In May 1849, Sir George Gilbert Scott’s wife Caroline lost her father, John Oldrid, at the age of seventy, in what Scott recalls as ‘circumstances particularly painful & distressing’. Oldrid was ill in bed at his house in South Square, Boston, when he was hurriedly told that his drapery shop in Strait Bargate was on fire. He ran out of the house and as he got near to the shop, he caught sight of the flames reflected in the windows opposite. He immediately thought that his whole business was ruined and collapsed. He was carried back to his house and died on 27 May 1849. The funeral took place at Leverton, about five miles from Boston, where, according to Scott, he had a small estate, and he was buried ‘in the family vault [in] the churchyard’ of St Helena’s. This is marked by an elaborate tomb-chest with a raised cross entwined with foliage on the lid. Running around the edge of the lid is an inscription which reads:
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF JOHN OLDRID LATE ALDERMAN AND MAGISTRATE OF BOSTON WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE MAY XVII Ao Do MDCCCXLIX AGED LXX Yrs: THE MEMORY OF THE JUST IS BLESSED
It is the grandest monument in the churchyard and undoubtedly Scott’s design, and when his mother-in-law died eight years later the inscription was added:
-ALSO-OF-MARY-HIS-WIFE-DAUGHTER-OF-WILLIAM-SCOTT-OF-GRIMBLETHORPE-HALL-IN–THIS:COUNTY-AND-NIECE-OF-THE-REVD-THOMAS-SCOTT-RECTOR-OF-ASTON- SANDFORD–BUCKS-WHO-DIED- APRIL-11-1857-AGED-79-YEARS-IN-SURE-CERTAIN-HOPE-
Oldrid had founded his drapery business in 1804 and as there was no question of the business being taken over by his three daughters or John Henry, who as a clergyman was excluded from commercial activity, the business passed to Caroline’s cousin, another John Oldrid. He died the year after Scott leaving a fortune for those days of £50,000. The firm still exists as the largest department store in Boston with out-of-town branches.
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), p. 8, genealogy.
Scott’s Recollections, II 318a, 319.
Isaac, A., The Oldrids of Boston Story, Celebrating 200 years of Trading (A. Isaac, Boston, 2004).