Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer, KBE, lived from 4 November 1864 to 13 September 1929. He was an architect known particularly for his restorations of historic houses and castles and his promotion of the Arts & Crafts style. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Robert Lorimer was born in Edinburgh, the son of James Lorimer, who was Regius Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and at the University of Edinburgh. From the age of 14, family holidays were spent restoring Kellie Castle in Fife, on which his father had taken a lease. This was something that would strongly influence his early architectural work.
On leaving university, Lorimer initially worked for the architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, and then in 1893 set up his own practice. His approach was initially heavily influenced by the traditional Scot Baronial style found in many mansions built in the 1500s and 1600s and typified by Kellie Castle. He also found himself drawn to the work of William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement. Almost as a sideline, Lorimer became part of a group who exhibited furniture at Arts and Crafts exhibitions in London. As a result he was elected to the Art Workers Guild in 1869.
Among Lorimer's Arts & Crafts designs are the Colinton Cottages, built in the Colinton area of Edinburgh in the years either side of 1900. Before long, however, the popularity of Arts & Crafts had declined, and Lorimer moved back to Scots Baronial for a series of country house restorations, including Ardkinglas House on Loch Fyne, Hill of Tarvit in Fife, Lennoxlove House in East Lothian, and Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland.
In 1911, Lorimer was commissioned to design a new chapel for the Knights of the Thistle in St Giles Cathedral. The result was a triumph which led to his being awarded a knighthood. In 1919 he was commissioned to design the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle. Lorimer also served as President of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. Sir Robert Lorimer died in Edinburgh in 1929. His second son was the sculptor Hew Lorimer.