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St Mark's - Antrobus

The urbanisation of so much of Britain in the 1820's and 1830's was proceeding at an alarming rate. Small country towns with the parish church as their focal point became the centres of a vast sprawling metropolis of industry and housing. It was a matter of deep concern to the authorities that there were many families whose parish church was too far away, or too small, that they were not only denied the ability to attend church, perhaps twice on Sunday, but they were also more importantly denied the moral and spiritual guidance that regular church-going could bring. The Church Building Society was set up in 1818 to raise money for churches in areas where they were needed. They were supported by the King, the Universities and many clergy, particularly the Evangelicals. Seen also as a celebration for the peace after Waterloo, Parliament quickly passed an Act in 1818 granting one million pounds for the building of new churches, and appointing Commissioners to administer the Act. In the event, only ninety-six new churches resulted from the million pounds, and in 1824 another half-a-million pounds was voted, which was spread more thinly. Only twenty-six churches were entirely financed out of the second grant, which usually provided a contribution towards the building costs and was still being dispensed in the mid-1850's, eventually benefitting 450 churches.

The emphasis was on value for money, particularly in the first phase. This meant that the Commissioner's churches were characterised by their plainness, lack of ornament and basic plan form. They invariably had no chancels, but they usually had galleries to accommodate the large number of ‘sittings’ and were built of the cheapest materials. There was little scope for architectural expression. Gothic, or at least windows with pointed arches, proved to be the cheapest and most popular style. As Scott said when he built St. Nicholas at Lincoln in 1838, ‘Church architecture was then perhaps at its lowest level’. Scott himself benefitted from a grant from the Church Building Society in 1837, towards the building of Flauden Church, and subsequently the Commissioners paid grants varying between £50 and £2,000, for eighteen churches he built between 1840 and 1853.

One of these was St Mark’s, built between 1847-8, in stone in Decorated style with a bell turret at the east end of the nave. It seated 84 in pews plus room for another 166 free places.

Clarke, B. F. L., Church Builders of the Nineteenth Century, A Study of the Gothic Revival in England (David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1969), p. 23.
Pevsner, N., Some Architectural Writers of the Nineteenth Century (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1972), pp. 32-4.
Scott’s Recollections, I 295.

St Mary's - Astbury

Scott restored this church in 1862 using a ‘light hand’ according to Betjeman’s guide. He added a small west gallery, whose columns provide a kind of inner vestibule.

School, Rectory Grounds - Astbury

Designed and built by Scott between 1850-2 within the rectory grounds.

St Barnabus - Bromborough

Between 1862-4, Scott built a large Early English style church for Charles Kynaston Mainwaring who gave £2000 towards the cost. (see also Trefnant, Wales). It has a north-east steeple with a broach spire and an apse. As Pevsner noted, ‘the interior is sound, but not memorable’.


Capesthorne Hall - Capesthorne Hall

Worked on rebuilding the central tower of the church here after a fire in 1861.

Murray's Handbook for Shropshire & Cheshire (John Murray, London, 1897), p. 89.

Chester Cathedral - Chester

After his tour of North Wales in 1845 Scott made some sketches of Chester Cathedral. The great building was in an appalling state. Its soft red Runcorn sandstone has poor weathering qualities. The Dean, Frederick Anson, had had the whole of the building surveyed with a view to a comprehensive restoration, but he died in May 1867, before anything had been implemented. His successor was the vicar of Wisbech, Dr. John Howson, whose place at Wisbech was taken by Scott's older brother, John.

On his arrival at Chester Howson immediately implemented the restoration that Anson had intended. It was then the cathedral serving Liverpool and Howson's persuasive abilities could be directed towards the wealthy merchants of Liverpool, which along with his personal funds, provided the means to realise his ideas. He was a great admirer of Scott, both personally and professionally, and knew that Scott was the ideal architect to continue the restoration. In 1868, Scott with Ewan Christian, the Architect to the Church Commissioners, was asked to report on the cathedral. They estimated that necessary repairs would cost £22,531, desirable repairs £7,000 and improvements £20,000, which together with architect's fees would give a total cost of £52,031. A public meeting was held in June which resulted in a great flood of money. The Commissioners had promised £1,000 for a general restoration and there were further contributions, particularly from the Dean and Chapter.

