Christian, Ewan, 1814-95
Christian was the architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England from 1850, one of the architects of the Church Building Society and consulting architect for the Charity Commissioners from 1887. He would have known Scott and Street well and been immediately able to recognise their work. Although he worked on about 2,040 buildings in England, he never seems to have done anything in Scotland. His churches were said to be ‘distinguished more for quietness and repose than for architectural effect’. He lived at Hampstead, not far from The Grove, and worked closely with Scott on the report on Chester Cathedral in 1867.
Donaldson, Thomas Leverton, 1795-1885
Thomas Leverton Donaldson was an anti-gothicist who was the first Secretary of the Institute (RIBA) and, at the time of Scott's election, was its Secretary for Foreign Correspondence. He considered himself to be the founder of the Institute and on a table of precedence, which he drew up, placed himself at the top. He was Professor of Architecture at University College, London, between 1841 and 1864, and later the Dean of the College. He had produced some half-hearted attempts at Gothic Revival buildings but he was in reality a classical scholar, with his literary efforts far outweighing the number of buildings that he produced. He came into conflict with Scott over the designs for the Foreign Office and particularly with Scott's correspondence published in The Times
, which nearly saw Scott's gold medal being withdrawn. As Scott said:
Professor Donaldson was so irate at my letter in The Times, which he considered to reflect on English architects in general, that he proposed moving the Institute to reverse the recommendation of their council to award me the annual Royal Medal of the Institute, & was only dissuaded from attempting to inflict that gratuitous dishonour upon me by strong remonstrances.
Donaldson's motion is not even mentioned in the minutes of the RIBA meeting, but his second thoughts, and that is probably all they were, about awarding the medal to Scott badly upset the ultra-sensitive Scott. Donaldson, as the upholder of professionalism, must have been concerned over Scott's disparaging remarks about other living architects. Scott later discovered that Donaldson was ‘Lord Palmerstons private backer up with architectural lore!’ Donaldson had carried out work for Palmerston at Broadlands, his country house in Hampshire in 1854, and in 1859 he dedicated his book, Architecture Numismatica
, to Palmerston, ‘the enlightened advocate of classical architecture’. So it is somewhat surprising if Scott was unaware of Donaldson's connections with Palmerston, as he obviously knew him well, and may have obtained work through him at St. Albans. As he said, Donaldson ‘had been my introducer to the Institute and to the Graphic Society and had for many years acted in a very friendly way to me’. He felt badly betrayed to discover that the person whom he thought was his friend was actually helping Palmerston to oppose his Foreign Office design. Donaldson thereafter remained hostile to Scott.
Edmeston, James, 1791-1867
A search was instigated by the family for a religious architect to whom the young Scott could be articled, religion being central to the family. Eventually the name of Edmeston was suggested by a travelling Bible salesman. Edmeston was the author of some two thousand hymns, including the still very popular ‘Lead us Heavenly Father, lead us’. His architectural qualifications seem to have been of little concern. Rather it was his hymn writing that would have appealed to the evangelical Scotts.
In March 1827, his father took Scott up to London, presumably by coach, and delivered him to Edmeston, who lived at Homerton and had his office in Salvador house at the rear of White Hart Court in Bishopsgate. Scott lived with Mr and Mrs Edmeston at 15, Brooksby’s Walk, Homerton. They were ‘very kind persons, but on the morning after his arrival when Edmeston invited him to inspect his works: ‘Oh horrors! the bubble burst and the fond theme of my youthful imagination was realised in the form of a few second-rate brick houses, with cemented porticoes of two ungainly columns each’. The type of work which Edmeston produced certainly had little appeal to Scott's romantic view of architecture at the time, but he liked Edmeston in every other respect. He describes him as:
a most agreeable companion and a man of liberal and refined mind, thoroughly well informed and well read, in fact a most superior man in everything but his own direct professional work, viewed in its artistic aspect.
Scott's reference to second-rate housing sounds disparaging, but could refer to the system by which houses had to conform to a code of rates under the London Building Act of 1774. Second-rate houses were of two bays and four stories high with basements. Most of the known work Edmeston carried out was in the developing areas to the north-east of London, in the Hackney, Homerton and Leytonstone. Scott was articled to him until March 1831. Springbett was the only other pupil although Moffatt joined later. Edmeston’s library however, was the source of much of Scott’s early knowledge about Classical architecture including volumes such as Vitruvius, Stewart’s Athens
and the works of the Dilettante Society.
Ferrey, Benjamin, 1810-80
Ferrey was a native of Christchurch in Hampshire where his father was a prosperous draper and became its Mayor in 1840. Young Ferrey was apparently ‘well-liked by everyone’, but the lack of historical interest in him as an architect probably stems from the almost uniform dreariness of his numerous works, compared with the flair and imagination that some of his contemporaries were able to exhibit on occasion. Ferrey was the biographer of the Pugins, with his Recollections of A. W. N. Pugin and his father Augustus Pugin
, which was published in 1861. He was articled to the elder Pugin and knew the younger Pugin extremely well, and with this close association with both Pugins, he was at the forefront of the Gothic Revival. Although at its onset he was much better placed than Scott, he was never able to properly capitalise on his initial advantage.
