Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Grieve
Born: 13 March 1863
Died: 22 March 1939
Bio Notes: James Grieve was born at East Calder in Kirknewton parish, Midlothian, on 13 March 1863, the eldest son of Thomas Grieve, an Edinburgh-born master carpenter, and his wife, Elizabeth Baird Grainger Brown. Within three years, Thomas Grieve moved to the village of Broughton in Peeblesshire, where James was to retain lifelong associations. Apprenticed to Alexander Dickson of Peebles during the 1870's, the 18 year-old Grieve is termed 'builder' on the 1881 census, while lodging in the town.

Exactly where, and with whom, Grieve worked in the early years of his career is uncertain. However, he soon went west, for in 1889, on his marriage to Jessie McGill, a farm labourer's daughter at Beith, Ayrshire, he was a 'joiner journeyman' living in Paisley. The 1891 census saw him returning him east, to Stockbridge in Edinburgh, when he is noted as a 'house carpenter & joiner'.

Grieve married three times, his first wife dying in 1897 of tuberculosis. By his second marriage, to Annie MacDonald, in 1899, he had been elevated to 'clerk of works', the position for which, especially through his sterling work for Sir Robert Lorimer, he is best remembered. He was then living in Morningside with the three children from his first wife, remaining resident there after the death of his second wife from peritonitis in 1910, and his subsequent marriage to Lillias Moodie in 1914.

Grieve's first known project as a clerk, or superintendent, of works was at Manderston House, Duns, c1902-5, for John Kinross, in whose office it has been suggested that Grieve studied architecture at some time and carried out research for the Marquess of Bute. In c.1898, he wrote to Lord Bute's secretary, in Kinross's absence, regarding Pluscarden Priory (letter dated 1st June 1898). He guided the Edinburgh Architectural Association Spring Holiday visit about Manderston in 1903, and his name was included among the subscribers to Bailey Scott Murphy's folio, 'English and Scottish Wrought Ironwork' (1904).

In 1906 Grieve was employed in a similar role to that at Manderston at Ardkinglas House, Argyll, by Robert Lorimer, who, jubilant at the smooth passage of the project, wrote that he had 'had the finest clerk of works man ever had.' He went on to work for Lorimer at Monzie (Perthshire), and then from 1909-11, on the construction of the Thistle Chapel at St Giles' Edinburgh, a project of great cultural significance to Scotland. There, Grieve's undoubted skills as a builder and joiner, as well as a manager of both men and materials, were again well proven. He always felt that this was his finest work and he continued to use, as his bookplate, a photograph of himself outside the chapel. It had the inscription 'Jacobus Grieve - Magister Exactus Exigo MDCCCCX; he preferred the title 'Master of Works'. Grieve went on to carry out the same function for Lorimer at Dunderave Castle, Argyll, in 1911 and at Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland, in 1915. For the Earl of Seafield he restored Castle Grant in 1912 and Cullen House (or Seafield House?) in 1913.

At some point between 1912 and 1924 Grieve began working for James Grant & Co. He may have taken over the firm on the retirement of James Grant who was operating it prior to 1912. In his obituary Grieve is recorded as being the sole partner. The firm operated initially from 128 Pitt Street but by the 1930s from Holland Street in Glasgow.

A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, Grieve restored two Peeblesshire antiquities: St Llolan's and St Mungo's (Kentigern's) Cells at Broughton and Stobo Kirks in 1927 and 1929 respectively. In these romantic, arts and crafts conjectures, he was misguided, however; the so-called cells are likely chantry chapels or mortuary aisles. Grieve also excavated St Gordian's Kirk ruins at Manor, and was instrumental in the removal of the inscribed, late 6th century, 'Coninie' Stone to Peebles Museum, to which he also presented William Brodie's marble statuette of Mary Queen of Scots. When Lord Braxfield disposed of his interests in Broughton, Grieve restored a row of cottages and nearby old bridge over the burn.

In 1932, on the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Scott, Grieve was commissioned by the Burgh of Peebles Council to design and build the George Meikle Kemp Memorial at Redscaurhead. An extension to the workshop of the joiner Andrew Noble, to whom Kemp was apprenticed, this comprises a gable with crowsteps recalling those of Scott's home at Abbotsford, done in very durable synthetic stone and inserted with a bronze profile bust of Kemp by Handyside Ritchie. That year he also presented a similar plaque to West Linton School, where Kemp was taught by John Mossman.

Grieve was a keen photographer and he a fine collection of "Baxter" colour prints. He collected fine furniture, oil paintings, ceramics, enamels and a significant library of architectural and archaeological books. Moreover the Scott Morton & Company Letterbooks record Grieve's fascination with meteorology, notably the rainfall patterns at Ardkinglas. He was an elder of Pollokshields PArish Church and footed much of the cost of alterations to the church.

