasingly to rely on his sons and his workload to ease his pain.
John Oldrid (Father-in-law) 1779-1849
1849 was an important year for the Scotts. Caroline gave birth to their fourth child, Alwyne Gilbert, and in May she lost her father, John Oldrid, at the age of seventy, in what Scott recalls as ‘circumstances particularly painful & distressing’. Oldrid was ill in bed at his house in South Square, Boston, when he was hurriedly told that his drapery shop in Strait Bargate was on fire. He ran out of the house and as he got near to the shop, he caught sight of the flames reflected in the windows opposite. He immediately thought that his whole business was ruined and collapsed. He was carried back to his house and died on 27 May 1849. The funeral took place at Leverton, about five miles from Boston, where, according to Scott, he had a small estate, and he was buried ‘in the family vault [in] the churchyard’. This is marked by an elaborate tomb-chest with a raised cross entwined with foliage on the lid. Running around the edge of the lid is an inscription which reads:
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF JOHN OLDRID LATE ALDERMAN AND MAGISTRATE OF BOSTON WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE MAY XVII Ao Do MDCCCXLIX AGED LXX Yrs: THE MEMORY OF THE JUST IS BLESSED
It is the grandest monument in the churchyard and undoubtly Scott's design, and when his mother-in-law died eight years later the inscription was added:
ALSO OF MARY HIS WIFE DAUGHTER OF WILLIAM SCOTT OF GRIMBLETHORPE HALL IN THIS COUNTY AND NIECE OF THE REVD THOMAS SCOTT RECTOR OF ASTON SANDFORD BUCKS WHO DIED APRIL 11 1857 AGED 79 YEARS IN SURE CERTAIN HOPE
Oldrid had founded his drapery business in 1804 and as there was no question of the business being taken over by his three daughters, or John Henry, who as a clergyman was excluded from commercial activity, the business passed to Caroline's cousin, another John Oldrid, who died the year after Scott, leaving a fortune, for those days, of £50,000. The firm still exists as the largest department store in Boston with out-of-town branches.
Scott describes his father-in-law as ‘a most excellent man of the most stirling & exemplary worth’ who provided Caroline with her own income, and therefore a reason for seeking the removal of Moffatt. Scott says:
I did not interfere with [her money] but left at her own entire disposal. She paid out of it, however, a great deal that I ought to have bourne besides exercising much charity - & yet always had plenty of money at her command often several hundreds of what may be called pocket money.
Scott was being remarkably generous as, of course at the time, he would have been fully entitled to take all of his wife's income to spend as he pleased. But by the time of Oldrid’s death, he was an established architect with work which would provide him and his family with a substantial income.
George Gilbert junior (son) 1839-97
The eldest son of Scott, attended Eton as a King's Scholar from 1852 and thus relieved his father from the payment of anything towards his education at the most expensive and prestigious school in England. He became a pupil in his father’s office in 1856-63, at the same time as Jackson, working on Chichester Cathedral in 1861. He helped his father with the work on King's College Chapel, Cambridge, between 1860-3 and made a study of the chapel vaulting which he discussed in his book published in 1881, An Essay on the History of English Church Architecture
. The young Scott met up with friends whilst working in Cambridge, presumably from Eton because of the connection between his old school and King’s, and they persuaded him to apply to enter the university. He left his father’s office in 1863 to enter Jesus College and graduated in 1866 as senior in the Moral Science tripos. In 1868 he won the Burney Prize and eventually was elected a Fellow of the College. Resigning his fellowship when he married, he then went on to work closely with is father in his practice.
From about 1868, George Gilbert junior had lived in rooms in Cecil Street, off the Strand in London, but on 3 September 1870 the building was gutted by fire and young Scott lost all his possessions. He moved further along the Strand to Essex Street but he was so upset about losing his much-treasured sketches and books that it seems to have affected his health. Perhaps as a result of the fire and the additional mental strain caused by his father's illness, in the summer of 1871 he fell seriously ill at Eastbourne and was not expected to live. He pulled through though and it was his mother, Caroline, who died the following year.
George Gilbert junior was at the height of his career at the time of his father’s death. Between 1874 and 1877 he built St Agnes’ Church, Kennington, and in 1877 he started on All Hallows’, Southwark. These were his finest churches but sadly both were bombed in the Second World War while his only country house, Garboldisham Manor in Norfolk, built between 1870 and 1873, was demolished in 1954. In February 1880 he followed his wife and children into the Roman Catholic Church. Although St Agnes’ and All Hallows’ were Anglo-Catholic churches, his conversion surprised most people and would have shocked his father. It had little adverse effect on his church work but he complained to Irvine that John ‘has kicked me out of Spring Gardens … he will not permit me to use, even as a mere business address’. The news circulated very slowly and, as late as February 1881, John Henry Parker wrote to Irvine asking ‘which of dear Sir Gilbert’s sons has turned Romanist? & whether this was acknowledged in his father’s lifetime’.