Scott and Ferrey probably first met at one of the meetings of the Architectural Society in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where Ferrey was a committee member when Scott joined before 1835. As with many of his long-standing friendships, Scott is rather coy in his Recollections
about the extent to which he had been helped by Ferrey. They were almost exact contemporaries and had rather similar careers, particularly in their stylistic development from classical to medieval, and although their work was usually acceptable to the Ecclesiologists, neither of them were members of their highly favoured inner group of architects. It is surprising that Scott says that he made St Stephen's Chapel an excuse to obtain an introduction to Pugin, as by 1835, he must have known that Ferrey could have given him an introduction to Pugin.
In 1851, Scott recalled that ‘I joined My friend Ferrey in a short tour in Italy’. Their tour of the continent in 1851 seems to have further cemented their friendship, as almost immediately upon their return, both men worked together to establish the Architectural Museum. In 1853, after the parish church of Doncaster had been burnt down, Scott recalled, that as Ferrey had previously refitted it:
I had thought that we should be appointed Joint Architects as he proposed & I was willing to accept, but, owing to some local differences the arrangement was negatived & I was appointed singly. I did all I could to bring them to what had been suggested by Ferrey but in vain.
In spite of this, Ferrey still seems to have wanted to continue their friendship and two years later Ferrey was a member of a committee which appointed Scott to restore Lichfield Cathedral. In 1862 he was probably influential in them being appointed joint architects for the highly successful complete rebuilding of the great Perpendicular tower of St. Mary's Church at Taunton. They also restored Warmington Church in Northamptonshire between 1875 and 1876 for Lord Carysport, with Ferrey restoring the chancel and Scott the nave and fine western spire. Here Ferrey’s mediocrity is in striking contrast to Scott’s flair.
However the most revealing comment on their relationship came in 1861, in Ferrey's biography of Pugin where he stated that:
If Pugin laid down general rules, Mr. Scott has shown the manner in which they should be applied, pointing out in the most discriminating manner the caution to be observed in following his maxims and suggesting thoughts for new combinations of a most interesting kind in connection with the introduction of Italian details into our own Gothic styles.
So he conferred upon him the greatest accolade that Scott could possibly have wished for, that of being considered as his hero's successor. It is difficult to detect any similar admiration for Ferrey emanating from Scott, but Scott, like everybody else, found him easy to get on with. He was an ideal companion for a sketching tour of Italy, particularly as he too wanted to sketch. He became Scott’s companion for his European forays which Scott later recalled in his Recollections
. For example, after their rendezvous in Berlin in October 1851, an incident occurred at their hotel which Scott found amusing. He recollected:
the affected delight of the Hotel Keeper at seeing me, my vanity accepted it (inwardly) as a tribute to the architect to St. Nicholas' at Hamburg, but unluckily for my selflove he proceeded to tell me that I was the greatest of English poets! and I found out that he took me or pretended to do so for Sir Walter Scott!
They then travelled due south, presumably by train, to Dresden and then along the route which Scott had followed four years before, up the Elbe valley and into the so-called Saxon Switzerland. There, much to Scott's satisfaction, as it was presumably his idea that they should go that way, Ferrey was surprised and delighted with the beautiful scenery, in contrast with the dull countryside that they had been experiencing so far on their journey. They passed through Prague and on to Vienna, a distance of some two hundred miles, which, as it appears to have been accomplished in one day, must have been by train.
In Vienna, Scott and Ferrey ‘got a day for St. Stephens with which I was most agreeably surprised’. This is hardly unexpected, as the great hall-church has a 440 feet tall spire which bears a close resemblance to Scott's proposed spire for St. Nicholas, as well as incorporating other design features which he used on his English churches, such as gabled side-aisles instead of clerestories and the base of the tower forming the entrance porch. Also, much of the cathedral was built about 1300, his favourite period. They then travelled out of Vienna along the road that links it to the sea at Trieste, some 250 miles away, by an open-topped, four-wheeled carriage, called a droshky, a low-slung vehicle where both driver and passengers sit astride a bench. They went by boat from Trieste to Venice.
At Venice, all was enchantment! No three days of my life afford me such rich Art & Archaeological recollections. We both worked hard and did much. I here met Ruskin whom I knew before and we spent a most delightful evening with him.
At Venice I also made three other valuable acquaintances Mr. Gambier Parry, of Hynham Court - David Roberts & E. W. Cooke. We urged Roberts to take Vienna on his way home which gave rise to two noble pictures of the interior of St. Stephens.
David Roberts (1796-1864), was perhaps the most distinguished British architectural painter of the time and specialised in Middle-Eastern and European scenes. Edward William Cooke was also a painter and knew Ferrey from Pugin’s office where they were fellow pupils. This was the first time that Scott met Gambier Parry, who was returning from an extended tour of Europe with his second wife, having been married early in August. Scott was soon to discover that their visit was too late in the year for good weather. During ‘my first night under an Italian roof, I was nearly flooded out of my bedroom’, by torrents of rain. He and Ferrey then went off to sketch and study the buildings of the city together.
My impressions of St. Marks were stronger than I can describe. I considered it and still continue to do so the most impressive interior I have ever seen. The Venetian Gothic, excepting the Ducal Palace, disappointed me at first, but by degrees it grew upon me greatly … the Byzantine palaces also attracted my attention a good deal especially the Fondaco dei Turchi …
He made a sketch of this ancient palace which in the seventeenth century had become a warehouse for Turkish merchandise. In spite of having been built as late as the thirteenth century, it is in the round-arched style which Scott and Ruskin described as Byzantine although, at that time, it was in an appalling state. Ruskin, in 1853, in the third volume of The Stones of Venice
gives a particularly vivid description of this then ‘ghastly ruin’. The whole of the facade on to the Grand Canal consists of two stories of open arcades of tightly-packed round-headed arches. Scott was particularly impressed with architectural treatment and was able to use it on one of his proposals for the Foreign Office. It was so harshly restored in 1869 that today it looks like just another nineteenth century building.
