Stark imposition Ego taking precedence Casts itself a saint

“I am the only architect with whom I have never quarrelled.”

Edmund Beckett, 1st Baron Grimthorpe (1816 – 1905) was one of the men responsible for the restoration of St Albans Cathedral. By the time he became involved in the work, much of the restoration had been completed by George Gilbert Scott and others. Although the Victorians have become notorious for their destructive methods, Scott had a love and respect for the churches that shows in his recognisable touch. He died whilst working on the restoration of St Albans and his work was continued by his son, George Oldrid Scott, who had control until Lord Grimthorpe became involved.

As Grimthorpe personally funded the work to the tune of some £130,000…an astronomical figure at the time… it was inevitable that he would have his way. Dismissive of the Scott’s sympathetic restoration, he drew criticism even at the time for his heavy-handed approach, demolishing anything not to his taste and destroying the beautiful old windows in favour of his own designs, including the Wheathampstead window from the 1400s. His methods and the imposition of his vision were so disliked locally that a new and derogatory verb was coined, “to grimthorpe.”

No more than an amateur architect, he was called a “pompous, righteous bully” by Nikolaus Pevsner, the scholar of historical art and architecture. Grimthorpe’s new design for the west end of the Abbey was attacked as being heavy and out of place, and “utterly devoid of taste”.

Nevertheless, it is in the porch of the west end that Grimthorpe had himself immortalised in stone… as St Matthew the Evangelist. I think that says it all.


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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14 Responses to Hubris

  1. And the same story is being reenacted today as they knock down beautiful old buildings to put up hideous monstrosities that we be ready for the wrecking fall 10 years down the road.


  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Hmmm, wonder if he’s a relation of Donald Trump? 😉


  3. noelleg44 says:

    Wow, that is really hubris! Wouldn’t we all like to be immortalized that way!


  4. he deserves his name


  5. Helen Jones says:

    Hubris indeed! I get so cross when I read about people desecrating history (among other things).


  6. dgkaye says:

    Indeed it does. 🙂


  7. What an ego. I wonder how many people attended his funeral. Entertaining and interesting, Sue. 🙂 — Suzanne


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