As it happened so quickly after Scott’s death, George must have been contemplating the move to Catholicism while his father was still alive. Perhaps he delayed his actual conversion until after Scott died to avoid what would have been the inevitable family break-up. George’s massive achievement in editing and publishing the Recollections
so soon after his father’s death may have been impelled by a feeling of guilt over his secret aspirations and deceit. He also had much to thank his father for. George inherited some £30,000, a vast sum then, so he was able to pursue his art without the fears that had dogged his father’s career. But with a brilliant academic career behind him and some excellent buildings to his name, he never achieved his full potential. Like his father, he suffered from delusions of persecution, but while with Scott this was a private paranoia, with his son it took the form of aggressive and violent behaviour in public. Only five years after his father’ death he was certified and confined to the Bethlehem Hospital in Southwark. In periods of sanity he continued working but finally gave up in 1893 when his work was taken over by John. He was deprived of his property, estranged from his family and had taken to excessive drinking. He was living at his father’s Midland Grand Hotel when he died of drink on 6 May 1897. It is singularly poignant that Scott's eldest son should die in such pathetic circumstances in the building which today seems to represent the complete fulfilment of his father's architectural ideals and was the last big building to be built in his personal style, particularly as Scott had immersed himself in the activity of producing the mighty design to cope with family grief. It was a pathetic end to ‘an architect of promise’, as Gavin Stamp has called him. But he was far from destitute as his fortune had grown to £41,710 when he died.
John Oldrid (son) 1842-1913
The second son of Scott, John also trained in his father’s office entering in 1860, also contemporaneously with Jackson. In 1864, he undertook a Continental tour with Jackson. In 1868 he married Mary Anne, the daughter of Thomas Stevens of Bradfield and went on to have nine children. In the winter of 1871 John Oldrid, who at the time of his father's illness was living with Mary Anne at Edith Grove in Chelsea, also became seriously ill. However, he recovered and he continued to work closely with his father as well as practising on his own. At the time of Scott’s death, there were approximately forty-nine works in hand. John Oldrid seemed determined to implement his father’s wish that he and George Gilbert should work together at least for an initial period. On 18 April 1878, twelve days after Scott’s funeral, John wrote to Irvine:
Gilbert and I intend working together like twins for the completion of the works in hand. As regards further works we have agreed to settle nothing at present. Neither of us are anxious to have a great business at any time and it may suit our health and happiness better to work apart when present things are done.
Edwin Morgan could return to Scotland after the funeral with the knowledge that his supervision of Scott’s two great unfinished buildings, Glasgow University and St Mary’s Cathedral, would be continuing as before. The drawings for both buildings were issued from Spring Gardens, citing the brothers as joint architects but in reality John was making the design decisions while George continued practising from his own office at Duke Street, a mile to the north. This arrangement also continued at Lichfield, St Mary Abbots and at Bangor, where the brothers were nominated to continue their father’s work as joint architects in February 1879, but all the drawings came from John.
In fact John took over all his father’s restoration work backed up by a diminishing Spring Gardens team led by the faithful Charles Baker King. But in 1880 he lost St Albans when he refused to carry out Grimthorpe’s design for the west front. Grimthorpe had just obtained a faculty to restore the cathedral at his own expense and commented that John ‘was very foolish to throw up such a job almost at the beginning of his career. I am sure his father would not have done so at any time’. At Westminster Abbey, Pearson was appointed Surveyor to the Fabric in succession to Scott and John had to be content with completing the northern portals that his father had started, while at New College, he was humiliated by the dons when they ignored his advice on the completion of the chapel. At Hereford, Scott had always intended to replace Wyatt’s west front but it was not until 1902 that John was able to carry this out. In 1877, his father had published a reconstruction of the west front of the cathedral but John disregarded this rather dignified design and produced an ornate lumpy design which, as Pevsner comments, ‘is so vociferous’ in its detail. How could John do this, he asks, when he could be ‘so good, so earnest and restrained?’
However much of the work that he inherited became a faithful continuation of his father’s intentions. Selby Abbey was gradually transformed into its present cathedral-like appearance by John and his son, C. M. O. Scott. At Glasgow University, he built the Bute and Randolph Halls to his father’s design and he completed the central tower, although there he replaced his father’s clock and solid spire with the existing open-work affair. At St Mary Abbots, he completed the church as his father had intended and between 1889-93 he added the attractive vaulted walkway which connects the street to the church. At Canterbury he fitted his father’s controversial choir stalls.