As Scott and Ferrey understood that Gothic architecture derived from the structure and function of the building, it is not surprising that they were disappointed at seeing how much Gothic architecture in Venice seemed like applied decoration, but what is surprising, in view of his commitment to Gothic, is Scott's enthusiasm for the interior of St Mark's. It seems astonishing that he was able to write in 1864, nearly thirteen years later, that he had not seen anything more impressive, although it is a Byzantine interior and he had visited many fine Gothic interiors in the intervening years. But, of course, Scott liked domes and St Mark's has no less than five domes.
After Venice, Scott and Ferrey spent 22 October in Padua where they ‘worked tremendously hard at St Antonio & the Arena Chapel & great was our delight in both’. The next day they travelled sixty miles by train to Verona, stopping off on the way for a cursory glance at Vicenza, where Scott sketched the Palazzo Da Schio. This rather disdainful treatment of the home city of Andrea Palladio, the great hero of English eighteenth century classicists, is as much as could be expected from two Gothic Revivalists. Verona however, ‘charmed us beyond measure & we worked very hard for a day & a half’. Scott and Ferrey then travelled twenty miles south to Mantua on 24 October. They seem to have been travelling as fast as any modern sight-seeing tourist, having seen Padua, Vicenza and Verona in the course of three days. Scott was particularly interested in the combination of brick and stone, which he called constructive polychromy, in the Gothic buildings of the area. He mentions that this appears on the Ducal Palace at Mantua, which was commenced in 1302, where the window arches are formed in alternating patterns of brick and stone. He made two sketches of this and also sketched the cathedral. From Mantua they went by Modena to Bologna and somewhere along the route they met up with the twenty-four year-old eldest son of the well-known castle architect Anthony Salvin, also called Anthony, who acted as their interpreter. They probably knew the father through the Institute, where he was one of the earliest members and was a Vice-President when Scott was elected in 1849. Scott was particularly impressed by the Mercanzia in Bologna, built between 1382-4, with its open loggia of pointed arches on the ground floor and traceried windows above. ‘Its front is of exquisite beauty, and is almost wholly of brick, including carvings of the richest character and the most beautiful execution’.
They then went by train, sixty miles southwards, to Florence, where Scott sketched the cathedral and bapistry:
Again we had three days of the purest delight. I worked violently & the last day timing myself strictly to the work I was to do every hour of the day; & at last to my intense disgust & dismay forgot San Miniato! Next to my three Venice days, these at Florence occupy the choicest corner of my art recollections.
At Santa Croce, which was the closest to Gothic architecture that Scott saw in Florence, he was particularly interested in the apse with its coloured glass and frescoes, and ‘spent a considerable time in it, carefully examining its detail’. Scott and Ferrey then travelled to Siena ‘and had the three hours hardest work in my life & the pleasantist It was really too bad to hurry in such a manner but Ferrey was in fits at the idea of crossing the Alps in the Snow & we had reached the end of October’. No sketches appear to survive as the products of Scott's hard work, but he certainly saw the cathedral, which was built between 1245 and 1380, at the time of his favourite style. They then travelled sixty miles north-westwards, and ‘spent one working day & a Sunday at Pisa again with unalloyed delight & again worked hard & got much’. There is little evidence of what excited him so much; presumably he was impressed by the famous group of white marble Romanesque buildings, which includes the cathedral, with its small dome, the baptistry and the Leaning Tower. From there, at last, they started their homeward journey on the coastal railway, nearly one hundred miles to Genoa, stopping at Spezia on the way, and then onto Milan. ‘Fear of snow lead us to pass through Pavia without stopping’, and they therefore only allowed themselves one day to explore the great city of Milan with its numerous medieval monuments and do not appear to have had time to do any sketching.
‘Haste alas, without good speed’, as thirty miles to the north, they found themselves ‘ankle deep in snow’ as they stepped off the train at Como, ‘after only half-an-hour's fall, and in the very beginning of November’. This was the end of the railway, as the St. Gotthard tunnel was not to open until nearly thirty years later, and the travellers had to resort to slower and more hazardous transport through the Alps in worsening weather.
In going by diligence from Como to the pass one of our horses jumped over a precipice. I was asleep but Ferrey who saw it woke me up in dismay - happily … a tree caught him & we drew him up again by ropes .
Presumably the weather became so bad that the diligence could not proceed, as Scott says that, ‘we had to cross the Alps after all th[r]ough 6 feet of snow, and in s[l]edges (ie deal boxes nailed on ash poles) with some twenty men to dig a way for us & nothing to be seen for snow & fog!’ Fog persisted for most of the homeward journey. As they had feared, they had left it far too late to return but their friendship remained firm.
Kempthorne, Sampson, 1809-73
Kempthorne was a pupil of Annesley Voysey (c.1794-1839) and partner of Richard Suter, the Surveyor of the Fishmonger's Company. Scott formed a friendship with Kempthorne, who was two years older, and found him to be ‘a very worthy & religious young architect & I used occasionally to follow at Mathematics with him’. In 1833, Kempthorne was admitted as a student to The Royal Academy. In December 1834, Scott visited his brother, Thomas, at Goring and it was there that he received a letter from Sampson Kempthorne ‘telling me that a set of chambers next his in Carlton Chambers Regent Street, was vacant, & that if I liked to take them, he could find employment for my leisure time, in assisting him with his Union Workhouses’. Kempthorne's influx of work came from the enactment of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, which aimed to ensure a better standard of provision for the poor. Three Commissioners were appointed on 18 August 1834 to ensure that the provisions of the Act were carried out and one of these, George Nicholls (1781-1865) was a friend of Kempthorne's father. Consequently Kempthorne was given the job of preparing standard designs for the new union workhouses.
