Shall the new Foreign Office be Gothic or Classic ? A plea for the former : addressed to the members of the House of Commons.
London, Bell and Daldy 1860.
8vo. 70pp, also printed errata slip. Sewn as issued. Author’s ink presentation inscription on upper cover to Hon.W(alter) C(ecil) Talbot MP.
A substantial pamphlet, very rare and never previously seen by us, which argues the case for designing the new Foreign Office building in Whitehall in the Gothic style, in opposition to the known opinion of Lord Palmerston, the then Prime Minister, that a Classical style would be appropriate. Its author, Sir Francis Scott, a landowner in the West Midlands, coupled an interest in sport with a keen appreciation of the arts which had led to his appointment as Chairman of the Government School of Art in Birmingham. The defining characteristic of the present pamphlet, which distinguishes it from most other contemporary publications by Gothic Revival enthusiasts, is that he focuses his arguments almost entirely on the suitability of the Gothic style for institutional and domestic architecture. His text, which is written in a sprightly literary style and is a real pleasure to read, shows that his admiration for Gothic architecture had been fostered by the fact that he had spent time in Italy and had personal knowledge of mediaeval buildings in such Italian cities as Florence, Siena, Milan and Venice. In London he praises “Mr.Hardwick’s buildings at Lincoln’s Inn, erected in 1845, of the commonest materials, of the simplest construction, of the grandest effect” and reserves his greatest scorn for the architecture of “The Rag”, the then newly built Army and Navy Club in Pall Mall, designed in a Venetian classical style by the architects Parnell & Smith.