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St Mary's - Aylesbury

Before his last visit to Germany in 1848, Scott made an inspection of the tower of St. Mary’s Church, Aylesbury and gave a brief report of his findings to a restoration committee which had been formed earlier in the year. Buckinghamshire, at that time, probably contained the highest number of his works. These included four new work-houses, three parsonages, a new house at Chesham, an extension to Buckingham Gaol and his re-fitting of Iver Church was nearing completion. But he was not proud of most of these works and it may have been the knowledge that many in his audience knew these early buildings that increased his nervousness.

Scott was trying to build up a reputation as a careful restorer and used the lecture as a means of demonstrating the merits of his thoughtful approach to restoration. The Aylesbury Committee must have requested Scott to carry out a more detailed survey almost immediately after his lecture. He reported on 4 November 1848 but it was late spring 1849, before he was sent an official letter of appointment.

St. Mary's is the largest medieval church in Buckinghamshire so it must given Scott considerable satisfaction to secure this work in his native county, even though it was another central tower job. It was largely built in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries and stands in the centre of the town on a small limestone hill. Scott reported that ‘there is scarcely one wall or pillar of the orginal date, which has not gone out of the perpendicular’, the tower had been given additional buttresses and arches had been walled-up to stabilise the structure. It was in an appalling state but he could not understand why a building founded on rock should have failed so comprehensively, until he dug down to the foundations. There he discovered that instead of resting on a solid bed, it stood on ‘a mass of loose stone and earth, thrown in without order and without cement’. As with many other churches at the time, graves within the church also contributed to the problem. He advised that these should be removed and the surrounding areas filled with concrete. The great piers supporting the tower should be successively underpinned so that new foundations could be provided of hard stone and the piers themselves rebuilt in Darley Dale Stone from Derbyshire. He also suggested reconstructing the nave roof in oak, straightening the nave columns, repairing the tower staircase, the clerestory and the roofs of the aisles and the transepts.

Scott's idea of what he calls ‘a good joke’ arose from his alarmist report. The vicar was annoyed that his communion services were being interrupted by the sound of the clock striking twelve so the sexton secured the clapper by a long wire to one of the pews below the tower. As he said:

When the hour of trail came, the clock made violent spasmodic efforts to strike twelve & at every abortive stroke lifted up a corner of the crazy old pew & let it down again, & the congregation, fresh from the alarm caused by my report, came to the instinctive conclusion that the tower was coming down & ... rushed from the (supposed) falling church en masse.

In May 1849, tenders were invited for the work and Cooper of Derby, who was already building Holbeck Church at Leeds for Scott, was selected with a tender sum of £2,744. Eventually the committee managed to raise £2,000, and that was thought sufficient for a contract to be signed on 20 November 1849. Scott transferred Charles Hannum, the Clerk of Works at Ellesmere, who was obviously experienced in central tower problems, to supervise Aylesbury. The church was closed, with services being held elsewhere until May 1851, but it was not until 1854 that new seating and a new pulpit were provided made by W. W. Thompson of Aylesbury. The chancel was finally reopened in 1855, the repairs and restorations costing £8000. Even then the exterior had hardly been touched.

Scott produced another report, dated 7 November 1864 and a new restoration committee was set up. By September 1865, £1,558 had been raised for the next stage of the restoration. In the following spring, work started on the west end with clearing the outside walls of plaster and renewing much of the stonework. Scott removed post-medieval windows and replaced them with new ones in the Perpendicular style in the north aisle and in the Decorated style in the north transept. At the end of the south transept, he removed a porch and replaced it with a fine Perpendicular-style doorway flanked on either side by niches containing statues of St. Peter and St. James which he donated himself. He rebuilt the top of the tower and straightened the little spire, but it was in the chancel that he made the greatest impact. Here he reconstructed the lancets in the side walls forming an internal pattern of windows and blank arcading, removed the big late Perpendicular east window and replaced it with a trio of lancets surmounted by a small round window. The old window was re-erected in a nearby garden, where it still exists, testifying that it was not the deterioration of the stonework which induced Scott to remove it, but rather his desire to give the chancel, with its lancets on the side walls a more unified appearance. Scott may not have liked the rather clumsy-looking old window, but its removal does seem to have been totally contrary to the manifesto that he so eloquently delivered to his Buckinghamshire audience some twenty years before.

