Maybe the name is familiar, perhaps it’s not, it should be! He designed the Midland Hotel at St Pancras Station. He was the leading architect of the 19th century Gothic Revival. The term ‘Gothic Revival’ applies to the 19th-century use of designs based on the art and architecture of medieval Europe. His roll-call of commissions included 96 new churches, hundreds of church restorations, restorations on 42 Cathedrals and Abbeys, 82 public buildings, including 38 Workhouses and 60 domestic buildings, specialising in parsonages and vicarages.
What is his connection with Northampton? Let’s start with his family. George was the grandson of a well-known clergyman and friend of the abolitionist Rev John Newton (author of “Amazing Grace”). All three of Thomas’s sons were clergymen, one of whom was George’s father. George’s brother Thomas also succeeded their father as Rector of Wappenham. Apart from being surrounded by a family of Anglican clergy he had some links with Northamptonshire too.
He was born in Gawcott near Buckingham and died in London. He is buried in Westminster Abbey. He appears in relief on one of the friezes of the Albert Memorial next to Augustus Pugin. The overall memorial was designed by Scott.
In Northampton, Scott’s work can be seen in the St Edmund Hospital, originally the Northampton Workhouse (1836) but now much reduced in size and the new St Andrew’s Hospital Chapel (1863). He also personally managed the restoration of St Peter’s church between 1849-1851 and the restoration and extension of Holy Sepulchre, Northampton 1851-18691.
Sadly, George Gilbert Scott’s Gothic Revival work was largely rejected throughout the 20th century. The turning point probably came during the campaign to save one of his greatest works, the Midland Hotel at St Pancras Station (now known as the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel). For more about Scott and his work see GilbertScott.org.
© 2021, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.