In the summer of 1868 Scott started to restore the cathedral by underpinning and repairing the buttresses at the east end. He discovered that the Lady Chapel was standing on very poor foundations and concluded that the sixteenth century chapels on either side were added to support its walls against the thrust of its vaulting. Much to his delight he found remains of buttresses to the Lady Chapel which seemed to be of the same design as his precious buttress at Bangor, so in his restoration he ‘made use of the more perfect evidences procured from Bangor’. He wrote that the exterior stonework of Chester Cathedral: 'was so horribly & lamentably decayed as to reduce to a mere wreck like a mouldering Sandstone Cliff The most ordinary details could often only be found in corners more protected by accidental circumstances than the rest. I can assert for Myself & My able & lamented Clerk of the Works Mr. Frater that not a Stone retaining like its old surface has been wilfully displaced nor a single evidence of detail disregarded. I am the more specific on this point because the tremendous extent of decay - forced upon me most unwillingly.'

James Frater was Scott's Clerk of Works from 1868 until 1875, when he died, and is commemorated by a brass plaque which Howson erected in the north choir aisle. Scott’s restoration started on the east end of the cathedral with Howson contributing to certain aspects, such as planning the sanctuary, and encouraging Scott, if much encouragement was needed, to indulge in one of his archaeological explorations into the walls of the east end of the building. Scott's sketch book shows that on 22 May 1868, he examined the junctions between the ends of the choir aisles and the later chapels on either side of the Lady Chapel. The building of the chapels had necessitated the destruction of thirteenth century apsidal terminations to the aisles and he found that both apses had stone roofs, but the one on the south side was very different to the moderately high roof on the north side. He said that:

on removing a part of the later timber roofs of the south chapel, and some of the rubbish which had accumulated beneath it, we found concealed by it portions of the sloping surfaces of the old apse roof of that side. These were small in extent, but potent in evidence. The first thing which struck us was their excessive steepness of slope - almost like the spire of a church; and on tracing up these slopes to their intersection, what was my surprise at finding that they represented a stone roof of no less than 42 feet high above the tops of the walls [!]

He also discovered fragments which seemed to indicate that this spire-like structure had a flat west side, like a tall gable. Nothing like this existed in English architecture but he said that there were ‘several instances found in France’, and cited Norrey just west of Caen, which Whewell and Petit both mention. Here two such structures project from the apse of the church.

Scott must have then had a rush of blood to the head as he made the extraordinary decision to demolish the southern chapel and replace it with one of these strange structures. The Builder, rarely critical of Scott, said the scheme was based on ‘little more than conjecture’. It denounced the structure as ‘an entire mistake’ and ‘an ugly excrescence’. Scott was forced to publically explain this apparent vandalism. On 8 June 1870 he read a paper to the local archaeological society, where he tries to justify his action by claiming that not only had he discovered this ‘architectural curiosity’, but his quarrying in the stonework of the sixteenth century chapel had revealed details of the Early English Lady Chapel which could now be seen as it was in the days of Edward I. ‘Many architectural antiquaries were consulted’ and the apse was reproduced ‘with almost absolute precision and perfectness’.

Tenders were invited from various builders for the reminder of the restoration, including Beanland, but the work was awarded to John Thompson of Peterborough, who had just ended his partnership with Francis Ruddle. Thompson quoted £21,263 to carry out the work and the contract was signed on 6 October 1869. In February 1870 a fund-raising meeting was held at Liverpool. Howson explained to the audience that £35,500 had already been expended and although there was £7,000 in the bank, an additional £5,000 would still be required for such work as vaulting the nave. Four months later the Restoration Committee reported that the money in the bank had risen to £11,500, due mainly to a grant of £5,000 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

By June 1870 Scott had completed the restoration of the choir and the work was advancing along the south side of the nave towards the south porch and the west end. The roof of the Lady Chapel and its eastern gable would be carried out without delay and the nave re-roofed. In the following October, the restoration of the tower was completed and Howson's young daughter laid the top stone.

