Watson Fothergill's Office – Nottingham, England - Atlas Obscura

Watson Fothergill's Office

When it came to designing his own small office building, the eccentric architect wasn't afraid to show the world what he could do. 


This out-of-place fairytale building was designed by Nottingham’s famed Victorian gothic architect, Watson Fothergill, as his own fantasy premises.

Born in nearby Mansfield in 1841, Fothergill greatly influenced the architecture of the growing city of Nottingham with his whimsical gothic revival buildings, characterised by contrasting brickwork, dark timber framing, gargoyles, turrets, and other mock defensive features. By the time of his retirement in 1906,  he had completed over 100 weird and wonderful edifices in the city.

Many of his designs were on a grand scale, like banks, churches, large offices, and factories. However, when it came to designing a more modest-sized premises for his own needs in 1893, Fothergill didn’t mess about. He shoehorned in as many of his favourite anarchic architectural features as possible into the space of a tiny shop, creating this faux-fairytale gingerbread cottage on an industrial city backstreet.

The building, featuring fantasy elements most European cathedrals would be proud of, served as both a tangible, life-size architectural catalogue and an advertisement for Fothergill’s considerable artistic prowess. The dinky structure, sandwiched between two comparatively dull Georgian-style buildings,  boasts gargoyles, friezes, and turrets: a miniature masterpiece of both gothic revival architecture and shameless self-publicity.

Know Before You Go

The offices are on George Street between Nottingham's bohemian Hockley district and Lower Parliament Street. Hungry or thirsty Fothergill fans should be pleased to learn that Fothergill's Bar and Restaurant on Castle Road and the Rose of England pub on Mansfield Road were both also designed by the man himself.

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