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Mr Robert Stodart Lorimer

Who was Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer?

Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer (1864–1929) was a prominent Scottish architect and designer known for his significant contributions to the Arts and Crafts movement in Scotland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born on November 4, 1864, in Edinburgh,the son of James Lorimer, Regius Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University, and Hannah Stodart, Lorimer belonged to a family deeply rooted in the artistic and architectural traditions of Scotland.

Life and work:

Lorimer received his education at Edinburgh Academy and later studied at the University of Edinburgh. His early exposure to architecture came from his father, James Lorimer, a well-respected Scottish lawyer with a keen interest in architectural history. In 1885, Robert Stodart Lorimer enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools in London, where he honed his skills and developed a passion for traditional Scottish architecture.

Upon returning to Scotland, Lorimer joined the architectural firm of Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, a leading figure in the Scottish architectural scene at the time. This apprenticeship greatly influenced Lorimer's architectural style, grounding him in the principles of the Scottish Baronial and Gothic Revival styles.

In 1893, Lorimer established his own architectural practice in Edinburgh. He quickly gained recognition for his distinctive approach, which seamlessly blended historical references with modern design principles. His designs often featured a strong emphasis on craftsmanship and a meticulous attention to detail.

One of Lorimer's notable commissions was the Thistle Chapel at St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, completed in 1911. This project showcased his mastery of Gothic Revival architecture and his commitment to preserving and revitalizing traditional Scottish craftsmanship.

Lorimer also had a strong interest in gardens. This, it is said, he had gained from an introduction he had in 1898 to Gertrude Jekyll while at work on one of his many English commissions, Whinfold in Surrey.

Lorimer's influence extended beyond architecture; he was also involved in interior design, furniture making, and landscaping. His holistic approach to design made him a key figure in the Arts and Crafts movement in Scotland, emphasizing a return to traditional craftsmanship and the use of locally sourced materials.

The First World War had a profound impact on Lorimer's career, as he devoted much of his time to designing war memorials across Scotland. His work in this area is characterized by a sensitive and contemplative approach, reflecting the solemnity of the occasion.

Despite a number of English commissions, Lorimer had no London offices. His architectural practices were based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In addition to gardens, Lorimer also had a strong interest in antique furniture. This was supposedly gained from the Glasgow shipowner William Burrell whom he had met while working at Earlshall in Fife, Scotland.

Lorimer died on 13 September 1929. His ashes were buried at Newburn Churchyard in Fife, Scotland along with those of his parents.

Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer's significant contributions to Scottish architecture and design were widely recognized during his lifetime. He was knighted in 1911 for his services to architecture and became the King's Architect for Scotland in 1924. Lorimer's legacy lives on through his numerous buildings, including private homes, churches, and public structures, as well as his writings on architecture.


  1. Glendinning, Miles, and Ranald MacInnes. "A History of Scottish Architecture: From the Renaissance to the Present Day." Edinburgh University Press, 1996.
  2. Fawcett, Jane. "Building the Scottish Dream: Sir Robert Lorimer and the Rehabilitation of Newburn." The Scottish Historical Review, vol. 89, no. 2, 2010, pp. 303–333.
  3. Colvin, Howard. "A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600–1840." Yale University Press, 2008.
  4. Summerson, John. "Architecture in Britain: 1530–1830." Yale University Press, 1993.


Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 'Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer', DSA Architect Biography Report <; [accessed 16 February 2008]

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