In July 1872 Scott says that he had, by then, rebuilt the southern walk of the cloister, added stone vaulting to the nave aisles with the north aisle receiving support from the rebuilt cloister walk. When it came to main nave roof, rather than subjecting its high old walls to the weight of stone vaulting, he gave it oak vaulting with support on the south side from flying buttresses. The choir also had new oak vaulting which was decorated by Clayton and Bell with Howson directing the iconography. However the greatest change in the choir came in 1875 when the late fourteenth century choir stalls, one of the great treasures of the cathedral, were shunted back to their original position east of the crossing and restored and expanded. As had happened in so many of his other cathedral restorations, it was decided that Scott would open-up the nave to the choir by removing the choir screen which supported a huge organ. Scott replaced these with a magnificent open-work timber screen by Farmer and Brindley with a central opening for which Skidmore supplied iron gates. Over this Scott installed a small choir organ and from the east crossing arch above the screen he hung a beautiful cross made by Skidmore. Pevsner exclaimed that this ‘would be an ornament to any exhibition of Victorian art’. But it was removed in 1910 and the great cross, redundant and out of fashion, ended up at Dunham-on-the-Hill Church in 1921.

Scott provided a new reredos, which was designed by John Clayton and executed in mosaic by Salviati, with Howson again contributing to the iconography. The choir pavement has incised marble figures of subjects suggested by Howson to complement his ideas for the vaulting. Scott also designed a new bishop's throne based on the old choir stalls and it was carved in oak by Farmer and Brindley and placed at the eastern end of the stalls. This replaced an amazing structure incorporating part of the fourteenth century shrine of St. Werburgh as its base. The idea, which dated from the Reformation, of using the shrine as a seat for the bishop was, of course, completely abhorrent to Scott, and he says that he had the substructure of the shrine moved ‘into the S. Choir Aisle adding to it some parts recently discovered’.

Scott did little to the north transept but what he did do seems to have been with the aim of reducing its dark and overcrowded appearance. On the north wall, presumably in an effort to let in as much light as possible, he retained the shape of the big and almost square four-centred arched window, but changed its dull grid-iron Perpendicular tracery into a more lively version of that style. While at the south end of the transept, he ensured that there would be an open view into the crossing by placing an open gallery on marble columns across the end of the transept, on which he stood the organ in a beautiful case made by Farmer and Brindley. On the opposite side of the crossing the south transept is altogether a grander place than the dingy little north transept. But it was the parish church of St. Oswald, and much to Scott's chagrin, he was not able to do anything to its interior. It was, he says, ‘a sad wreck of a once beautiful decorated structure still remaining to be undertaken but with the energy of Dean Howson I do not despair of its completion’.

Scott built a new church to accommodate the congregation of St. Oswald, in Parkgate Road, a mile to the north of the cathedral. It was started in 1869, but the work was very slow and it was not until December 1877 that Scott submitted his final fee account. Even then its intended south-east tower never materialised and it was left to John Oldrid, after Scott's death, to complete the nave. It is a dull lancet hall-church with some capitals at the east end still awaiting carving. In 1880 the congregation moved into the new church, which is dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury. With the removal of St. Oswald's church, the solid screen set up in 1828 to separate the cathedral from the transept, was removed. But for Scott this was too late and his death in 1878 meant that his successor, Sir Arthur Blomfield, carried out the work in 1882.

From the outset of his restoration Scott had always wanted to add a spire to the central tower of the cathedral. A model was exhibited in the Chapter House in 1869, but The Builder felt that it would rob the cathedral ‘of part of its architectural dignity and grandeur, and give it a patchwork appearance’. Seven years later it condemned the spire as a useless project, which, ‘we hope, is now abandoned’. It was.

