A search was instigated by the family for a religious architect to whom the young Sir George Gilbert Scott could be articled, religion being central to the family. Eventually the name of Edmeston was suggested by a travelling Bible salesman. Edmeston was the author of some two thousand hymns, including the still very popular ‘Lead us Heavenly Father, lead us’. His architectural qualifications seem to have been of little concern. Rather it was his hymn writing that would have appealed to the evangelical Scotts.
In March 1827, his father took Sir George Gilbert Scott up to London, presumably by coach, and delivered him to Edmeston, who lived at Homerton and had his office in Salvador house at the rear of White Hart Court in Bishopsgate. Scott lived with Mr and Mrs Edmeston at 15, Brooksby’s Walk, Homerton. They were ‘very kind persons, but on the morning after his arrival when Edmeston invited him to inspect his works: ‘Oh horrors! the bubble burst and the fond theme of my youthful imagination was realised in the form of a few second-rate brick houses, with cemented porticoes of two ungainly columns each’. The type of work which Edmeston produced certainly had little appeal to Scott’s romantic view of architecture at the time, but he liked Edmeston in every other respect. He describes him as:
a most agreeable companion and a man of liberal and refined mind, thoroughly well informed and well read, in fact a most superior man in everything but his own direct professional work, viewed in its artistic aspect.
Sir George Gilbert Scott’s reference to second-rate housing sounds disparaging, but could refer to the system by which houses had to conform to a code of rates under the London Building Act of 1774. Second-rate houses were of two bays and four stories high with basements. Most of the known work Edmeston carried out was in the developing areas to the north-east of London, in the Hackney, Homerton and Leytonstone. Scott was articled to him until March 1831. Springbett was the only other pupil although Moffatt joined later. Edmeston’s library however, was the source of much of Scott’s early knowledge about Classical architecture including volumes such as Vitruvius, Stewart’s Athens and the works of the Dilettante Society.