Statement of Sampson Kempthorne, regarding the workhouse architecture of George Gilbert Scott.
Sampson Kempthorne was an architect working in and around London. In 1841, he wrote a letter to Jonah Magnus, who was working on esoteric cases in Edinburgh Townhouse at the time, to explain the strange events surrounding George Gilbert Scott. Sampson and his wife, Marianne, were about to leave for New Zealand, which gave him the confidence to speak out.
George trained under Henry Roberts, who was in turn trained by Robert Smirke, although Smirke had also tutored George personally. He and Sampson collaborated together on a design for a workhouse. However, George's planning methods were strange: he would stare at the plans for hours, before taking them into his office and locking the door. In there, he would mutter and scream to himself, before emerging glistening with effort, new designs in hand. These designs were worse in Sampson's eyes: they sacrificed practicality for symmetry and the spaces became smaller with each iteration.
When George's father died in 1834, he and Sampson parted ways, a relief to Sampson. Shortly afterwards, Sampson was invited to a social function hosted by Henry. Here, he met Robert Smirke, and asked him about George's training. Robert said that he didn't think Sampson realised how much of a lucky escape he had, and that his training had been about balance and equilibrium, a subject about which Robert spoke passionately as "the true goal of the architect". Robert then started to rant, saying that George took too many shortcuts and that he didn't understand some patron. Eventually Henry appeared and took Robert away.
George started to work with William Bonython Moffatt, a builder's son, on workhouses to George's design. Together they started to poach Sampson's commissions, something that Sampson found extremely unprofessional. One evening in 1836, around the same time they opened their first workhouse, Sampson was working late. After midnight, although the building was locked he heard steps outside his room along with the tapping of a cane and the jangle of keys. As he heard this, he felt the room pressing in around him so he could hardly breathe or move. After a few minutes the sensation stopped and he heard the footsteps walking away. He ventured out to see who this person was, and saw a short, wide figure wearing a tall black hat that just showed grey wisps of hair. It had a black cane with an iron tip and went into one of the clerk's offices. Upon searching, Sampson found nothing but one of George's plans behind a table.
Sampson went to find George on one of his construction sites. He found him talking to a worker, who kept asking for 'The Governor', who had had a bunch of keys and who had called his associate, Harry, idle. He was gesturing to a wall which was smooth except for four fingertips sticking out of it.
Jonathan Sims has read up on Robert Smirke, but found nothing about this supposed interest in the esoteric and supernatural. Although Henry Robert's own buildings do not appear to have featured hauntings, he worked on Fishmonger's Hall with George which was supposedly the scene of a few minor hauntings. Jonathan remarks that George worked on St Pancras Station, Albert Memorial, and the restoration of Westminster Abbey, which is concerning if his buildings turn out to be esoteric.
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- Related Entity: The Buried