Sir Robert Lorimer, who practised in Edinburgh between 1893 and 1929, was an architect whose deep response to Scotland’s landscape and its crafts is expressed as vividly by his letters as by his buildings. He was Scotland’s leading architect by 1911 when he received a knighthood for his designs for the Thistle Chapel in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh.
His talents were wide and he applied them to arts and crafts cottages, which received wide attention; to large baronial mansions and to country house restorations, which were well reviewed by the magazines; to the furniture he designed, to garden layouts and to overseas war cemeteries; but his last masterpiece was the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh, which became the focus of a national pilgrimage in 19Z7. His most eminent pupil wrote after his death in 1929 that Lorimer was ‘the last of the great romantics, with a name to put beside that of Philip Webb and Norman Shaw. Like these, a revivalist; like these, a modernist; it was given to him, as to them, to leave the land he loved so well more beautiful in a thousand places than he found it.’
When it first came out, this was the first book for over forty years to deal with the work of Lorimer and the talented group of artists and craftspeople gathered around him.