Born in Cawcott, Bucks, the son of the village Rector and
builder, he trained with James Edmeston, 1827-31, and formed
a partnership with W B Moffatt, 1834-45.
From then he worked independently, with his sons George and
John Oldrid Scott as assistants.
Working almost exclusively in the Gothic style, he became one
of the most succesful architects of his generation, but his
unshakeable belief in the supremacy of Gothic over the Classical
and Renaissance styles for public and collegiate buildings,
together with his often conjectural 'restorations' of medieval
churches, often resulted in controversy.
The 'Battle of the Styles' which raged between him and Lord
Palmerston's government, after their rejection of his designs for
the Foreign Office (1857) in preference for an Italian Renaissance
alternative, dashed his hopes of gaining official recognition for
Gothic as the state architectural style.
The battle was almost refought in Glasgow in the 1860s, when he was
appointed to design Glasgow University (1864-70) in his favourite Gothic style,
his opponents being the Classical and Renaissance minded Glasgow
Alexander 'Greek' Thomson
, they argued that Gothic
was a wholly inappropriate style for a modern Scottish educational institution
and that Scott's overworked practice could only produce a second rate design.
However, having already set aside a florid Renaissance design by John
Baird I (1846), the University Senate stuck to their guns and appointed
Scott without further hesitation.
His finest Scottish buildings are St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral,
Edinburgh (1872-9) and the Albert Institute, Dundee (1865-7); whilst
his St Mary's Episcopal Church (later Cathedral), Glasgow (1871-93)
and Glasgow University (1864-71) were later completed and
improved by John Oldrid Scott.
His most famous buildings in England are both in London, the Albert
Memorial (1862-72), which incorporates his carved portrait (by J B Philip),
and the Grand Midland Station and Hotel, St Pancras (1868-74), where his
son George committed suicide in 1897.
His work outside Britain includes, the Nikolaikirche, Hamburg (1844-60),
and St John's Cathedral, Newfoundland (1846).
Knighted in 1872, he served as RIBA
President from 1873-5.
After his death, the firm passed to John Oldrid Scott and later to
his grandson, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880-1960), the architect of Liverpool's