Ten of Kempthorne's standard designs for different sized workhouses were published as an appendix to the first report of the Poor Law Commissioners in 1835. This shows a variety of plain classical structures as an entrance block with various forms of segregated accommodation wings for men, women and children in three stories projecting from the rear. The Architectural Magazine
declared that Kempthorne's barrack-like model plans were ‘excellently arranged’.
When Scott set up on his own by moving into Carlton Chambers, next to Kempthorne, he was clearly thinking that his practice would be similar to those he had already experienced, which were typical of the 1830's, and his enthusiasm for medieval buildings was only a pleasurable pastime with little relevance to architecture. Kempthorne's call for assistance on his workhouses must have seemed to Scott to have been the ideal arrangement. He would have a modest income to pay his rent and living expenses, which it seems were very simple, and the opportunity to build up his own practice. But by the 1860's, Scott would have wanted to disassociate himself from Kempthorne, calling his work there ‘more mean even than that of my pupilage’. But perhaps the break was more gradual than is suggested. Scott had only a few weeks of workhouse experience at the time he quit Kempthorne's in 1835 and could not have been considered an expert unless he claimed an association with Kempthorne, who was the acknowledged authority on workhouse design. The two men continued to occupy adjacent offices at Carlton Chambers until 1837, when Kempthorne moved to Clarages Street off Piccadilly. It therefore seems probable that they remained on friendly terms and had informal professional contact. Scott's somewhat unsatisfactory account possibly stems from embarrassment at the way in which he used his friend's name to further his ambitions and start his own practice.
Moffatt, William Bonython, 1812-87
Edmeston had employed Moffatt's father as a builder, who had persuaded Edmeston to take his son on as a pupil. Born in Cornwall, young Moffatt suffered from lameness as a result of a fever, and although uneducated, was ‘remarkably intelligent’. He was an expert joiner and cabinet maker, ‘which with the brightness of his uncultivated parts won for him in my mind a sort of regretful respect’. Edmeston opened an office at Hackney, which Moffatt attended and Scott also moved there. The pupils got on well together, with Scott instructing Moffatt in drawing and the office procedures, and presumably Moffatt being able to apply his knowledge of building to Scott's advantage. After Scott completed his pupilage in March 1831, Moffatt moved to the Bishopsgate office and, on the advice of Scott, attended Maddox's classes. From 1835, gaining workhouse commissions, Scott took on one assistant and asked Moffatt to help him with the working drawings ‘which he did with the utmost diligence and efficiency’. When building started, Moffatt became Clerk of Works and moved into the area, riding around to the various sites. Scott rapidly realised that the new Poor Law Reform Act would require a massive building programme. In fact, even by August 1835, 112 Unions had been formed and by the following year this number had risen to 351. Scott, with Moffatt's assistance, set about trying to exploit his rapidly growing expertise in workhouse design to produce for himself sufficient funds to provide for his family and for his own future marriage. It was:
an era of turmoil, and of violent activity and exertion. For weeks I almost lived on horseback canvassing newly formed unions then alternated periods of close, hard, work in my little office at Carlton Chambers, & coach journeys chiefly by night followed by meetings of Guardians searching out of materials, & riding from union to union, often riding across unknown bits of country after dark.
Moffatt, to Scott's evident surprise, knew an influential magistrate in Wiltshire who invited him to visit there. This led to Moffatt being appointed architect to the Amesbury Union Workhouse. Scott and Moffatt did all the drawings together and work started in May 1836, costing £4,678 when it was completed in 1837. Moffatt felt that with the numerous unions being formed in the West Country, he could use his contacts in that area to expand the work of the office. However, he told Scott that he felt that ‘his youthful appearance’, in fact he was only a year younger than Scott, was a hindrance to getting work and suggested that if he could say that ‘he had a partner already in practice whose name he could use to back him’, this problem might be resolved. They therefore agreed to form a partnership to procure and build workhouses in the west, with each partner keeping other work that they had obtained to themselves. According to Scott:
The effect of Moffatts new arrangement was magical! He followed up Union hunting into Devonshire & Cornwall with almost uniform success and my poor little quartette of works round my old home soon became as nothing when compared with the engagements which flowed in upon us as partners. Moffatt's own exertions were almost superhuman, & when I recollect that no railways came to his help I feel perfectly amazed to think what he effected!
The partners were on a relentless treadmill. Between the years 1835 and 1841, Scott, or Moffatt, or Scott and Moffatt as a partnership, built about forty workhouses in different parts of England, with the main groups in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Wiltshire, with smaller groups, presumably the Scott areas, in Staffordshire, Lincolnshire and Essex. Scott gives the impression of a continuous state of intense activity, which is probably correct, but their work was uneven. Before the completion of the first five Union Houses in 1836, Oundle in Northampton and Williton in Somerset had been given to them, but then the partners must have had about a year's anxiety as to where the next job would come from, which resulted in the intense lobbying that Scott recalls.