For the bulk of his own work John perpetuated his father’s increasingly out-dated style, although while his father was still alive, he had shown considerable promise in non-Gothic styles. In 1872 he probably designed an imposing Greek Doric temple as a mortuary chapel for Augustus Ralli in the Greek Orthodox section of West Norwood Cemetery but his masterpiece is the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Sophia in Moscow Road, London. He built this in the Byzantine style between 1877 and 1879. It is a really splendid building where he seems to have captured the unique atmosphere of the Orthodox faith. In 1877, he won the third place in a competition for a new Vestry Hall for Kensington with a design which he described as ‘Classic, with a studious avoidance of so called Queen Anne barbarities’. Clearly he had no taste for the new movement of which his brother was a leading member.
By 1885 John’s establishment was so reduced that parts of 31, Spring Gardens were let off to others including a solicitor and two architects. By 1895 John had moved to two doors along Spring Gardens to number 35 but this was demolished in 1902 to make way for an extension to Cocks, Biddulph’s bank, so John then moved to 2 Dean’s Yard. The original bank building faces onto Whitehall and was rebuilt between 1873 and 1874 by Scott’s former assistant, Richard Coad. In 1902 John was commissioned to build a large rear extension on the sites of numbers 33 and 35 Spring Gardens which the bank owned. This is an extraordinary building for John to have designed. It was completely out of scale with his old office building next door and it is in a style which is more like genuine Queen Anne than the ‘barbarities’ of thirty years before. It is very ornate with small pediments over projecting end-bays but for a rear extension, it is extraordinarily elaborate.
When John died in June 1913, his seventh son, Charles Marriot Oldrid Scott, who had joined his father in 1902, succeeded to the practice with Charles Baker King still in attendance. The office moved from Dean’s Yard in about 1934 to Victoria Street and then to Queen Anne’s Gate and finally to Grosvenor Place. C. M. O. Scott completed Selby Abbey and the west towers of St Mary’s Edinburgh, but his practice was even smaller than that of his father. He died on 13 March 1952 and was buried in Little Kimble churchyard in Buckinghamshire, on the fringe of the Chequers estate, close to where he had lived in modest circumstances.
Albert Scott (son) 1844-1865
Albert Henry Scott, the Scotts' third child, was born a few days after they moved into Avenue Road. When young ‘he showed some tendency to water in the head’, but he was clearly bright and, while at Avenue Road, the Scotts employed private tutors rather than send him to school. One of these, the Reverend George Warburton Weldon (1825-1889), seems to have encouraged Albert at the age of eight, to embark on the rather precocious pastime of writing ‘sermons’, one of which, according to Scott, he introduced into one of his own sermons. After Caroline's death, Scott discovered eight of Albert's ‘sermons’ and a ‘litany’ among her papers but ‘Alas!’ he bewailed ‘I can find no more where oh where are they gone?’. The last one was written soon after the family arrived at The Grove in 1857, and it must have been shortly after then that Albert was sent to boarding school at Bradfield.
John Oldrid may have still been at the school when his younger brother arrived, and although Scott says that Albert's progress was very satisfactory, ‘he was obliged to leave from a slight indisposition’. Maybe it was the departure of his older brother from Bradfield in about 1859 that led to the decision to also bring Albert home. Perhaps Stevens's form of muscular Christianity was not entirely appropriate for such a perfect child. Unlike his two elder brothers, Albert showed no signs of wanting to follow in his father's profession, and as Scott had decided that he was destined for university, he had tutors at home. Albert entered Exeter College, Oxford, early in 1864, four years after his father had completed his extensive building programme there. As this included the new house for the Rector, Dr Lightfoot, Scott probably knew Lightfoot quite well, and thus, when Albert was ready to enter university, he broke the family tradition and sent him to Oxford, rather than Cambridge.
At Oxford, Albert became particularly friendly with Charles Ward, who had matriculated and entered Exeter on the same day as himself. After Albert's death, Scott discovered that Albert frequently had a ‘lengthened conversation, sometimes amounting to friendly discussions with this gentleman on various abstract subjects’. All his friends diplomatically told Scott ‘of the pleasure he took’ in the services held in his father's new chapel, while Lightfoot, somewhat enigmatically, said that ‘he has never known a young man make such progress in so short a time’.
It was during Albert's first long vacation, in the summer of 1864, that the Scotts moved to Ham and during the following Christmas vacation he:
availed himself of its facilities for boating and nearly every day went on the river with Alwyne for a row in a boat he had hired for the vacation. Alas! how little did we think that this harmless recreation would be the cause of so much grief!