In 1865 the Bishop had decided to build himself a new palace beside the river and vacate the old structure which before the Reformation had been the Abbot's residence on the north side of the cathedral. In 1875, Blomfield was commissioned to design new buildings for the King’s School on the site of the old palace. The palace included a fine thirteenth century vaulted chamber immediately adjacent and at right angles to the west front of the cathedral, and concealing everything north of the edge of the great west window. Scott incorporated the vaulted chamber into what was virtually a new two-storied building with the upper floor as part of the accommodation for the school. By using buttresses on the south wall, he was able to push its upper part sufficiently far back for his new turret to be formed to balance the existing turret on the other side of his restored west front of the cathedral. The little building has traceried ground floor windows and a conically-capped staircase turret on the corner closest to the school. It was described by The Builder, while it was being built in August 1876, as a ‘remarkably effective bit of work’. The lower portion became the Song School and, after the King's School moved to a new site in 1960, the upper room became the Cathedral Library.

Scott's restoration of Chester Cathedral was completed in 1876, and in the September The Builder published a particularly forthright critique of his work there. It claimed that the refacing of the conspicuous parts had produced ‘a modern Gothic church, a reproduction of a Mediaeval building by modern workmen’. But its greatest criticism was, of course, reserved for the ‘extraordinary pyramid of masonry’ which terminated the southern aisle. It did, however, concede that with the interior ‘there is little room for anything but congratulation on the result’. A slower and more painstaking restoration would have been more appropriate for Chester but perhaps it was Howson's drive and highly successful fund-raising that led to such a drastic restoration. A few years later in 1880, the establishment of Liverpool as a separate diocese would have meant that donations obtained from that wealthy source would have been less forthcoming. Scott's wholesale restorations were becoming increasingly subject to critical comment. It was only six months after The Builder article that William Morris's famous letter to The Athenaeum appeared, criticising the methods that Scott had employed over the last thirty years. Nevertheless his work seems to have been to the liking of his clients, and Howson, in particular, was unwavering in his support and encouragement. But even after his resolve to reduce his work load, Scott could not resist further invitations to add to his already impressive list of cathedral restorations.

Fisher, G., Stamp, G. and Heseltine, J., (eds), The Scott Family, Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Avebury Publishing, Amersham, 1981), 78 [c], 26 [a].
Pevsner, N., and Hubbard, E., Cheshire, Buildings of England (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1971), pp. 45, 171, 205.
Victoria County History, III,, p. 193.
Cole, D., The Work of Sir Gilbert Scott (The Architectural Press, London, 1980), p. 90.
See letter to The Times, 6 April 1878, p. 11, col F.
The Builder, XXVI, 7 March 1868, p. 184.
Murray, J., Handbook to the Cathedrals of England, Northern Division, Durham, Chester, Manchester, Part II (John Murray, London, 1869), pp. 376-7, 385-6, 435.
Scott, G. G., On the Architectural History of Chester Cathedral etc. (Chester, 1870), pp. 14, 15, 18, 19, 24.
Scott’s Recollections, III 346-7, IV 146-7, 152, 191-2.
Petit, J. L., Remarks on Church Architecture (James Burns, London, 1841), vol I, p. 162.
Whewell, W., Architectural Notes on German Churches (Deighton and Parker, London, 1842), p. 195.
The Builder, XXVII, 18 December 1869, p. 997.
The Builder, XXXIV, 16 September 1876, pp. 845, 895, 897.
The Builder, XXVII, 3 April 1869, p. 272.
The Builder, XXVIII, 26 February 1870, p. 173.
The Builder, XXVIII, 4 June 1870, p. 452.
Pevsner, N., and Metcalf, P., The Cathedrals of England: Midland, Eastern and Northern England (Viking, Harmondsworth, 1985), pp. 51, 58-9.
The Builder, XXVIII, 8 October 1870, p. 814.
Addleshaw, G. W. O., ‘Architects, Sculptors, Designers amd Craftsmen, 1770-1970, whose work is seen in Chester Cathedral’, in Architectural History, 1971, XIV, pp. 87, 97.
The Builder, XXXIV, 5 August 1876, pp. 750, 760-1 (illustration), 904 and 16 September 1876 for illustration.
Bennett, F. L. M., Chester Cathedral (Phillipson and Golder, Chester, 1925), pp. 60-1, 113, 117.
RIBA Drawings Collection, Ledger of Scott’s Office, 1875-1914, p. 45.
Cotton, V., Liverpool Cathedral, Official Handbook (1951, 11th edn), p. 9.
See letter to The Times, 6 April 1878, p. 11, col F.