In 1853, the Venerable Edward Bickersteth (1814-92) was appointed Vicar of Aylesbury. He was a young and ambitious cleric, at the time, who in 1872 became the Dean of Lichfield where Scott had been restoring the cathedral since 1856. Scott described him as ‘My valued friend & patron’ in 1872, and clearly Bickersteth was pleased with Scott's somewhat drastic approach to Aylesbury. Presumably the other clergy in the Archdeaconry were also pleased with his efforts at Aylesbury, as even after the final completion of the chancel in November 1869, Scott received at least thirteen new commissions to restore medieval churches in Buckinghamshire, including his beloved Hillesden.

Brandwood, G., ‘'A Disgrace to the Town': Aylesbury Church and its Restoration by George Gilbert Scott’, Bucks Records, XXXIV, 1992, pp. 5-6.
Scott’s Recollections, II 88-9, IV 65.

Old Rectory - Akeley

Scott built the rectory for Rev. John Holford Risley, M.A., in a Tudor style, with stone mullions and dressings. It had diagonal brickwork and a symmetrical entrance front and was constructed between 1840-1.

Workhouse - Amersham

In January 1838, two Guardians from Amersham visited Scott’s newly completed Guildford workhouse in the classical style. They found it to be ‘very far preferable and much superior in its conveniences and accomodations [sic] to any Workhouse they had previously seen’, but it is not clear that they expected the Tudor design which Scott produced for them. Perhaps in an effort to make their designs seem less austere, the standard Scott and Moffatt plan was only slightly altered to accommodate the new design, with mullioned windows, Tudor turrets and patterned brickwork, as Scott had seen on his sketching tours. It is clear that the partners wanted to vary the standard classical design. Thus by 1838, all Scott and Moffat’s new workhouses were in the Tudor style and Amersham was one of the earliest.

It was authorised in 1838 to house 330 inmates, constructed from flint and red brick, on an E plan with single storey front range with a gatehouse, since altered. £6800 was authorised for the building in 1838, with a further £1400 in 1841 to complete it, along with £300 in 1845 for an addition.

Bucks County Record Office, 4/1/7 p. 129.

The Manor - Aston Sandford

In 1867, Scott added a large extension to the west of an old timber framed house for John and William Dover. It was built by Robert and John Rose in an asymmetrical ‘Tudorish’ style, in red brick with blue brick courses, a tile roof, square headed windows and a pointed arch door.

Manor Cottage - Aston Sandford

Manor Cottage is identical in style to the Manor House and is also probably by Scott. A barn to the south of the Manor of 1871, also has similar treatment.

Holy Trinity - Bledlow

Restored this church for Lord Carrington between 1876-7 at a cost of £1400. It is categorised as a ‘drastic’ restoration, with new clerestory, south buttress and clerestory windows. Work was stopped on the nave where he had intended to raise the roof. The local tradition is that Scott removed two wagon loads of stone during the time he was dealing with it and deposited it on the pathways of the village, inferring the loss of important work from the church.


St Peter and St Paul - Buckingham

Church restored for Rev. W. F. Norris between 1862 and 1866 and was completed by Scott’s son, John Oldrid, the total cost reaching £15,000. Originally a church dating from 1777, attributed to F. Horne, Scott gave it a new chancel, at the cost of the last Duke of Buckingham, all new windows except for the bell openings, a new south porch and turret, with new internal piers and timber vaulting throughout. Scott had reported that the church was in immediate danger as the underpinning was not suitable for the extra weight of the church, so buttresses were suggested as extra support. Money for these was raised by subscription advertised in the Buckinghamshire Advertiser and Free Press in 1864. Alterations to the nave were finally finished by John Oldrid in 1884.

Chantry Chapel of St John - Buckingham

‘Much’ restored in 1875 including a new stone bell-cote, mullions and tracery in the south-east window, tracery in the windows in the south wall, east end decorated windows inserted, and probably the sexfoil light over the door.

Old Gaol - Buckingham

Scott’s circular to his father’s friends produced other work than workhouses including a delightful castle-like addition to Buckingham Gaol in 1839 for his father’s friend Thomas Barlett (c. 1795-1850), who was then mayor of Buckingham. It was semi-circular in plan in the style of the original mock castle of 1748, at a cost of £1267. A gaolers house was added on the south side and the builder was John Moles.