Williton appears to have been the first building built in accordance with the new layout devised by Scott and Moffatt, or perhaps just Moffat, as it first appeared in his area of influence. In 1836, the partners produced an explanation of the particular benefits of their plan, which was sent to the unions that they were canvassing. They were clearly trying to produce answers to the criticisms that had been levelled at Kempthorne's standard layouts. Their most obvious change was to make the entrance through an arched gateway in the centre of a detached single-storey entrance range, containing the porters lodge, the chapel and the board room where the public had contact with the inmates but without being involved in the harsh realities of their supervised day-to-day existence. This took place in a three storey range parallel to the entrance range, in the centre of which was an octagonal three or four storey tower, often capped with a lantern. This, as in Kempthorne's plans, was the residence of the Master and Matron, but unlike the model plans, which assumed that they would be married, provision was made for the octagon to be divided into separate residences. But the main improvement was the provision of a separate infirmary block at the rear of the workhouse, instead of the sick, often with infectious diseases, being accommodated at the ends of the main sleeping areas. The new separate entrance block, with its big double height archway, also provided an opportunity for some sort of architectural display. The arch was very classical in detail, with its voussoirs picked out and placed between pilasters, capped by a pediment. Inside the archway there was usually stone vaulting. The lower wings on either side of the arch, containing the chapel and boardroom, had well proportioned Georgian windows separated by pilasters.
The circular shows the partners’ genuine concern about the paupers who had to inhabit their buildings and these changes were clearly designed to give the workhouse a more human and welcoming face, which in some instances, such as Horncastle, was further emphasised by a long approach avenue. The enthusiasm with which they set about implementing the conditions of the Poor Law Act perhaps indicates that the youthful partners believed that it would produce a better life for the poor, and that the criticisms that were already being levelled at the system could be answered by improvements to the design of the building. Although personal contacts provided the firm with its initial commissions, competitions increasingly became an important means of getting work for Scott and Moffatt. Every week they went to Peele's Coffee House in Fleet Street, where all the newspapers were kept, to search those from the provinces for advertisements for workhouse competitions. Scott was later extremely critical of the competition arrangements, which ‘were open in every sense and each competitor was at liberty to take any step he thought good’. The Guardians, beyond knowing how many paupers they required to be housed, seemed to have had little idea of their building requirements and only allowed the minimum possible time for the submission of schemes.
Moffatt had apparently overcome his misgivings about his appearance as he would travel to the place where the workhouse was to be built and interview the Chairman and Clerk of the Board along with any other Guardians who had ideas about the proposed building. He then returned to Carlton Chambers, where ‘we set to work with violence to make the design & prepare the competition drawings often working all night as well as all day’. Moffatt ‘was the best arranger of a plan the hardest worker & the best hand at advocating the merits of what he had to propose I ever met with … Constantly communicating with the most experienced governors’ to improve its layout, while Scott probably drew the perspectives, which he felt were ‘regarded as attractive elements in a competition’. In May 1834, he wrote to The Architectural Magazine
defending the use of highly finished drawings showing the proposed building set in an attractive landscape with water-colour washes indicating the form of the building. They would then rush at the last moment to the General Post Office at St. Martin's-le-Grand, near St. Paul's Cathedral, or The Angel at Islington, to send off their drawings, or to set off themselves with their work, to submit to the Guardians. Scott describes the excitement that he felt travelling on the box seat of a mail coach which ‘cleared eleven miles an hour all the way down, stoppings included! It was a splendid perfection of machinery, but its fate was sealed the great lines of railway being in rapid progress’.
One of the many benefits to basing their practice in London were the lines of mail coaches radiating from London which enabled Scott and Moffatt to reach all parts of England, and this pattern was reinforced when the first railway terminals were opened in London in 1838. In the coaching days, Moffatt ‘would start off by the mail travell [sic] all night, meet the Board of Guardians, & perhaps win the competition & return during the next night & set to work on another design’. As Scott recalls, prior to the submission date for schemes there was nothing to prevent the competitors advocating the merits of their individual schemes to any of the Guardians:
While on the day on which the designs were to be examined the competitors were usually waiting in the ante-room & were called in one by one to give personal explanations & the decision was often announced then & there to the assembled candidates. Moffatt was most successful in this kind of fighting having an instinctive perception of which men to aim at pleasing and of how to meet their views and to address himself successfully to meet their particular temperaments.
The peak of workhouse building for Scott and Moffatt were the two years of 1837 and 1838, when thirty buildings were being built at an average cost of £5,000. This would produce for the partnership over £5,000 of fees.
Although Scott later expressed dislike for the competition system, Scott and Moffatt appear to have entered many of the competitions for major institutional buildings throughout England during this period. As with the workhouses, in this work, it seems that the planning was usually done by Moffatt and the elevations by Scott.
The vigour with which Moffatt entered upon these and his assiduous energy in obtaining the opinions of practical authorities on questions of arrangement, was beyond all praise. These competition drawings were usually prepared at his private house at Kennington where he gave up all his Sitting Rooms, and peopled the house with clerks - who had all their meals together and had half an hour for a good game after dinner in his grounds - every other minute of the day being devoted to the closest work in which he & often I, joined as closely as any of them.
Their first major success in this area came early in 1841, with a competition for the Infant Orphan Asylum in Wanstead, for Dr Andrew Reed (1787-1862), a well-known philanthropist and independent minister, who had already founded other similar institutions in London. Scott said, ‘Nothing could exceed the energy with which Moffatt threw himself into this competition, the most important by far which we had then entered’. It would seem that Moffatt took the lead in the big institutional competitions; he had the energy and industry to produce large scale submissions to the authorities in the incredibly short periods of time which were then usually allowed for competitions.
