most impressed by the earlier phase of the Early Pointed, a style which especially unites the architecture of Scotland with that of the North of England ... In England one of its finest examples is in a border county. I refer to the exquisite sanctuary of Tynemouth Priory, which unites the severe dignity of the Transition with the richness of the developed Early Pointed. On this variety, then, I have founded my design.Scott possessed a copy of Sir Walter Scott's The Border Antiquities of England and Scotland, which was published in two volumes in 1814 and 1817. This was probably the basis of Scott's knowledge about the border cathedrals as it includes engravings and descriptions of Tynemouth. In his third Royal Academy lecture in 1858, he describes Tynemouth as being ‘excelled by few, if any, examples of its period’. It is pure Pointed, but retains ‘the great distinguishing characteristic of the transition - the square abacus’. In fact Tynemouth is a roofless ruin, and Scott showed his students a reconstruction by Weatherley of what he thought the interior of the east end had looked like ‘with its curious termination, against the east end’. He applied the vaulting of this ‘curious termination’ to the east end of St Mary's making it look rather like an apse when viewed from the west end. The square abacus is used throughout St Mary's, usually over a stiff-leaf capital, but generally decoration and carved ornament are used sparingly. The clean lines of the pointed window arches are emphasised by the omission of cusps. Plate tracery appears in the nave and transept clerestories and on the towers, but otherwise tracery is confined to round windows at the end of the transepts and over the lancets of the west front. The south transept round window is modelled on the so-called ‘Dean's Eye’ in the north-east transept of Lincoln Cathedral, which Scott describes as ‘perhaps the finest in England’, while that in the north transept seems to be a Scott version of the great west window of Chartres Cathedral. The west window is similar to his wheel-window at Christ Church, Oxford, below which, and within the same arched surround, is a group of four tall lancets. Here Scott seems to have been suggesting a sort of plate tracery that would develop into geometric tracery. Scott most obvious reference to Scottish buildings is in the western portal which is based on a combination of the west entrances of Holyrood Abbey and Elgin Cathedral, but for his spires he turned to a fourteenth century English model. At Bloxham, in Oxfordshire, the tower changes into an octagon at the base of the belfry openings with pinnacles filling the corners of the square part of the tower which rise alongside the octagon to above the base of the spire. Scott had used this device on Christ Church, Ealing, in 1852, and repeated it on all three towers of St Mary's. The central tower is a 275 feet tall structure and Scott resorted to a special construction to ensure its stability. He provided aisles to the nave, choir and transepts and this enabled him to insert great diagonal flying buttresses against each corner of the tower. Internally, the nave and transepts have oak barrel-vaulted ceilings, which Scott suggests is ‘particularly favourable to sound’, while the choir, aisles and crossing are rib-vaulted in stone with plaster infill panels. The height from the floor to the top of the ceiling is 71 feet. The fittings, which have been described as ‘of considerable quality and invention’, were designed by John Oldrid during his eighteen month partnership with George Gilbert immediately after Scott's death, and made by Farmer and Brindley. The reredos is in alabaster with inlaid coloured marbles and Skidmore provided a set of elaborate ironwork screens between the choir and side aisles. Scott designed a simple red granite Celtic cross placed on the south wall of the east chapel of the south transept in 1878, in memorial to the First Battalion Royal Scots Regiment from 1857-78, for Major Dean. He did not charge fees for this. The consecration took place in October 1879. By then the western towers had been built up to the level of the nave eaves but a chapter house that Scott had included as part of his scheme was not built until 1890 when it was carried out by John Oldrid.
was due, as was his popularity everywhere, not to such archaic enthusiasm as Street's, or such ambitious and eccentric vigour as Burges's, but rather to an almost feminine elegance, modesty, and repose, which always appealed successfully to the more Protestant sympathies of the great majority of the people. That such a style should eventually be called weak was inevitable, but it never failed to be pleasing.However, it is an austere building made even more austere by the dark colour of its stonework and the dinginess of its interior. It stands on its island site aloof from its classical neighbours. Nevertheless, it is one of Scott's great buildings and the last great design that he produced and almost saw to completion before his death. In 1879 the workers on the cathedral decided to donate a stained-glass window in his memory. This was installed in the east window in the north choir aisle and is inscribed:
To the glory of God and in memory of Sir Gilbert Scott Kt. R.A. LLD., Architect of this Cathedral Born 18 July 1811, Died 27 March 1878 This window is erected by those engaged in carrying out his design …
Scott’s Sketchbook (RIBA), p. 39.