Castle House, West Street - Buckingham

The house was bought by Thomas Hearn in 1837 and Scott advised Hearn about the pulling down of the dilapidated north side of the quadrangle. Later alterations were carried out in 1881 by E. Swifen Harris.

Workhouse - Buckingham

Scott and Moffat designed this in 1835 to a classical plan in stone with a centre of five bays with a three bay pediment, costing £8215 and to house 125 inmates.

St Mary's - Chesham

Restored and refitted this church in 1868-9. This included the renovation of the chancel, a new chancel roof, external walls were partly refaced, the north aisle was enlarged and the roof restored. The clerk of works was John Chapple and the cost was £5041, of which Scott’s fee was £287. The refitting included a timber pulpit and lecturn, desk and font, the sculpture by Samuel Ruddock, redecoration of the chancel arch by Burlinson and Grylls and tiles by William Godwin of Lugwardine.


16, High Street - Chesham

While he was still with Roberts, Scott embarked on his second job. This was a large house in the centre of Chesham,for his friend Henry Rumsey, who in 1833 had succeeded to his father's medical practice. The connections between the Scott and Rumsey families seem to have been particularly close and Scott’s older brother, John, was articled to Henry Rumsey's father. Henry's new house is a much bigger building and more complicated than the Wappenham parsonage. It is three stories high, four bays wide with a three storey back extension on a tight town-centre site, and built in an attractive deep red brick, with a slate roof. It has some architectural pretentions with recessed arches containing round-headed windows on the ground floor, and the whole street facade is elegantly proportioned with delicate Georgian-style windows on the upper floors. Scott however, writing thirty years later, said ‘My taste seemed under a cold spell, & the design, though convenient enough was wholly devoid of any attempt at Architectural character’. Rumsey ‘wanted to employ several local tradesmen’, so Scott asked his friend from his Edmeston days, William Moffatt, to be the Clerk of Works, with Moffatt's father in London supplying much of the joinery. ‘Moffatt performed his duties most efficiently and cleverly’ but his tactlessness upset Rumsey, and poor Scott was left to explain to Rumsey that Moffatt was really acting in his best interests. As Scott ruefully remarks, ‘A state of things very typical of many subsequent experiences’. The Chesham house seems to have been completed with a stone inside the front door which proudly announces that ‘HENRY RUMSEY SENR' LAID THIS STONE IN HIS SON'S HOUSE AUG 31 1834’.

Scott’s Recollections, I 260-1.

St Nicholas and St Mary - Chetwode

Scott restored the church in 1868 and probably also Chetwode House, now demolished.

Glebe House - Dinton

At Dinton, near Aylesbury, Scott designed a parsonage for the Reverend John Harrison in 1836. It had a symmetrical layout and appears like a typical picturesque cottage ornée of the late Regency period, with rendered walls, thatched roofs, mullioned windows and Tudor style chimneys. The remarkable thing about the building was that Scott followed a local tradition of mud or cob building, which was usually reserved for humble structures such as barns or walls. Harrison's house was very large, costing over £5,000, and was claimed to be the largest cob house in Europe.

St Mary's - East Claydon

The church was restored between 1871-2 as a token of great esteem for the incumbent, Rev. William, Robert Fremantle, the money raised by friends and parishioners, the chancel restoration paid for by Sir Harry Vernon, the local patron. There was ‘much renewal’ except for the tower, including a new north arcade, aisle and vestry.

St Michael's - Edgcott

Scott added a vestry and subsequently restored the church in 1871 and 1875. This included repaving with decorative tiles, heating, new choir stalls, a desk lectern, re-roofing with a channel around the exterior walls and new buttresses on the north side.


St Mary's - Fleet Marston

It was reported in the Bucks Herald that the church had reopened in 1869 ‘after a complete restoration internally and externally, under the direction of Mr Scott’. This was at a cost of £700-800 and included a bell turret and western buttresses along with an east window by Burlinson and Grylls.

St John the Baptist - Grandborough

This church was restored in 1880-1 by Marshall and Boyse for the Rev. C. W. Stubbs at a cost of £1150, from drawings originally worked up by Scott in 1875. The restoration included a new porch, now demolished, part of the south wall reconstructed, a chancel roof and re fitting including a pulpit on a stone base with an openwork timber front and a plain circular font.

St James's - Great Horwood

This church was completely restored and refitted between 1873-4 at a cost of £4900. The sedilia was modelled on the fragmentary remains of the original and a new oak lectern was provided.