Chester Town Hall - Chester

Scott entered the competition to design a new town hall, with drawings dated 1864, which was won by William Henry Lynn of Belfast.

St Michael and All Angels - Crewe Green

Built between 1856-8 in red and black brick in Late Thirteenth Century style, with a north turret and apse, the church has divided commentators. Pevsner noted ‘It is a surprise that so COMME IL FAUT an architect should have yellow brick and red brick bands as the inner facing material’ while Muthesius says it is ‘a very rich treatment with arcades ... linked with the masonry in a more constructional way’.

St Mary's - Halton

A church built by Scott between 1851-2 with details in a Thirteenth Century style, including a bell turret, the costs were borne by Sir Richard Brooke Bt. of Norton Priory.


St Michael's - Hulme Walfield

This expansive ‘attractive’ [Pevsner] church was built by Scott between 1855-6, faced in rock, with geometric tracery and a bellcote.

St John the Evangelist - Kingsley

This was part of Scott’s Commissioner’s work, built between 1849-51 at a cost of £2000. A small church in Late Thirteenth Century style, with a west tower, timber arcade and wrought iron screen, it had 60 pews and 294 free places.


John Francis Egerton Monument - Little Budworth

In 1847, the people of Cheshire decided to raise a monument to commemorate Francis Egerton (1810-1845), who had died in India as a result of wounds that he had received in action in 1845. Scott and Moffatt were commissioned to carry out the work and monument was placed just inside the gates of Oulton Park, the Grey-Egerton family home in Cheshire. It is a slender version of the Martyrs’ Memorial, but square on plan and in white stone. At the lowest level is a sculptured panel depicting Egerton’s last heroic action and at the higher level, are mourning figures on the four corners. The park is now a motor racing circuit with Scott’s Gothic memorial providing an attractive foil to its twenty-first century surroundings.

West Park Hospital, Presbury Road - Macclesfield

This was designed and built with Moffatt between 1843-5 in Tudor design and built by John Frost for £8955. There were later additions to the building before it was demolished in 1990.

St Mary's - Nantwich

Scott undertook an extensive restoration of this church between 1854-61. This included removing the galleries, the box pews, lowering the floor level while the transept roofs were pitched higher. Eroded stone was replaced by sandstone from quarries at Runcorn. Scott also replaced Decorated windows and a Perpendicular door with those in a Second Pointed style which Pevsner called ‘inexcusable’.

St James's, Victoria Road - New Brighton

Built in sandstone by Scott between 1854-6, a large handsome church, seen as ‘typically Scott’, it has a north-east steeple, broach spire and painted apse. Work progressed well but on 22nd November, 1854 a violent storm erupted which caused a great deal of damage to the half-built church. As a result, work upon the church was put back many months and further funds were required to repair the damage. Work recommenced but ceased for about six months in 1855 through lack of funds. The exterior was completed early in 1856 and a further appeal was launched in April of that year as the subscription list monies had been used up - the contractors, 'Furness and Kilpin' of Lawton Street, Liverpool, had not been fully paid for their work and there was a need for funds to purchase a church bell, an organ and to fence the grounds. The additional money was promptly raised enabling the church to be consecrated by the Bishop on 10th July 1856, with the church walls and parsonage still to be completed. The total cost of the church and parsonage was £12,253 and was mainly paid by subscription; the largest subscribers were the Rev. R.D Fowell (£1,025); John North (£1,000) and William Rowson (£900).


St Peter's - Prestbury

Scott carried out the six drawings for the restoration of this church in 1876 including a new east window and rebuilding the north aisle. However, the work was not carried out until after his death, between 1879-85, by his son John Oldrid.