Moffatt had no involvement with St Nicholas and while Scott was away, he remained at Spring Gardens working on speculative schemes, including one in 1845 for housing 350,000 people in new villages within four to ten miles of central London. This was intended to alleviate the pressures of housing in the centre, and although apparently philanthropic in inspiration, also seems to have had a commercial basis. He was involved with the Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrial Classes, which was founded in 1841, and he built their first housing scheme in Old St Pancras Road, London, in 1847. The work probably came to Scott and Moffatt from Henry Roberts who made favourable comments about Moffatt's design.
Moffatt excelled as a planner. He was brilliant at organising complicated requirements into a cohesive architectural form, but this did not fit in at all with Scott's version of a basically ecclesiastical practice where these skills would have had little use. So in about 1845, Scott felt that ‘a constantly increasing desire had grown up in my mind to terminate my partnership with Moffatt. My wife was most anxious on the subject and was constantly pressing it upon my attention, but my courage failed me & I could not muster pluck to broach it’. Moffatt regarded himself and Scott as equal partners, but Caroline
was probably concerned that as the long-term benefits emanating from St Nicholas were due entirely to her husband's exertions, Moffatt had no claim to these rewards, particularly as she and the children had had to suffer Scott's prolonged absences. Another reason that Caroline took the initiative may be connected with Boston Church. The completion of the first phase of restoration was in 1845 and this would have been overseen by Moffatt in Scott's absence. Here, Caroline's father and brother may have been offended by Moffatt's treatment of them. Scott makes the point that Moffatt had ‘got into a sad way of offending employers’. If this refers to Boston, it would explain why Scott was not commissioned to continue with the restoration in 1851.
Moffatt’s extravagances, such as keeping four horses, were leading the practice into debt, and he was also indulging in the current mania of railway speculation. He was, Scott said, ‘severly bitten, so much so as to be absolutely wild, & the line of practice he was actually getting into partook so much of a speculative character as to be decidedly dangerous’. The rules of partnership meant that both men could be responsible for each other's debts to the full extent of their personal assets, so Caroline's concerns about Moffatt’s lifestyle, including speculations, were probably very genuine. Not only could his debts loose her her house and home, but could effect her inheritance from her father. In fact the partnership was in debt, ‘having been 10 years in practice of the most unprecedented activity, to have put by next to nothing’, and with a declining work-load the situation was ‘decidedly dangerous’ and they could ill afford extravagances. Scott on the other hand, comes over as cautious and uncertain over money matters and it was Caroline,
with a strong business sense inherited from her father that would have 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. They valued the probable income from their various jobs and other outstanding bills and divided the work into three; one part each and the other third to the bank.
This arrangement turned out better for me than for Moffatt as his works having a certain amount of speculation about them he lost a good deal of the estimated value of some of them. As, however, they were in their own nature & origin his works it did not seem unfair he that should stand the brunt of their speculative character.
So presumably poor Moffatt was landed with that grandiose scheme for villages around London, which although on paper was extremely valuable had, in fact, little chance of being realised and producing any income at all. He also took over the difficult commission to complete St. Mary's, Nottingham, with its central tower problems, perhaps to Scott's relief, but he successfully carried out this work including the new west front. Scott seems to have been uneasy about breaking-up the partnership. Moffatt clearly had no intention of ending the partnership and the severance was entirely Scott's, or at least Caroline's, idea. He acknowledges that while Moffatt was ‘very talented very practical & very industrious’, he himself was too ‘quiet and retiring’ to get on in the ‘rough world’.
Moffatt supplied just the stuff I was wanting in. He was thoroughly fitted to cope with the world; he saw through character in a moment and could shape himself precisely to the necessities of the case & the character of the people he had to do with. This enabled me, through a sort of apprenticeship of 10 years to learn to rough it on my own account. Strange to say his instincts failed him as time went on, & he gradually lost his power of acting wisely …
The arrangement that the bank should be paid the income from one third of the work of the partnership meant effectively that a third of the earnings of the partnership went straight to the bank who would have wanted the debts to be re-paid as quickly as possible. Scott had acquired the works which could produce a steady income but Moffatt turned to the apparently lucrative railway enterprises in the hope of redeeming his position. In one month in 1844, 357 projects were advertised which attracted a total capital of £332,000,000. Some were honest undertakings, but many were ‘bubble projects’, set up by the unscrupulous to fleece the unwary. Moffatt seems to have stayed on at 20 Spring Gardens for about two or three years, then moving up the street to 9 Spring Gardens, and later to other offices across London.
Moffatt’s moment of real success occurred when he won a competition for the new Assize Courts and Judges Lodgings at Taunton, which were built between 1855-8. He had a short-lived partnership with an engineer, Alfred Bevan, but this seems to have been dissolved after only one year. He ended up being arrested and imprisoned in the Queen's Bench Prison in Southwark for debts of about £1,000, in 1860. Scott contributed twenty pounds, and his legal expenses were paid, in an odd reversal of roles, by Charles Strange, who had worked for Moffatt from March 1859 until his imprisonment. At his release, after six months, aged forty-eight, his architectural practice seems to have finished, and although he lived for another twenty-seven years, there is nothing which can be ascribed to him after 1860.
He must have become a disgruntled spectator to Scott’s rise to fame and fortune as his own career fizzled out. Little wonder that immediately after Scott’s death, he tried to muscle-in on Scott’s success by claiming a completely fictitious involvement in the design of St Nicholas.