All Saints - Hillesden

Scott had a strong affinity with the church at Hillesden and had sketched it several times on his early sketching tours around his local area. When Scott joined the Architectural Society in January 1835, he donated of a superb measured drawing he made of the screen of Hillesden Church. He reported on the church in 1873 summing up his affection for the building by saying ‘it is a choicest specimen of a village church in the county and very few in England, of its period and scale, surpass or equal it’. He restored it between 1874-5, treating it with an almost imperceptible gentleness. The work was carried out by Franklin of Deddington at a cost of £2200 but Scott donated a fine fan-vault for the porch and he also waived his fees.


Parsonage - Hillesden

In 1870, Scott designed a Tudor-style parsonage, including half-timbering, next to the church, for Rev. Robert Holt. It cost £1060, including commission of £125 and the builders were Marfeild and Booth of Buckingham. Completed by 1871 it included five bedrooms and had large chimneys and gables in a Tudor style.

Scott, G., ’All Saints' Church, Hillesden’ Bucks Records, IV, p. 318.

St Peter's - Iver

This was one of Scott's early solo projects, and he was chosen in competition with Fowler and appointed to the restoration of the church in 1846. He was selected by the churchwarden ‘as an architect is from his extensive practice in such undertakings in all respects qualified to tender his views to the parish’. His restoration, completed by 1848, included a new west gallery under the tower for children, work on the vestry, tower and body of the church, costing over £2331. It was also re-seated and re-refitted at the same time and at a cost of £829, carried out by G. and W. Wyatt of Oxford. A Norman style font base was provided for the older font, along with a perpendicular style reading desk and stalls.


St Mary Magdalene - Latimer

Originally a church built by Blore in 1841, Scott extended and restored the church in 1867 in red brick with new transepts, new apse, chancel arch and apse arch, effectively rebuilding the church.

All Saints - Marlow

Scott worked on this church restoration with his son John Oldrid Scott in 1873, as witnessed by drawings which survive from 1873-4. John Oldrid Scott completed the work, adding a chancel in 1875-6, arcades 1881-3 and tower and spire in 1898-1900.

Holy Trinity - Marlow

In 1852, Scott built this as a Chapel of Ease for the Rev. Frederick Bussell, vicar, to seat 400 adults and 110 children at a cost of £3000. With flint and stone dressings, it had geometrical tracery and a bell turret with a small spire in a mid-pointed style.


All Saints - Middle Claydon

Scott restored and refitted the church from 1870-1, including a reredos by Farmer and Brindley, decorated by Clayton and Bell.

Claydon House - Middle Claydon

Scott altered the south front in 1871 adding canted bays and ‘a bit of strapwork’. He incorporated a fireplace and panelling from Salden House, Mursley, in the remodelled part.

St Peter and St Paul - Olney

Scott and his practise rebuilt and restored the church between 1870-85, including restoration of the nave (1876-7) and chancel (1874), the south aisle and a new east window based on Emberton, at a cost of nearly £2000.


St Mary the Virgin - Padbury

This church was restored in 1882 by John Oldrid Scott to Scott’s design. The chancel was restored, new choir stalls and communion rails inserted, along with black and white marble chancel steps and ornate floor tiles at a cost of £1075.

Wycombe Union Workhouse - Saunderton

This was almost completely demolished in 1955 when it was described as a ‘very ugly and derelict workhouse’. It was designed by Scott and Moffatt using their Tudor style and short H plan, and was built by C. Kirk between 1841-3, at a cost of £8000.

St Edward's - Shalstone

Between 1861-2, Scott ‘almost entirely’ restored the church, except for the north aisle, for Mrs Fitz-Gerald.

St Michael and All Angels - Steeple Claydon

Scott appears to have restored this church twice, once with Moffatt before 1845 and later in 1875 with John Oldrid, when the chancel was restored and it was given a new chancel arch and tower arch.

Holy Trinity - Stewkeley

Scott built the Chapel of Ease for the parish church in 1866 for the Rev. C. H. Travers, with a nave and bellcote over the western entrance.

