This piece, from exactly a year ago, describes how I learnt about two of the architects from the Gilbert Scott family, or maybe that should say “the Gilbert Scott dynasty”. This obituary for Richard Gilbert Scott, who died last month aged 93, says that he “represented the fourth generation of England’s greatest architectural dynasty”. A friend who was studying architecture, back in the 1980s, told me the link between two local churches here in West London: Christ Church on Turnham Green was designed by George Gilbert Scott, and the tower on the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Grace and St Edward was designed by his grandson Giles Gilbert Scott.
I noted in that earlier piece that I think often about nuggets of information that can trace their origin back to a passing conversation, in this case over 30 years ago. Another nugget came to mind recently, also related to local places, and possibly originating from the same conversation, or at least from the same day. It’s about Devonshire.
As I recall, my friend explained that there is no such place as Devonshire. It was a misreading of the word Derbyshire when the title “The Duke of Devonshire” was created. The handwriting on that ancient document said “Derbyshire” but was misread as “Devonshire”. At least that’s what my memory tells me. Most things connected with Devonshire are in Derbyshire, like Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire. Chiswick House was also connected with the same duke, and all around us are references to both places. A girl at primary school lived in Chatsworth Road. I visited her house many times. My brother and sister and I walked through Devonshire Passage to get to school. We occasionally got fish and chips from a shop (long since closed) at the end of Devonshire Road. It’s near Hogarth Roundabout, where the George and Devonshire pub still stands. A new block of flats on the High Road (well, it’s less than 20 years old) is called Chatsworth Lodge. I grew up knowing nothing about the connections between our part of the world and Devonshire (or Derbyshire) and Chatsworth, and still know little more than my friend told me all those years ago, but I’m happy to share the small amounts of information that I have.