Sir George Gilbert Scott’s biggest work during this period, before the restoration of the Abbey commenced, was the conversion of the Abbey Gateway into a school. This is a large and forbidding-looking mid-fourteenth century flint structure, three stories high, complete with attic and dungeons, and stands a few yards to the west of the Abbey. It survived the destruction of the rest of the monastic buildings at the Dissolution, because of its suitability as a prison. In 1868 Scott was commissioned to restore and convert this building into the school, considerably restoring the windows, and to provide a new school master’s house on its south side, on the site of the gaoler’s house. This cost £2,400 and the house was demolished in 1912. Ever since the Reformation, the school had been housed in the fourteenth-century Lady Chapel, which was separated from the rest of the Abbey by a public passageway between high walls. Although it was a convenient short-cut from the town centre to the south of the Abbey, the school had moved, and in August 1872, Scott wrote that the eastern chapels ‘at present remain desolate and the footpath still perforates them – but surely this cannot continue! … This must be abated!’ so becoming part of his general restoration plans for the Abbey.
Royal Commission for Historic Monuments, St Alban’s Cathedral (1952), p. 28.
Kilvington, F., The Precinct of St Albans Abbey, 1539-1999 (Friends of St Albans Abbey, St Albans, 2000), p. 79, plate verso p. 52, for photograph.
Scott’s Recollections, IV 12.