St Mary the Virgin, London Road - Stony Stratford

This church was designed and built by Scott between 1863-5 for his patrons Miss Percival of Calverton and the Rev. W. P. Trevelyan of Calverton. Built in Early English style out of stone, it had lancet windows, an apse, south porch, nave, aisles and bellcote although commentators (Murray) have described it as ‘dullish’. In 1864 he also built a parish room and vicarage which were initially detached but later joined to the church. The vicarage was an asymmetrical design built in stone, with a window by Farmer to which a later bay was added along with other alterations.

St Nicholas's - Taplow

Scott rebuilt and enlarged the existing church, which dated from 1828, designing a new chancel and altering the nave in 1864-5 at a cost of £800 for the Rev. N. Whitely. The church was then substantially rebuilt again in 1912, using Scott’s windows in the chancel.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin - Twyford

Church restored by Scott in 1875.

Rectory - Weston Turville

Typical of Scott's early work was a new parsonage house for Reverend Arthur Isham at Weston Turville, below the Chiltern escarpment, which he designed in February 1838. The house, in general form, resembles Dinton, with a symmetrical front with a projecting two storied porch, but it is a delightful classical building with a low pitched roof, wide eaves, rustication to the porch and other classical details including small central pediments at the front and rear, sash windows and simple fanlight over the front door. It is built in coursed flintwork with red brick dressings and cost £1993, having saved £60 by re-using old materials. This was, in fact, Scott’s last classical building before he embarked on the Foreign Office twenty-three years later.

All Saints - Wing

In 1850, the church was ‘completely’ restored including new seating throughout, a new chancel ceiling, paving in the nave and chancel renewed, the north porch rebuilt, upper parts of the chancel screen, the timber lectern and alter rails replaced and the exterior windows were re-cut. The rood loft was also removed, against Scott’s wishes, inspired by the Bishop of Oxford’s address to the local Archaeological Society. The restoration cost £1476.

Workhouse - Winslow

In his early career, Scott's circulars to his father's friends led to several small works, and ‘I succeeded by a strenuous canvas of every guardian in obtaining appointments to four unions in our immediate district’. Thomas Scott was well-known and much respected among the clergy on the Buckinghamshire Northamptonshire borders, and his death in 1835, at a comparatively early age of 54, must have been quite a shock. So if Scott's plea was for support for his mother and family, rather than for his own professional advancement, it is not surprising that he received favourable reactions. The Church of England clergy, at that time, occupied positions of power in local administration and they had often had considerable influence over the local Boards of Guardians of the Poor whose duty it was to implement the legislation bringing in the union workhouses under the guidance of the Poor Law Commissioners from Somerset House.

The respect in which Scott's grandfather was held, also helped him in the early days of his practice, as a fund was established to assist the descendants of the ‘Commentator’, and Scott was one of the beneficiaries from this fund. This must have been particularly welcome, as although he had prospects from the work that he had secured, he found that instead of assisting his mother, his precipitous decision to leave Kempthorne had left him, with no income at all, and it was his mother who had to help him ‘out of her scanty means’, rather than the other way round.

The union houses which Scott secured were to be built at Brackley, Buckingham, Northampton, Towcester and Winslow. With his sister and brother-in-law at Gawcott, he made Buckingham the centre for his visits to these unions, which were all within a radius of about eighteen miles from the town. He travelled on a mail coach to Aylesbury, where he had ‘a short bout of bed at a public house’, and then on to Buckingham by mail cart, where he stayed with William Stowe, a physician, to whom his brother, Samuel King Scott, was apprenticed. The Guardians of the five unions were no doubt impressed by this twenty-four-year-old grandson of the ‘Commentator’ and his ability to sketch out his ideas in an attractive manner, his knowledge of construction and building methods, and above all his understanding of costs. Scott, in fact, used Kempthorne's model designs as the basis for the five workhouses and was likely to have shown them to the Guardians before they appeared in the Commissioners Report, published in August 1835. Buckingham, Brackley and Winslow were built in 1835, Towcester in 1836 and Northampton in 1837. As was usual, they were all sited on the edge of their towns: Buckingham and Towcester were built of stone, while Winslow and Northampton were built in red brick. Winslow cost £5250 of which Scott’s fees were three and a half per cent. It was built by Willmore and Mole with the clerk of works W. J. H. Barnaul. They all follow Kempthorne's model for three hundred paupers, except Towcester, which is a single central block with side wings, now converted into housing. The fine canted entrance block of Winslow still exists, but the accommodation wings were demolished in about 1980.

Scott’s Recollections, I 272-3, III 43.