All Saints, Odd Rode - Rode

Commissioned in 1861 and dedicated in 1864, the church was built in Late Thirteenth Century style, from small brown stones with a tile roof. It was built by John Gallimore of Newcastle under Lyme, and the Clerk of Works was John Saville. Other craftsmen included the carver William Farmer of London and Skidmore who made the chapel screen. The final account totalled £5913. Goodhart Rendle said of the building, ‘Taking things all round, I like this best of any Scott church I have seen … Everything seems to me a triumph of the academic type of good Gothic design…’


St John the Evangelist, Sandbach Heath - Sandbach

Scott designed this church in Late Thirteenth Century style and it was built between 1860-1 in brick sized yellow stone with red sandstone dressings. It also included geometric plate tracery, a crossing tower with a spire and ashlar interior. Pevsner noted that it had ‘many seriously considered details’, such as the contrast between the east and west windows with stained glass by Clayton and Bell, the proportion of the spire and the arcading to the chancel. Scott also provided polypodal stone base to the pulpit, a square font and a screen of which Anson said, ‘He inserted the most wonderful Venetian Gothic tracery in a two- plane screen, between the choir benches and the vestry’.

Anson, P. F., Fashions in Church Furnishings 1840-1940 (Studio Vista, London, 1965), p. 157.

St Mary's - Sandbach

Scott completed a thorough restoration for the Rev. John Armistead between 1847-9, including rebuilding and extending the church. This included rebuilding the west tower in Perpendicular style, incorporating a porch at ground level with an inscription about the rebuilding. The old chancel and chapels were incorporated into the nave and a new chancel was built. Scott used the builders Thomas and William M. Cooper, the project costing £7000.


Sandbach Literary Institute - Sandbach

Designed by Scott and built between 1857-8 in brick with brick patterning in a Gothic style by Samuel Faram of Wheelock at a cost of £2500 of which £2100 was contributed by local inhabitants. It is two stories with dormers and was sketched by Alfred Waterhouse in 1859.

Sandbach Savings Bank - Sandbach

Adjacent to the Literary Institute, this appears to be an earlier version of the same type of building. Dating from 1854, it is in Gothic style, built in brick with diapers.

Sandbach Grammar School, Crewe Road - Sandbach

Sandbach charities had invested in land near Burslem, in Staffordshire, where coal was later found increasing its value substantially. Therefore in 1848 a private Act of Parliament was passed which included funding buildings for a new and enlarged grammar school through this. These were designed and built between 1849-50, with a Gothic style gatehouse or lodge, the main parts along the front with multi-coloured brickwork in Elizabethan style patterns.

Earwaker, J. P., The History of the Ancient Parish of Sandbach … (1890, London), p. 79.

Smallwood Rectory - Smallwood

Designed and built by Scott between 1845-6, in multi-coloured brickwork in patterns and Elizabethan style chimneys.

St Matthew's - Stretton

In 1859, Richard Greenall, Archdeacon of Chester, previously vicar of Stretton, commissioned Scott build a chancel as an addition to an earlier Commissioners Church of 1826-7, at a cost of £1700. The builder was R Fairhurst of Whitley and the stonemason Holland of Northwich. It has a cradle roof with carved bosses. At each side are oak stalls for the choir. Scott also designed an oak pulpit at the same time. Greenall died suddenly in 1867, so after his death, in 1870, the church was rebuilt as a memorial to him, again using Scott. It was rebuilt in red sandstone and has a wooden roof tiled with Westmorland slate in Early English style.

Scott was able to marry together his new building with his earlier chancel. The west tower was also rebuilt and there are plain blocks which were not carved. Goodhart Rendle described it as ‘solid, decent, well designed and unassuming’.


Christ Church School - Alsager

In 1847, the parson, the Reverend Charles Alsager Tryon, decided that the school provision was inadequate and using Alsager Trust money and public subscriptions planned a new school building. Scott designed this, the new school opening in 1853. It is now a housing development, the date still visible on the north east corner stone of the old classroom which is now number 1, Charles Tryon Court.