Aged 72, James Grieve died of streptococcal septicaemia at 54 Terregles Avenue, Glasgow, on 22 March 1939; his third wife survived him until 1954.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 11Burnside Cottage, Broughton, Peeblesshire, ScotlandPrivate1871 * From 1871 census
Item 2 of 11Bridgehouse Terrace, Peebles, Peeblesshire, ScotlandPrivate1881 * From 1881 census
Item 3 of 1115, Underwood Road, Paisley, Renfrewshire, ScotlandPrivate1889 *  
Item 4 of 1143, Deanhaugh Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1891 * From 1891 census
Item 5 of 1151, Deanhaugh Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1897 *  
Item 6 of 112, Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1898c. 1905 
Item 7 of 1119, Balcarres Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate18991901From census (and directories?)
Item 8 of 111, Comiston Gardens, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate19101914 
Item 9 of 11128, Pitt Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1920s  
Item 10 of 1154, Terregles Avenue, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1920s *1939 
Item 11 of 1118, Holland Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessEarly 1930s1939 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3James Grant & Co  Partner 
Item 2 of 3John Kinross1898c. 1903(?)Apprentice 
Item 3 of 3John Kinrossc. 1903(?)Before 1905Clerk of Works 

Buildings and Designs

This was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 141902Manderston House, including service court and motor houseDuns BerwickshireScotlandRefurbishment and major extension of late 18th century house, new entrance front, lavish interior decoration - as clerk of works
Item 2 of 141906ArdkinglasCairndow ArgyllScotlandActed as clerk of works to Lorimer
Item 3 of 141908Monzie Castle and stablesCrieff PerthshireScotlandReinstatement of old house after second fire with new interior work and all furnishings - as clerk of works
Item 4 of 141909St Giles Cathedral, Chapel of the Order of the Thistle  EdinburghScotlandAs clerk of works to Lorimer
Item 5 of 141911Dunderave CastleInveraray (near) ArgyllScotlandRestoration and additions to castle and gardens and landscaping, including summer house - as clerk of works to Lorimer
Item 6 of 141912Castle GrantGrantown-on-Spey MorayshireScotlandRestoration - as clerk of works
Item 7 of 141912FormakinBishopton RenfrewshireScotlandRestoration of old meal mill - as clerk of works to Lorimer
Item 8 of 141913Cullen House and estate buildingsCullen BanffshireScotlandRestoration - as clerk of works
Item 9 of 141915Dunrobin CastleDunrobin SutherlandScotlandRestoration after fire. Also additional internal reinstatement and remodelling - as clerk of works to Lorimer
Item 10 of 141920sRow of houses of two storeysBroughton PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 11 of 141923Bridge on the Dreva Road, across Broughton WaterBroughton PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 12 of 141926Old Parish ChurchBroughton PeeblesshireScotlandRebuilding of vault
Item 13 of 141928Stobo ChurchStobo PeeblesshireScotlandRebuilding of the outer walls and vault of the north aisle
Item 14 of 141932(?)Moy Hall, Redscarshead, Memorial gable to George Meikle KempPeebles PeeblesshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 8British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 8Cruft, Kitty, Dunbar, John and Fawcett, Richard2006Borders (The Buildings of Scotland) New Haven and London: Yale University Pressp814
Item 3 of 8Matthew, Stuart1988The Knights and Chapel of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle: A panoramic view Edinburgh: Eaglebank Publications 
Item 4 of 8Methuen, J Faichney1988George Meikle Kemp, Carpenter, Architect of the Scott Monument   
Item 5 of 8Post Office Directories     
Item 6 of 8Randall, John1997Stobo Kirk   
Item 7 of 8RCAHMS Peeblesshire Inventory   
Item 8 of 8Savage, Peter1980Lorimer and the Edinburgh Craft Designers Edinburgh: Paul Harris Publishing, 1980 (also paperback ed, London & Edinburgh: Steve Savage, 2005)pp 98, 115

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Border MagazineDecember 1927xxxiii  
Item 2 of 2Scotsman23 March 1939  Obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 6Courtesy of Morag CrossInformation sent to DSA Sent November 2010
Item 2 of 6Information by emailResearch and biography by Louise Boreham and Neil Brown Sent October 2007
Item 3 of 6National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSNMRS Photographic Archive Photos of Thistle Chapel with comments by James Grieve
Item 4 of 6National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSScott Morton (formerly Peter Miller) Collection, RIAS Letterbooks - letter dated 1 June 1898
Item 5 of 6Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Biographical information from D C Mays
Item 6 of 6RIAS Collection, NMRS, RCAHMSHistory and Reminiscences of the Edinburgh Architectural Association