It was on Sunday 22 January 1865, that Albert first complained about feeling stiff but Scott, as usual, seems to have been busy, and knew nothing of his son's condition until the following Wednesday. The next day, ‘alas that it should have so happened!!’ He had to go to Salisbury to attend the first meeting of the Restoration Committee and returned to find Albert very ill. On the following day there was no improvement but on the Saturday he seemed to be better. When the local practitioner suggested calling in a Physician, Scott says that, ‘foolishly I doubted and hesitated & lost the day! (Alas! Alas! Alas!)’. However on Sunday morning Scott went to London for a physician, who diagnosed Albert's heart ‘to be very much affected’. It was only now that Scott realised the seriousness of the situation, but it was too late, his son was dying. He stayed at Albert's bedside most of the following night, praying with him, listening to his religious outpourings and witnessing his uncontrollable paroxysms, all of which he describes in considerable detail. In the morning Scott suggested that he might like to see ‘our excellent clergyman Mr Hough’, the Vicar of Ham. Hough prayed over him and this seemed to exert a calming influence. He suffered another fit, soon lost consciousness and died in the afternoon of Monday 30 January 1865.
Scott was distraught. The suddenness of the whole affair was particularly shocking. If only he had been more attentive, if only he had listened to the doctor, if only they had not moved to Ham. But in the end there was nothing that he could have done to alter the situation and his son would still have died of the fever. Albert was buried, not in the churchyard of Mr. Hough's bleak modern church, but in the pretty churchyard of Petersham Church at the foot of Richmond Hill. The funeral took place on 4 February 1865 and his grave is marked by a really beautiful memorial provided by his parents. This is simply two great highly polished granite slabs, placed one on top of the other, over the grave. The top slab, which is of red granite, is incised with a low-relief cross surrounded by foliation, with a large semi-precious stone set into the crossing and long inscription around its bevelled edge. The lower slab of grey granite has another long inscription with incised foliated decoration around its bevelled edge and large stones set in the centres of its long sides. The whole effect is dignified without being austere and yet touching without being sentimental. It is another testimony to Scott's personal capabilities as a designer.
There were no other Albert’s in the family so Albert was probably named after the Prince and as Scott was in the midst of his negotiations over the sculpture of the Albert Memorial, the Queen apparently heard of his loss. He said that:
among a vast number of letters of condolence of the kindest character I received one written by the direction of the Queen expressing her warm sympathy with me in my loss.
He later wrote:
To have lost such a son is a blow most hard to bear yet that a son thus lost to us has shewn such tokens of preparation for an infinitely higher destiny than he could have aimed at in this life is an alleviation for which we have infinite cause for thankfulness! We may well say with a certain nobleman who had lost a son of good promise & excellence ‘My dead son is more to me than any living son I know of’!
This is an extraordinary outburst, especially as it was written some ten weeks after Albert died, during which Scott must have had considerable contact with his four surviving sons, particularly John Oldrid, who was in his office at the time. He surely must have been aware of the effect of this statement on the rest of his family and not surprisingly his oldest son omitted it from the published version of the Recollections
. The impression gained is that Scott was completely overwhelmed by his personal grief and gave little thought to those still living around him. He resorted to private devotions and the activity which came the most naturally, hard work, to provide him with the necessary solace but, of course, it was this very activity that increased his isolation from his family.
Scott, Alwyne Gilbert (son) 1849-78
Scott’s fourth son, Alwyne, was subject to severe bouts of illness when growing up, notably in 1860 at St Leonards, and 1865. He went up to Oxford and after travelling with his father to Switzerland in 1873, became a barrister in the Inner Temple. In 1876, he married Hester Duffett. He died at his home, Woodlands, Henley-on-Thames on 23rd November 1878, shortly after his father’s death.
Scott, Dukinfield Henry (son) 1854-1934
Dukinfield was the youngest son of Scott and named after Sir Henry Dukinfield, the vicar of St-Martin-in-the Fields, the church the Scott family had attended. Scott had hoped that Dukinfield would become an engineer and after he left Oxford, he worked for the railways at Euston Station, which would have been a short journey on the underground railway from their new home, Courtfield House. In 1877, he was elected a liveryman of the Turners Company. He also accompanied his father on his European tours in 1873-4 to Germany and Switzerland and again in 1874. After his father’s death and at the suggestion of Thomas Stevens, he turned to botany, visiting Germany in 1879 to study it. In 1882 he was an assistant at University College, London, and in 1885, an assistant professor at the Royal College of Science. From 1892-1906 he was an honorary keeper at Kew. He married Henrietta Victoria Klaassen in 1887 and continued to work in the field of botany for the rest of his life, publishing his research.