Hetton Abbey Cited in Gilbert Scott Article

Architectural historian and critic Gavin Stamp refers to Hetton Abbey in his recent Spectator review of a biography of George Gilbert Scott:

Briefing his illustrator for the jacket of A Handful of Dust (1934), Evelyn Waugh asked for a country house in ‘the worst possible 1860’. The result was a neoGothic extravaganza with a pinnacled entrance tower and spiky dormer windows — just the sort of thing that might have come from the drawing board of George Gilbert Scott, the most eminent architect of that time. Scott’s Kelham Hall in Nottinghamshire, its bright red brick distantly visible from the western side of the carriage as the train heads north from Newark, gives the picture perfectly.

The illustration was by J.D.M.Harvey and appeared on both the dust wrapper and frontispiece of Waugh’s Handful of Dust (1934) in the U.K. editions published by Chapman & Hall. It did not appear in the U.S. edition published that same year by Farrar and Rinehart. Waugh’s reference to the Victorian taste in which the drawing was executed is in a letter to Tom Driberg dated September 1934 (Letters, 88).

NOTE (25 September 2015): After the foregoing was written, an article by another architectural historian/ critic was posted that implicates Waugh’s own architectural tastes as well those of his contemporaries Graham Greene and George Orwell. This was “Dark city: the architectural imaginaries of Senate House” by Paul Dobraszczyk:

Both Graham Greene and, more famously, George Orwell, would seize on Senate House’s wartime function and extrapolate the building’s imaginative possibilities: whether as the dark heart of an international spying network in Greene’s novel The Ministry of Fear (1943), or the even darker heart of a future totalitarian dystopia in Orwell’s Nineteenth-Eighty-Four (1949). Likewise, in Evelyn Waugh’s wartime novel Put Out More Flags (1942), the building’s ‘gross mass of machinery’ protected ‘all the secrets of the services’.

The POMF quote is from the scene where Ambrose pays a visit to the Ministry Of Information, then occupying the Senate House (Ch. 1 Autumn, section 7, p. 73).

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