The term ‘Queen Anne’ first appeared in The Building News in May 1872, about the same time that Maurice Bingham Adams was appointed its editor. Adams was to become one of the style’s most prolific architects but Sir George Gilbert Scott’s friend and supporter, Edward William Godwin, was a regular contributor to the paper and Adams was content to allow Godwin, along with older members of the profession, to vent their criticism of the new movement in his paper. Therefore at the same time as championing Sir George Gilbert Scott as the leading architect of the day, The Building Newswas giving considerable coverage to the rising generation of Queen Anne architects. This style emanated from a group of his former pupils and assistants with Bodley and George Gilbert junior leading the way, followed by Jackson, Stevenson, Robson and R. J. Johnson.
Their buildings, in fact, are much more exuberant than the quiet Wren-style houses that were built during the period that they were named after. There is a profusion of tall chimneys, ornate gables and sash windows set in elaborate brickwork with terracotta decorations and classical details appear throughout. Sir George Gilbert Scott said that he had no doubt that the Queen Anne style was a ‘vexatious disturber of the Gothic Movement’. He described his past experiences and compared the rise of Queen Anne with his own conversion to Gothic when he was ‘awakened from My slumber by the thunder of Pugin’s writings’. The Gothic Revival, he said, was first disturbed by the Italian mania, ‘arising from Mr Ruskins writing’, then by the ‘French rage’ but this ‘Gallomania’ became anti-Gothic, turned towards the seventeenth century and finally Queen Anne.
It did however seem hard that the very men who had once goaded me for not being Gothic or French enough should be the very men to forsake Gothic (for secular buildings at least) at the moment when its success was the most promising. I had always resented My Classic opponents calling our Mediaeval enthusiasm a mere fashion but this charge did really appear no better than a tailors change in the cut of a coat and the trifles which gave rise to it seem to be evinced by the strange vagaries of dress etc etc which accompanied it.
However he does concede that it is an ‘unquestionable gain’ to have:
rich colour and lively picturesque architecture in lieu of the dull monotony of the usual street architecture – and – more than this – the style in halfway between Gothic & Classic in its effect & goes all the way in the use of material.
No Gothic man would fail to appreciate the picturesque character of Queen Anne, but the adoption of all kinds of old fashions by its architects meant that a ‘so called “Queen Anne” house is now more of a revival of the past than a Gothic house’.
The reference to ‘strange vagaries of dress’ was probably directed to George Gilbert junior as much as anybody else. ‘Greek’ Thomson met the young Scott at a dinner party at Stevenson’s and said that he appeared in ‘black knee breeks [sic] black silk stockings high heeled shoes with large buckles, blue coat, yellow vest white neck cloth with stiffner and frilled shirt’. Thomson explained to his brother, ‘he is one of the Queen Ann folks’. Whether he liked it or not, Scott was surrounded by ‘the Queen Ann folks’.
It was as if Sir George Gilbert Scott realised that his entrenched position on restoration was showing him to be inflexible and outdated so in January 1878 he wrote a sympathetic piece in his Recollectionsnotebook about the rising Queen Anne style. His own work in the 1870s was deviating from his recognisable High Victorian Gothic, most notable with his German Renaissance design for the Hamburg Rathaus, but also in designs for small scale secular buildings such as St Mary’s Homes at Godstone, Hillesden Parsonage or the Cottage Hospital at Savernake of 1872. These derived from traditional buildings, with tile hanging, exposed timberwork and over-hanging first floors, similar to Norman Shaw’s ‘Old English’ style. In the final paragraph of his last Recollections notebook he said, ‘I heartily wish them all success’. A few weeks later Scott was dead.