header

This letter also appears on the Victorian Web


Joseph John Scoles 1798-1863

The writer, Joseph John Scoles was born in London on 27 June 1798, the son of Matthew Scoles who was a joiner. Scoles was apprenticed in 1812 to Joseph Ireland, the leading Roman Catholic architect of the time, to whom he was related through his mother. In 1822 he left England, with Joseph Bonomi Junior and travelled extensively on the Continent and in Sicily, Greece, Egypt and Syria, devoting himself to both architecural and archaeological research.

In 1835 Scoles was one of the original fellows of the Institute of British Architects, acted as honourary secretary from 1846 to 1856 and was vice-president in 1857-58. He read a number of papers at its meetings, principally on the monuments of Egypt and the Holy Land. Scoles made his reputation as a designer of churches, nearly all Roman Catholic, and at the time this letter was written, was engaged in designing St George's at Edgbaston, Birmingham; St. James's Church at Colchester; the observatory at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire and St. Mary's Church Newport Monmouthshire.

He died at his home in Hammersmith on December 29, 1863, leaving four sons and eight daughters by his wife Harriott, daughter of Robert Cory of Great Yarmouth. Surprisingly, there are no details in the biography of any work carried out for Robert Hay at Ormiston Hall, Tranent, as suggested by his comments in this letter.

Taken from Sir Lesley Stephen & Sir Sidney Lee (eds.), Dictionary of National Biography: from the earliest times to 1900 (London, Oxford University Press, 1949).

Joseph John Scoles the architect, was born in London on 27 June 1798. He was the son of Matthew Scoles, a joiner, and Elizabeth Sparling. His parents were Roman catholics. Educated at the Roman catholic school at Baddesley Green, Joseph was apprenticed in 1812 for seven years to his kinsman, Joseph Ireland, an architect largely employed by Dr. John Milner (1752-1826), the Roman Catholic bishop. During his apprenticeship, John Carter (1748-1817), through Milner's influence, revised his detailed drawings, and he thus had his attention directed at an early period to mediæval ecclesiastical art. Ireland, as was customary at that period, frequently acted as contractor as well as designer, and from 1816 to 1819 Scoles was resident at Hassop Hall, Bakewell, and in Leicester, superintending works for Ireland.

In 1822 Scoles left England in company with Joseph Bonomi the younger for further study, and devoted himself to archæological and architectural research in Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Syria. Henry Parke and T. Catherwood were often his companions. He published in 1829 an engraved Map of Nubia, comprising the country between the first and second cataracts of the Nile, from a survey made in 1824 jointly by him and Parke, and a map of the city of Jerusalem; his plan of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, with his drawings of the Jewish tombs in the valley of Jehoshaphat, was published by Professor Robert Willis in 1849. The plan of the temple of Cadacchio, contributed by Scoles to the supplementary volume of Stuart and Revett, was published without acknowledgment. Two sheets of classic detail, drawn by F. Arundale from sketches by Parke and Scoles in 1823, were published by Augustus W. N. Pugin in 1828. The illustrations to the article 'Catacomb' in the Dictionary of the Architectural Publication Society comprise plans of a catacomb in Alexandria drawn in 1823 by Scoles, Parke, and Catherwood.

Meanwhile in 1826 he returned home and resumed his practice. In 1828 he planned and carried out the building of Gloucester Terrace, Regent's Park, for which John Nash supplied the general elevation. Scoles designed St. Mary's Chapel, South Town, Yarmouth (1830), St. Peter's Church, Great Yarmouth (1831), and St. George's Church, Edgbaston, for Lord Calthorpe. These, with some small additions and restorations to Burgh Castle and Blundestone churches, Suffolk, comprised all his work for the established church of England. His works for the Roman catholic church included Our Lady's Church, St. John's Wood (1832), St. Peter's Collegiate Church, Stonyhurst, Lancashire (1832), St. Ignatius, Preston, Lancashire (1835), St. James's, Colchester (1837), St. Mary's, Newport, Monmouthshire (1840), St. David's, Cardiff (1842), St. John's, Islington (1843), the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, London (1844), St. Francis Xavier's, Liverpool (1844), the Immaculate Conception, Chelmsford (1847), the church and presbytery of Great Yarmouth (1848-50), the chapel of Ince Hall, Lancashire (1859), and the Holy Cross, St. Helen's, Lancashire (1860).

Brompton Oratory

The London Oratory

Among others of Scoles's works was the London Oratory, Brompton, with its library, the little oratory, and the temporary church, as well as a convent in Sidney Street, Brompton. The chapel of Prior Park College, Bath, designed by Scoles, was erected after his death by his son.

Scoles was elected a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1835, was honorary secretary from May 1846 to May 1856, and vice-president in 1857-8. To the society's proceedings he contributed papers principally on the monuments of Egypt and the Holy Land, the outcome of his early travels. He died on 29 December 1863 at his residence, Crofton Lodge, Hammersmith.

Scoles married, in 1831, Harriott, daughter of Robert Cory of Great Yarmouth. Four sons and eight daughters survived him. There passed to the possession of his son, Augustus Cory Scoles, a watercolour drawing by John Hollins, A.R.A., representing Scoles in the native costume he had adopted when in Syria.

Home Page

Letters index page

Last modified