Foskett, R.,The Pictorial History of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh (Pitkin Pictorials, London, 1988), pp. 3, 16, 18.
Youngson, A. J., The Making of Classical Edinburgh 1750-1840 (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1966), p. 216.
Gifford, J., McWilliam, J. and Walker, D., Edinburgh, Buildings of Scotland (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1984), pp. 223, 227-8, 278, 361, 363-6.
Street, A. E., Memoir of George Edmund Street, R. A., 1824-1881 (John Murray, London, 1888), pp. 210-12.
The Builder, XXX, 24 August 1872, pp. 657-9.
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), 29, 87, 113.
McKinstry, S., Rowand Anderson, ‘The Premier Architect of Scotland’ (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1991), p. 6.
Webster, C., and Elliott, J. (eds), ‘A Church as it should be’, The Cambridge Camden Society and its Influence (Shaun Tyas, Stamford, 2000), pp. 299-300.
Strang, C. A., Borders and Berwick, An Illustrated Architectural Guide to the Scottish Borders and Tweed Valley (The Rutland Press, Edinburgh, 1994), p. 138.
Haynes, N., Perth and Kinross, An Illustrated Architectural Guide (The Rutland Press, Edinburgh, 2000), p. 104.
Shepherd, J., Gordon, An Illustrated Architectural Guide (The Rutland Press, Edinburgh, 1994), p. 161.
Crook, J. M. (ed.), The Strange Genius of William Burges, ‘Art Architect’, 1827-1881 (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, 1981), pp. 12-13, 92.
Cole, D., The Work of Sir Gilbert Scott (The Architectural Press, London, 1980), pp. 161-2.
Building News, XXIII, 23 August 1872, p. 140.
Brooke, H., Closed for Business, Ewan Christian’s Restoration of Southwell Minster 1848-1888 (Southwell Minster Cathedral Council, Southwell, 1997), p. 56.
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. 159.
Brownlee, D. B., The Law Courts, The Architecture of George Edmund Street (M.I.T. Press, Cambridge Mass. and London, 1984), pp. 251, 421, n. 38.
The Builder, XXXI, 22 February 1873, p. 140.
The Builder, XXXI, 1 March 1873, p. 165.
Jones, M. D. W., Brighton College 1845-1995(Chichester, Phillimore and Co. Ltd, 1995), p. 44.
Building News, XXIII, 29 November 1872, p. 422.
The Builder, XXXII, 30 May 1874, p. 455.
The Builder, XXXI, 8 February 1873, pp. 97-8.
Scott, G., Sir, Lectures on the Rise and Development of Medieval Architecture delivered at the Royal Academy (John Murray, London, 1879), vol. 1, pp. 120-2, 198, and figure 81.
Pevsner, N., Harris, J. and Antram, N., Lincolnshire, Buildings of England (Penguin Books, London, 1989), p. 459.
Mckean, C., The District of Moray, An Illustrated Architectural Guide (The Rutland Press, Edinburgh, 1987), p. 11.
Pevsner, N. and Sherwood, J., Oxfordshire, Buildings of England (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1974), p. 477.
The Builder, XXXII, 12 December 1874, p. 1030.
The Builder, XXXVII, 18 October 1879, p. 1149.
Stamp, G., An Architect of Promise, George Gilbert Scott Junior (1839-1897) and the Late Gothic Revival (Shaun Tyas, Donnington, 2002), pp. 317, 363.
Fergusson, J., History of the Modern Styles of Architecture (John Murray, London, 1891), vol. II, Plate 219e, pp. 142-3.
http://www.stjamesleith.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/St-James-History-to-1900.pdf, pp. 22-3, 25.