Denison, Edmund Beckett
Lectures on Gothic architecture, chiefly in relation to St.George’s church at Doncaster; delivered in the town-hall there, at Christmas, 1854.
Doncaster, George and Thomas Brooke nd (1855).
8vo. (4) + 111 + (1)pp, (6) woodcut plates. Publisher’s printed pictorial wrappers, rather worn and darkened, neatly rebacked. Author’s ink signature at top of upper cover and ink date “30 Mar 1855” at foot of upper cover
First edition, first issue, of these trenchant lectures on Gothic architecture by Edmund Beckett Denison (1816-1905), more familiar to architectural historians under his subsequent title Lord Grimthorpe (the well-written biography of him by Peter Ferriday, published in 1957, still repays reading). Doncaster’s mediaeval parish church had been destroyed by fire in February 1853 and Denison, whose family played a dominant role in the town’s commercial life, took it upon himself to play a significant advisory role in the church’s restoration, for which designs had been supplied by George Gilbert Scott. Although Denison was a lawyer, not an architect, the conviction with which he expresses his opinions in these lectures – and the scorn with which he treats recent public buildings in classical style by so distinguished an architect as C.R.Cockerell (p.21) – foreshadows his subsequent role in the destructive restoration of St.Albans Cathedral in the late 1870s and 1880s. The present copy, signed by Denison on its upper cover and dated 30 March 1855, probably also in Denison’s hand, is likely to have been a copy retained by Denison himself. It obviously predates a subsequent issue produced a little later in 1855 with an added postscript and with a list of donations to the rebuilding fund as of 5 April 1855. It may be helpful to record both for bibliographic purposes and for the benefit of Grimthorpe afficionados that the present issue also differs from the subsequent issue in that at the end of Denison’s preface (on the volume’s second leaf of text) Denison’s London address and the date “28th February 1855” are printed in capitals, whereas in the subsequent issue the address and date, given there as “February 28, 1855”, are printed in upper and lower case italics. Additionally, the other side of this leaf is blank in the present issue, while in the subsequent issue it carries a list of the volume’s plates. Finally, this leaf and the title leaf that precedes it in the present issue are printed on a different and slightly better paper stock to that of the rest of the volume. We have previously had through our hands a number of copies of an enlarged second edition, published in 1856, but no copy of either issue of this original edition has come our way until now.