Following on from yesterday’s google doodle of the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras, to to commemorate the 200th birthday of Sir George Gilbert Scott, I had a quick look at Scott’s connections to Lichfield.
Scott was the Lichfield cathedral architect from 1855 to 1878, first restoring the interior of the Cathedral and then working on the exterior, including the West Front which had been vandalised during the civil war and covered in roman cement in an earlier restoration.You can read more about the restoration at the Lichfield Cathedral website.
It seems Lichfield Cathedral isn’t the only city building that Sir Gilbert Scott was involved with. In the early days of his career he had formed a partnership with his former assistant William Bonython Moffatt. The Scott & Moffat practice made workhouses their speciality. Apparently, they would monitor the newspapers for adverts by Poor Law Unions looking for architects to build their new workhouses. Scott & Moffat answered an advert placed by the Lichfield Workhouse Board of Guardians, looking for “Plans and Specifications for a Workhouse to hold two hundred Paupers, in accordance with Mr Kempthorne’s Model.” Scott & Moffat were eventually selected after much deliberation by the workhouse guardians and work began on the tudor style building on 24th May 1838 and it was officially opened on 8th May 1840. Their work can still be seen at the old St Michael’s hospital on Trent Valley Rd.
Scott and Moffat parted company in 1845, after designing around 40 workhouses together. Scott’s wife Caroline Oldrid was said to have put an end to the partnership, as she believed that Moffat had become unreliable. In 1860, Moffat was was imprisoned as a debtor. After their partnership ended, Scott carried on with his two sons as his assistants. His younger son, John Oldrid Scott took over his father’s practice in 1878 and was the architect overseeing the restoration of the cathedral spire in my previous post! I was reading his notes and letters to the Dean and Chapter just a few days ago (his handwriting is terrible!). Scott’s eldest son George died at the age of 58, strangely enough at the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station.
Scott was knighted in 1872 but faced some critiscism during his career. William Morris and others founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877, in response to what they felt was the unsympathetic restoration of medieval buildings by Victorian Architects, Scott amongst them. Apparently on Scott’s death, Morris described him as ‘the happily dead dog’.
The Midland Hotel was threatened with demolition in the 1960s, but The Victorian Society campaigned and the hotel became grade I listed. The hotel was reopened earlier this year as the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
You can see a list of the buildings Scott worked on here. I’m pleased to see that they’ve included a picture of Lichfield Cathedral!
Cathedral City by Howard Clayton
This Won’t Hurt – A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski
www.guardian.co.uk Article ‘Sir George Gilbert Scott, the unsung hero of British architecture’