at Lennoxlove House in East Lothian and Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland.
Although much of his work, and reputation, was in the sphere of domestic architecture, Lorimer also carried out significant public works. Principal amongst these include his design for the new chapel for the Knights of the Thistle in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh in 1911. He received a knighthood for his efforts and went on to gain the commission for the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle in 1919, subsequently opened by the Prince of Wales in 1927.
After working with Sir Rowand Anderson in Edinburgh and G.F. Bodley in London, Lorimer set up practice for himself in 1893 at 49 Queen Street, Edinburgh. The principal source of Lorimer's inspiration was Scottish domestic architecture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The first work that brought Lorimer to public notice was the new chapel for the Knights of the Thistle, St Giles Cathedral, 1911, for which he received a knighthood. There is no doubt that the success of the Thistle Chapel prompted his selection to design the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle in 1919. After some alterations to the original plan this building was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1927.
During his early career, Lorimer, influenced by the ideas of William Morris, became an exponent of the Arts and Crafts style of architecture. He gathered around him in Edinburgh a talented group of artists and craftsmen and together contributed furniture to the Arts and Crafts exhibitions in London. In 1896 he was elected to the Art Workers Guild.
Lorimer designed a series of cottages in the Arts and Crafts style in the Colinton area of Edinburgh and also the Roman Catholic Church of St Peter, Morningside. These 'Colinton Cottages' were built using traditional construction methods and materials. They came with a package of garden layout and interior design, including furniture, all contributing to the overall arts and crafts concept. Examples of these cottages include 'Westfield', 40 Pentland Avenue and 'Binley Cottage', 42 Pentland Avenue. In 1900, eight cottages had been built and four more were under construction.
However by 1901 the impetus for the Arts and Crafts cottage movement was waning and Lorimer started to work on a series of large scale country house commissions in a Scots Baronial style: Brackenburgh, 1901-3; Rowallen, 1902, Ardkinglas, 1906 and Formakin, 1908. With the outbreak of World War 1, the demand for large new houses declined and Lorimer's practice concentrated on restoration projects. Lorimer had already established a reputation as one of Scotland's leading restoration architects following the restoration of Earlshall in 1899 and Hill of Tarvit in 1905, both in Fife.
Lorimer managed to impart an essence of Scottish spirit in all he designed and was an ardent nationalist. His influence spread well beyond the confines of Scotland.
His most eminent pupil Percy E. Nobbs called him 'the last of the great Romantics' so while one may admire the Thistle Chapel and the Scottish War Memorial it is