Robert Lorimer
Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer (4 November 1864 – 13 September 1929) was a prolific Scottish
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 noted for his restoration work on historic house
Historic house
A historic house can be a stately home, the birthplace of a famous person, or a house with an interesting history or architecture.- Background :...

s and castles, and for promotion of the Arts and Crafts
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England and flourished between 1860 and 1910 , continuing its influence until the 1930s...


Early life

Lorimer was born in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, the son of James Lorimer
James Lorimer (jurist)
James Lorimer was a Scottish jurist and professor of public law.-Life:Lorimer was born in Aberdalgie in Perthshire.He was admitted to the Scottish bar in 1845...

, who was Regius Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

 from 1862 to 1890. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy
Edinburgh Academy
The Edinburgh Academy is an independent school which was opened in 1824. The original building, in Henderson Row on the northern fringe of the New Town of Edinburgh, Scotland, is now part of the Senior School...

 and later at Edinburgh University. He was part of a gifted family, being the younger brother of painter
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 John Henry Lorimer
John Henry Lorimer
John Henry Lorimer was a Scottish painter who worked on portraits and genre scenes of everyday life.Lorimer was born in Edinburgh, the son of James Lorimer, who was Regius Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University from 1862 to 1890...

, and father to the sculptor
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 Hew Lorimer
Hew Lorimer
Hew Martin Lorimer was a Scottish sculptor.He was born in Edinburgh, the second son of architect Sir Robert Lorimer. He was educated at Loretto School in Musselburgh, then at Magdalen College, Oxford University, but he left Oxford prematurely to study design and sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art...

. In 1878 the Lorimer family acquired the lease of Kellie Castle
Kellie Castle
Kellie Castle is a castle just outside Arncroach, about 5 kilometres north of Pittenweem in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland.-Early history:The earliest records of Kellie go back to 1150 where it is mentioned in a charter issued by King David I. The first known owner was Robert of London, the...

 in Fife
Fife is a council area and former county of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire...

 and began its restoration for use as a holiday home.

Lorimer began his architectural career working for Sir Robert Rowand Anderson
Robert Rowand Anderson
Sir Robert Rowand Anderson RSA was a Scottish Victorian architect. Anderson trained in the office of George Gilbert Scott in London before setting up his own practice in Edinburgh in 1860. During the 1860s his main work was small churches in the 'First Pointed' style that is characteristic of...

, and went on to form his own practice in 1893. He was influenced by Scottish domestic architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries and the Scots Baronial
Scottish baronial style
The Scottish Baronial style is part of the Gothic Revival architecture style, using stylistic elements and forms from castles, tower houses and mansions of the Gothic architecture period in Scotland, such as Craigievar Castle and Newark Castle, Port Glasgow. The revival style was popular from the...

 style of Kellie Castle where he had spent much time as a young man. Early in his career, Lorimer became influenced by the ideas of William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

, and went on to become a committed exponent of the Arts and Crafts style of architecture. He assembled a collaboration of artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

s and craftsmen
An artisan is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewellery, household items, and tools...

 and, collectively, they exhibited furniture at Arts and Crafts exhibitions in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. In 1896 he was elected to the Art Workers Guild
Art Workers Guild
The Art Workers Guild or Art-Workers' Guild is an organisation established in 1884 by a group of British architects associated with the ideas of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. The guild promoted the 'unity of all the arts', denying the distinction between fine and applied art...


Later life

Lorimer designed a series of cottages in the Arts and Crafts style in the Colinton
Colinton is a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland situated 6 kilometres south west of the city centre. It is bordered by Dreghorn to the south and Craiglockhart to the north-east. To the north-west it extends to Lanark Road and to the south-west to the City Bypass...

 area of Edinburgh, the so-called "Colinton Cottages". Constructed using traditional methods and materials, each cottage included a garden layout and interior design, including furniture, in keeping with the Arts and Crafts concept. By 1900, eight cottages had been built and four others were under construction. The decline in popularity of the Arts and Crafts movement from 1900 saw the direction of Lorimer's work change, and he undertook several large scale country house commissions, mainly designed in the Scots Baronial style. Ardkinglas Estate, 1906, on Loch Fyne
Loch Fyne
Loch Fyne is a sea loch on the west coast of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It extends inland from the Sound of Bute, making it the longest of the sea lochs...

 is a particularly notable example of a Scots Baronial country house.

The outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 restricted the demand for large new houses and his attention shifted to restoration projects. He already had a reputation as one of Scotland's leading restoration architects following the restoration of Earlshall in 1899 and Hill of Tarvit
Hill of Tarvit
The Hill of Tarvit is a 20th-century mansion house and gardens in Fife, Scotland. They were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer and are today owned by the National Trust for Scotland.- Description :...

 in 1905, both in Fife. He went on to carry out significant alteration and restoration works at Lennoxlove House
Lennoxlove House
Lennoxlove House is a historic house set in woodlands half a mile south of Haddington in East Lothian, Scotland. The house comprises a 15th-century tower, originally known as Lethington, and has been extended several times, principally in the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries...

 in East Lothian
East Lothian
East Lothian is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, and a lieutenancy Area. It borders the City of Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Midlothian. Its administrative centre is Haddington, although its largest town is Musselburgh....

 and Dunrobin Castle
Dunrobin Castle
Dunrobin Castle is a stately home in Sutherland, in the Highland area of Scotland. It is the seat of the Countess of Sutherland and the Clan Sutherland. It is located north of Golspie, and approximately south of Brora, on the Dornoch Firth close to the A9 road. Nearby Dunrobin Castle railway...

 in Sutherland
Sutherland is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic administrative county of Scotland. It is now within the Highland local government area. In Gaelic the area is referred to according to its traditional areas: Dùthaich 'IcAoidh , Asainte , and Cataibh...

. He designed Formakin House
Formakin House
Formakin House is an early 20th-century mansion and estate in Renfrewshire, Scotland. It is located south of the Firth of Clyde, and west of Bishopton. Formakin was designed by Robert Lorimer for wealthy businessman John Holms, though the main house was never completed...

 in Renfrewshire, in a convincing 17th-century style, and in 1912 undertook major changes at Hunterston Castle and associated buildings.

Although much of his work, and reputation, was in the sphere of domestic architecture, Lorimer also carried out significant public works. Principal amongst these include his design for the new chapel for the Knights of the Thistle
Order of the Thistle
The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an order of chivalry associated with Scotland. The current version of the Order was founded in 1687 by King James VII of Scotland who asserted that he was reviving an earlier Order...

 in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh in 1911. He received a knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

hood for his efforts and went on to gain the commission for the Scottish National War Memorial
Scottish National War Memorial
The Scottish National War Memorial is located in Edinburgh Castle, and commemorates Scottish soldiers, and those serving with Scottish regiments, who died in the two world wars and in more recent conflicts. The monument was formally opened in 1927...

 at Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear...

 in 1919, subsequently opened by the Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

 in 1927.

Lorimer was also responsible for St Andrew's Garrison Church, Aldershot
St Andrew's Garrison Church, Aldershot
St Andrew’s Garrison Church, situated at Queens Avenue, Aldershot, Hampshire in southern England is a large army church designed in the late 1920s by the prominent Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer .-History:...

, completed 1927, a large Army church dedicated to the soldiers of the Church of Scotland and kindred churches who lost their lives in World War One. One of his last works (completed posthumously) was Knightswood St. Margaret's Parish Church, Glasgow
Knightswood St. Margaret's Parish Church, Glasgow
Knightswood St. Margaret's Parish Church is a parish church of the Church of Scotland, serving part of the Knightswood area of Glasgow, Scotland.-History:...

, which was dedicated in 1932.

Lorimer became President of the professional body in Scotland, the Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland is the professional body for architects in Scotland. It was founded in 1916 by Robert Rowand Anderson who donated his Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh to be used as its home, where it remains to this day. It was given its first Royal charter in...

, and it was during his tenure in office that the body received its second Royal Charter
Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and...

, permitting use of the term 'Royal' in the title. Lorimer was a fellow of the North British Academy of Arts
North British Academy of Arts
The North British Academy of Arts was an art institution of Newcastle upon Tyne in northern England.-Overview:The Academy, sometimes known as the North British Academy of Arts, Science, Literature, and Music, was located in the Claremount Buildings on the western side of Barras Bridge on the...

. He died in Edinburgh in 1929.

Further reading

  • Savage, Peter. Lorimer and the Edinburgh craft designers. Edinburgh : Harris, 1980. ISBN 0904505391.

External links

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