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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811–1878)

Architect and writer. Born at Gawcott (Bucks), son of a curate of evangelical tendencies. After training as an architect with James Edmeston, he set up in a practice, formalised in 1838, with W.B. Moffat, which specialised in workhouses. After somewhat hesitant and unscholarly beginnings in ecclesiastical architecture, Scott became enthused by the spirit of the Cambridge Camdenian Society, which he joined in 1842. Scott’s mature ecclesiastical gothic, as embodied in such churches as St George’s, Doncaster (1853–58) and All Souls, Halifax (1856–59), is on the whole orthodox English, and his wide experience restoring English cathedrals reinforced his respect for the national tradition. He did, however, accommodate plate glass and cast iron in his buildings, and after protracted wrangles with the government over the design of the new Foreign Office (built 1863–74), Scott even relinquished gothic in favour of Italianate classicism. The secular gothic which he had originally intended to use for the Foreign Office, was used for the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station, designed 1865–66. In his Memorial to Prince Albert for Hyde Park (1862–72) whilst recreating the general effect of a mediaeval shrine, Scott accommodated a degree of historical eclecticism, using an impressive array of sculptural talents, as well as the craft skills of the metalworker Francis Skidmore and the mosaicist Salviati. Scott was president of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1873 to 1876.

Bibliography (updated 2023): T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 63, 222–23, 358, 399–440, 481, 495; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 4–5; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 147–48; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, Liverpool, 2010, pp. 16–18, 30–31, 247–50; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, pp. 224–25; G. Stamp, ‘Scott, Sir George Gilbert (1811–1878)’, ODNB, 2004; P. Usherwood et al, Public Sculpture of North-East England, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 26–27; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 11–13.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2011

Scott, George Gilbert, Sir

Sir George Gilbert Scott, London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company, albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s; NPG Ax39920 © National Portrait Gallery, London