Sir George Gilbert Scott and Moffatt’s first major success in institutional competitions came early in 1841, with a competition for the Infant Orphan Asylum in Wanstead, for Dr. Andrew Reed (1787-1862), a well-known philanthropist and independent minister, who had already founded other similar institutions in London. Scott said, ‘Nothing could exceed the energy with which Moffatt threw himself into this competition, the most important by far which we had then entered’. It is a very big H plan building, picturesquely situated by the East Pond on the edge of Epping Forest. Scott designed the Elizabethan elevations, with turrets, curved gables and stone mullioned windows. It has an open loggia across the front, like Hatfield House, interrupted by an imposing three story central entrance tower. It is all in white stone with yellow stone dressings and looks like a great white palace in a romantic lakeside setting. Prince Albert laid the foundation stone ‘in great state’, on 24 July 1841, and the contractor, the big London firm of Jay Moffatt, ‘carried out the work, for it was mainly committed to him, with great ability and success’. The building was opened by King Leopold of Belgium, Queen Victoria’s uncle, in 1843. It is now Snaresbrook Crown Court. Two drawings of it were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1842.
It was with this building that The Builder first mentioned Scott and Moffatt in its columns. This magazine was founded in 1843 and became the most influential architectural periodical throughout the nineteenth century, with Scott’s work always very well covered, starting with the Wanstead Asylum in its issue of 28 October 1843. This carried the comment that Scott and Moffatt would be well-known to professional and builder readers, but less so to non-professional readers.
Scott’s Recollections, I 309-10.
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), 17 b.