An important collection recently acquired by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will provide the public with the opportunity to find out further details about Rosslyn Chapel. The collection of drawings, manuscripts and engravings assembled by prominent architectural publisher and antiquarian John Britton (1771-1857), reveals contemporary thoughts from the likes of architects William Burn and George Meikle Kemp about its restoration and history.
The 19th-century restoration work to the medieval Chapel became the source of disagreement and debate, revealed in HES’s newly acquired collection, which includes evidence of correspondence between artist David Roberts and John Britton about the work. The papers also contain the views of Britton’s circle of correspondents including George Meikle Kemp, architect of the Scott Monument, and Sir Walter Scott himself, highlighting how passionately architects and artists alike felt about the building, and the regard in which Rosslyn Chapel was held.
The collection will be available for visitors to view by appointment in the Search Room of the HES Archives. HES then plan to carefully conserve and catalogue the collection, with the digitisation process taking place during 2022-23, to create a digital copy that will be available to a wider audience using the online catalogue Canmore.
The acquisition of this album was made possible with a grant from Friends of the National Libraries and the support and advice of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust.
Veronica Fraser, Acquisitions and Loans Manager at HES said: ‘This collection holds particular importance as it relates to one of Scotland’s most renowned and architecturally fascinating historic buildings and demonstrates how it invoked so much inspiration and strength of feeling in the past and continues to intrigue people from around the world to this day. HES are delighted to be able to make this wealth of information available to researchers and members of the public and we are grateful to the generosity of the Friends of the National Libraries and the support of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust to bring this material into our archives and provide people with the opportunity to find out more about this exciting chapter in the Chapel’s story.’
Ian Gardner, Director of Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said: ‘It’s wonderful that this important collection of papers relating to Rosslyn Chapel is now in the safe care of Historic Environment Scotland and will be available for public consultation. Since it was founded in 1446, the Chapel has attracted, intrigued and inspired debate amongst artists, writers and visitors, as clearly shown in this collection, and it continues to do so today.’
Photo: The Countess of Rosslyn (Chair),and Ian Gardner (Director), of Rosslyn Chapel Trust, preview the collection of manuscripts