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Sir George Gilbert Scott

In the centre part of the nave of Westminster Abbey is the grave of Sir George Gilbert Scott, architect and Surveyor of the Fabric at the Abbey from 1849-1878. He was perhaps the foremost of the Gothic Revivalists in the Victorian period and was a designer and restorer of many churches and secular buildings.

While Surveyor at the Abbey he restored the Chapter House and designed a triple portico for the north front (completed after his death by his son John), as well as supervising various restoration works to preserve the fabric of the Church. He designed the High Altar screen 1867-1873 with a mosaic of the Last Supper (executed by Antonio Salviati) and a cedar of Lebanon table (made by William Farmer). Also a new wooden font cover, the gravestones of Lord Palmerston and Robert Stephenson and the memorial column opposite the west entrance of the Abbey to former pupils of Westminster School who had died during the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny. The buildings on the south side of Broad Sanctuary, incorporating an archway into Dean's Yard, are also by him. (A watercolour showing these buildings, completed in 1854, and the column has recently been acquired by the Abbey Library).  He undertook a major restoration of the interior of St Margaret's Westminster in 1878.   

His book Gleanings from Westminster Abbey was published in 1861, going into a second enlarged edition in 1863.

The Purbeck marble pulpit he designed for use in the lantern in the 1850s was given to All Saints church, Bendigo, Australia when the Jacobean pulpit was re-instated in this position (the marble pulpit was moved in 1993 to St Matthew's, Albury, New South Wales). His large limestone and marble pulpit for the nave, 1862, was moved out in 1902 and given to St Anne's cathedral in Belfast (later destroyed by fire). A set of railings designed for use in the Sacrarium area were given to the cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1928.

A design for a tiled floor over his grave was rejected in favour of a brass, laid down in 1881, designed by Scott's pupil George Edmund Street and executed by Barkentin & Krall. There is a central cross with an Agnus Dei in the centre and emblems of the four Evangelists. Below the arms of the cross are two partly enamelled coats of arms and his motto Sperandum (to be hoped). Scott's arms are: argent three Catherine wheels sable within a bordure engrailed gules. Two large figures represent St George and (probably) St Thomas holding a carpenters square and dividers. Scott appears at the base of the cross, seated at his desk, and at each corner are allegorical figures representing the painter, sculptor, smith and carpenter. The Latin inscription can be translated:

George Gilbert Scott, a man of honour, architect of extraordinary skill, died on 27th day of March, year of salvation 1878, aged 67. Remember me, Lord Jesus.

Scott was born on 13th July 1811 at Gawcott in Buckinghamshire, son of the Reverend Thomas Scott and his wife Euphemia (Lynch). He was educated locally and then articled to an architect in London. He went into partnership for a time with William Moffat and in 1838 married Caroline Oldrid (d.1872). They had five sons, George Gilbert, John Oldrid (who both became architects), Albert, Alwyne and Henry. Queen Victoria conferred a knighthood on him just after he had completed the memorial to Prince Albert in Kensington Gardens. He died of heart failure on 27th March 1878 and was buried at noon on 6th April.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Surveyors of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey 1827-1906 Reports and letters edited by Christine Reynolds, 2011

Personal and professional recollections by Sir G.G. Scott edited by Gavin Stamp, 1995

Sir George Gilbert Scott and the restoration of the Chapter House by S. Brindle in Westminster...the art, architecture...of the Royal Abbey in BAA Conference transactions vol.1, 2015

The Westminster Abbey Chapter House edited by W. Rodwell and R. Mortimer, 2010

An account of the funeral and engravings are in the Illustrated London News

Born

13th July 1811

Died

27th March 1878

Buried

6th April 1878

Occupation

Architect; historian; writer

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Grave

Material Type

Brass

Sir George Gilbert Scott
Sir George Gilbert Scott portrait

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Sir George Gilbert Scott
Sir George Gilbert Scott grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Sir George Gilbert Scott
Sanctuary buildings by Scott

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Sir George Gilbert Scott
Crucifixion from the High Altar table

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Sir George Gilbert Scott
Marble pulpit in the nave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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