Dinner party in honour of Elisabeth Scott at Women's Service House, London, 1928 © Mary Evans Picture Library
Fawcett Building Newham College Cambridge
Royal Shakespeare Theatre 1
Royal Shakespeare Theatre 2
Royal Shakespeare Theatre 3
Portrait Elisabeth Scott


1928 First woman architect to win a major architectural competition: Shakespeare 
Memorial Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon.

1920 – 1924 Diploma in Architecture, Architectural Association

Main Projects
1928 – 1932 Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon
1934 Class E House, Gidea Park, London
1935 The Wharrie Cabman’s Shelter, London
1935 – 1938 Fawcett Building, Newham College, Cambridge
1938 Northallerton Senior School, Oxon and Northallerton, Yorks
1960 – 1962 Pavilions on Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers, Hants

Elisabeth Whitworth Scott

Architect (1898 – 1972)

“Miss Scott’s success is not the fruit of a lifetime spent at the kitchen sink or time spent on the interior of cupboards … Her success is not because she is a woman or in spite of being a woman. Her sex is a godsend for the Press and the plain fact is that she won the competition as an architect without any prefix.”

    On the Winning of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre
    at Stratford-upon-Avon, “Women in Architecture” article,
    Builder 27 January 2023

Elisabeth Whitworth Scott was a great-niece of the architects George Gilbert Scott and George Frederick Bodley and was also second cousin to Giles Gilbert Scott, who was the architect of Liverpool Cathedral. Whitworth Scott graduated from the Architectural Association in 1924 the school having admitted women from 1917. In January 1928 Scott won an international competition for the new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. The only woman in a field of more than 70, she was still too young to vote.

The win put Scott on the international stage with significant press coverage. Her win was a source of significant inspiration for many women and women architects. Judith Ledeboer, a leading postwar architect, changed her career path immediately on hearing of Scott’s win. As a member of the Junior Council of London and National Society for Women’s Service, Scott promoted women and employed female architectural staff whenever possible. On the completion of the  Shakespeare Memorial Theatre over 100,000 people came to see the Prince of Wales declare it  open. Scott went on to design further buildings with her partners John Shepherd, Maurice Chesterton and John Breakwell, including her design for the Marie Curie Hospital in Hampstead and the Fawcett Building, Newham College, Cambridge. 

Although she continued to practise, not retiring until she was 70, Scott was largely forgotten. When she joined Bournemouth Town Council architects’ department in the late 1950s few of her colleagues knew of Scott’s reputation. She went on to design The Pier Theatre for the seaside town in which she had been born. “Once celebrated by fellow architects and critics, lionised by feminists, the subject of a thousand newspaper articles, the self-effacing Elisabeth Scott’s success in the 1927 competition transformed prospects for women in the architectural profession in the 20th century.”  Gillian Darley

In 2012, eighty years after the original opening, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre has been sensitively refurbished, extended and enhanced by Bennetts Associates bringing the name of Elizabeth Whitworth to prominence once again.

download profile:
Elizabeth Scott

PDFs for download:
Golden Age or False Dawn? Women Architects in the 20th Century , Lynne Walker

Elizabeth Whitworth Scott, Sarah Collins Howard

further links:
National Society for Women’s Services (Fawcett Society)
Elizabeth Scott: A Stage of her own, the Guardian
Architect Profile: Elizabeth Whitworth Scott