Pugin, Augustus Welby Northmore, 1812-52
As Scott was visiting his rather pedestrian effort at Hulme in 1842, he must have seen another church which was nearing completion. This church would have shown him how stringent economy could help, rather than hinder good design. It is built of brick, but has been described as ‘impressive, well composed, and in a significant way original’ . St. Wilfred's, Hulme, was an early masterpiece of the young A. W. N. Pugin and its significance is that it showed architects like Scott, that by using the essence of the Gothic style, a way could be found out of the straight-jacket of the Commissioners' style. Pugin's experience and deep knowledge of Gothic, led him to produce a remarkably self-confident design. When Scott saw this building designed by a younger man than himself, albeit a Roman Catholic, he must have taken another step towards an understanding of the true nature of Gothic. He, no doubt, felt that with his own knowledge of old Gothic buildings, if only he had the confidence, he too could produce something equally exciting. Pugin was pointing the way forward for architects, but they needed the support of the Church of England clergy, and this is when the Cambridge Camden Society suddenly appeared.
Scott had read Pugin's articles in The Dublin Review
. These appeared in May 1841 and February 1842, and although they were published anonymously, it is clear from their uncompromising style and content, that they were the work of the younger Pugin. In 1878 Scott recalled that:
I was awakened from my Slumber by the thunder of Pugins writings I well remember the enthusiasm to which one of them excited me one night when travelling by railway in the first years of their existence. I was from that moment a new man. Old Things (in My practice) had passed away and behold all things had become new or rather modernism had passed away from me & every aspiration of My heart had become mediaevil [sic]. What had for 15 years been a labour of love only now became the one business the one aim the overmastering object of my life. I cared for nothing as regards My Art but the revival of Gothic architecture. I did not know Pugin but his image in My imagination was like my Guardian Angel & I often dreamed that I knew him.
He was introduced to Pugin's Contrasts
, subtitled, A Parallel between the noble edifices of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, and similar buildings of the present day; shewing the present decay of taste
, published in 1836. Although Contrasts
had a text, the main message was powerfully conveyed in a series of devastating plates, contrasting what he conceived to be the buildings of medieval England, with buildings, serving similar purposes, in Regency England. He ridicules the work of revered architects such as Sir Robert Taylor, George Dance, but particularly upsetting was his vitriolic attacks on living architects including Sir Robert Smirke, William Wilkins and the Inwoods. Even the highly respected Soane did not escape.
A meeting finally took place between Scott and Pugin, in about 1842. Having seen and sketched the ruins of St Stephen's Chapel in January in 1835, Scott was very upset that this ‘Gothic ruin of unrivalled beauty’, should be demolished to make way for Barry's St Stephen's Hall as an approach route to the new Central Lobby of the Houses Parliament, particularly as the fire had revealed it to be a fine example of the early Decorated style.
I made my crusade in favour of St. Stephens an excuse for writing to Pugin and to my almost tremulous delight I was invited to call. He was tremendously jolly & shewed almost too much bon-homie to accord with my romantic expectations & I very rarely saw him again though I became a devoted reader of his written, & visitor of his erected works and a greedy recipient of every tale about him, & report of what he said or did - A new phase had come over me, thoroughly en rapport with my early taste, but in utter discord with the ‘fitful fever’ of my Poor Law activity. I was in fact a new man, Though that man was, according to the trite saying, the true son of my boyhood.
In fact, there would have been no point in discussing the retention of St Stephen's by that time as most of the chapel had already been demolished by the Office of Works for safety reasons, although work did not start on the new approach road until 1845. Perhaps it was a useful pretext to contact Pugin though. As Scott says after that meeting, ‘I very rarely saw him again, though I became a devoted reader of his written and a visitor of his erected works’, and he used extensive quotations from Pugin’s True Principles
in his Remarks
which he published in 1857. He remained Scott’s architectural hero throughout his life.
Roberts, Henry, 1803-76
Roberts was a Londoner, a pupil of Charles Fowler, and who in 1825 became an assistant to the renowned Sir Robert Smirke with whom he stayed for four years, but he had built nothing of importance by himself. Smirke had a reputation for sound construction using concrete foundations, and he repaired Laing's ill-fated Custom House after its collapse. The old livery hall of the Fishmonger's Company, which was built after the Great Fire, had to be demolished to make way for the new approaches to London Bridge and, in September 1831, one month after the new bridge had been opened, the City of London Corporation announced that an architectural competition would be held for the design of the new hall. The first prize was awarded, in March 1832, to the twenty-nine year-old Henry Roberts. Much of the detail of Roberts' Fishmonger's Hall resembles Smirke's classical detailing, particularly the use of Smirke's favourite Ionic order. Soon after the announcement of his success in March 1832, Roberts single-handedly set to work to produce all the detailed constructional drawings required to enable the builders to tender precisely for the cost of the building. This mode of procedure, which was comparatively new at the time, had great advantages for the prospective building owner compared to the old system where individual tradesmen quoted only for their part of the work and overall co-ordination, as such, was in the hands of a Clerk of Works. The new system not only let the owner know exactly how much the final expenditure would be, but by inviting tenders from various builders, he could be sure that he was getting it at the lowest cost, and by inserting a completion date in the contract, he knew when he could get his building. This arrangement was only made possible by the emergence of the large general contractors, such as Grissell and Peto, who were capable of producing every part of a building, from brickwork to joinery. But it did give the architect the task of producing all the drawings and specifications for the entire project, before tenders could be invited. But by May Roberts was reported as being ill ‘from the effects of over exertion in preparing the Drawings’, so it must have been soon after that he invited Scott to join him at his office in Suffolk Street, just off the Haymarket. The young Scott’s detailed examination of his drawings and specifications must have impressed Fowler, who probably recommended him to Roberts for the work as Roberts had been his pupil. Scott was Robert's only clerk and stayed with him for two years.
