Sir George Gilbert Scott had considerably more success with the chapel of All Souls College. He seems to have had a good relationship with the members of the college and he lived long enough to see the work largely completed. Henry Clutton was already restoring the chapel when Scott was called in 1872. The roof was being re-slated, the exterior restored and the plaster was being scraped off the hammer-beam roof when a scaffolding pole accidently pierced the lath and plaster screen which covered the eastern wall of the chapel. By looking through the hole in the screen there was amazement at the beautiful medieval carved reredos which could now be seen. The removal of the screen was ‘soon accomplished’ and the senior fellow of the college, the Earl of Bathurst, offered to pay for the restoration of the reredos to its orginal form. Bathurst had employed Scott to design the tower and spire that he added to Scott’s church at Watermoor, Cirencester, in 1852, and upon the discovery of the old reredos, Scott was immediately commissioned to take over the restoration of the chapel.
Scott produced designs to restore the sanctuary and re-pave the floor. In June 1873 Farmer and Brindley contracted to restore the stalls and execute the paving, and in October Edward Geflowski, of Camden Town, agreed to supply the new figures for the reredos. Geflowski had carried out the sumptuous carving in the interior of Watermoor Church, so his appearance at All Souls was probably due to Bathurst. At All Souls, Geflowski carved thirty-five large figures, including one of Bathurst, and eighty-four smaller figures. Henry Terry, of Lambeth, carried out the architectural sculpture and the reliable Symm executed the rest of the stonework. Thomas Leigh doubled up being Clerk of Works on Merton hall with All Souls. Bathurst contributed between £3,000 and £4,000 for the figures on the reredos, the total cost reaching £35,000, the total cost of the restoration of the chapel, which was completed in 1879, was £10,639.
At the end of his life Scott seems to have been re-invigorated with the All Souls challenge, and, according to The Builder, ‘entered into the work with that zeal and love for old examples that so eminently distinguished him’. Thanks to Bathurst’s enormous generosity he was able to see the reredos largely completed before he died. All Souls was a minor triumph for Scott, but perhaps his view of Oxford was coloured by his treatment from the dons of Christ Church and New College. His knack of taking offence at the slightest snub, perhaps not even intended, is the recurring theme throughout his Recollections and may be the reason that they contain no mention of any of his numerous works at Oxford after Exeter College.
Fisher, G., Stamp, G. and Heseltine, J., (eds), The Scott Family, Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Avebury Publishing, Amersham, 1981), 63.
The Builder, XXXVII, 3 May 1879, p. 489.
The Architect, X, 18 October, 1873, p. 201.
Victoria County History, III, p. 186.