Stevenson, John James, 1831-1908
Stevenson, like Jackson, entered architecture late, having first attended Glasgow University and trained for the ministry in Edinburgh. After a tour of Italy he decided to become an architect, and in 1856 joined the office of David Bryce in Edinburgh, where he stayed for two years before coming south to enter Scott's office. He then returned to Glasgow, where he built many new churches in partnership with Campbell Douglas, and although he is not notable as a church restorer, this did not prevent him from delivering an outspoken attack on Scott's church restorations at the Institute in 1877.
After 1866, when Stevenson was involved in ‘Greek’ Thomson’s assault against Scott over the Glasgow University commission, he had inherited a fortune, dissolved his Glasgow partnership and ‘spent two leisurely years writing and holidaying in Paris and Broadstairs’. In 1870 he settled in London and built his own house, the Red House on Bayswater Hill, which became the prototype Queen Anne town house. He was now in the fore-front of the Queen Anne Movement with other well-heeled alumni of Scott’s, such as Bodley, Garner and Jackson. He entered into partnership with E. R. Robson in 1871. Robson had been a member of the Institute since 1860 and had probably invited Stevenson to Conduit Street to give a paper although Stevenson did not become a member until the year after Scott’s death.
On 28 May 1877, with the President, Charles Barry, in the chair, Stevenson delivered his bombshell. It was entitled ‘Architectural Restoration: its principles and practice’. In it he cites Scott’s ‘admirable address on the evils of restoration’, read to the Institute in 1862 and then said:
It is difficult after reading his address to believe that any more old churches would be destroyed by restoration. Yet the process has been going steadily on, approved by clergy and architects, the press and the public.
However a paper published by the Institute in 1865, as a result of Scott’s address, he says, ‘seems to me to consist largely of recommendations for their destruction’. This was a short pamphlet entitled Conservation of Ancient Monument and Remains – General Advice to the Promoters of the Restoration of Ancient Buildings
, which Scott as a member of the sub-committee of the Institute drew up as a directive for builders and Clerks of Works. In spite of Stevenson’s criticisms it was re-issued in 1888 in a revised and enlarged form.
Stevenson bewailed the fact that in the last thirty years so many old churches have lost valuable features, particularly those installed since the Reformation. He partly blamed the muddled nature of the Advice
, as he called the pamphlet, where one paragraph said ‘a vigilant guard should be kept … against the theory that a restored church must be purged of all features subsequent to some favourite period’, while another stated that ‘one main object should be to get rid of modern additions put up without regard to architectural propriety’. He then spitefully said that he assumed that Sir Gilbert Scott had applied the word ‘modern’ in the case of the screen at Canterbury Cathedral to include work from the period of Charles II ‘or probably even of Edward VI’. Stevenson had probably seen Scott’s report of March 1875 in The Archaeological Journal
, where he hoped that the fourteenth century screens would be faithfully restored from existing evidence ‘untampered with by modern ideas or prepossessions!’ But two days before he delivered his paper, Stevenson had gone to Canterbury and, although the work had been approved by the church authorities, he must have been somewhat dismayed to find that nothing of Scott’s was to be seen.
Scott was, so Stevenson claimed, excluding churches from Ruskin’s advice that old buildings should be carefully preserved and he was encouraging clergy ‘to restore their churches from motives of religion’. He then quoted Ruskin’s famous passage from ‘The Lamp of Memory’ in The Seven Lamps of Architecture
Take proper care of your monuments, and you will not need to restore them … Watch an old building with anxious care; guard it as best you may, and at any cost, from the influence of dilapidation. Count its stones as you would the jewels of a crown; set watches about it as if at the gates of a besieged city; bind it together with iron where it loosens; stay it with timber where it declines; do not care about the unsightliness of the aid; better a crutch than a lost limb; and do this tenderly, and reverently, and continually, and many a generation will still be born and pass away beneath its shadow.
Scott had used this passage as the basis of an additional note to the Plea
in 1850, and again in his address of 1862, but Stevenson was now resurrecting it to attack Scott. However it was not only Scott who was under fire: Street was criticised as were Waterhouse, Butterfield and even Bodley. Modern medieval restorers have filled old buildings with those:
dreary ranges of long benches covered with sticky-looking varnish, the Minton tile pavements, the new stained glass, harsh gaudy purple or dull and colourless, or the gimcrack brasswork in screens and gas-brackets, with their vulgar blue paint, from the eminent firm of Skidmore.
Stevenson’s paper was a long, wide-ranging and somewhat repetitive attack, but in his closing remarks he made it clear whom he felt were the main culprits. It is ‘the knowledge and skill of the architect which destroys the authenticity of the building as a record of the past. He is by profession a clever forger of old documents’.
Stevenson is now well-known as a designer of houses in the so-called Queen Anne style, and, as Jackson said, for his work on the London Board Schools, which he did in association with another graduate of the ‘Spring Gardens Academy’, Edward Robert Robson (1835-1917), whom Jackson does not mention. In 1866 he was elected an honorary member of the Spring Gardens Sketching Club until its dissolution in 1890.