Comparing the Gothic Revival in England Before and After 1820

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Comparing the Gothic Revival in England Before and After 1820

The Gothic revival in England before and after 1820 was very different in many ways.

Before the start of the Gothic revival the mediaeval style, since the last Gothic structure in 1509 of Henry VII ’s chapel, was seen as irrational and illogical and as one man described it as barbaric. This was one of the main causes that the mediaeval buildings of the 18th century fell into disrepair. During the Cromwellian period many Gothic buildings were classical in the interior and church interiors in the 17th century became increasingly boring and plain. Many statues, altars and windows were destroyed.

Some attempts at gothic architecture were made in 17th century but many were a mix-match of ideas. Even though in the early1600’s there was an early flowering of mediaeval architecture with the Kings College in Cambridge.

This carried on in to the 18th century where more and more people dabbled in the gothic style with out a full understanding of how gothic architecture worked as a structural system. They confused stages of the gothic period, which were later defined by Thomas Rickman in is writing, and also used Classical forms such as pilaster and venetian windows. Many interiors were of a classical form a layout and some times other style were thrown in. Some gothic forms were even used on the exterior of building where they didn’t perform the function they were meant to. This shows how little the architects of the 18th century studied the mediaeval and how little they understood it.

The interest of Gothic grew more and more as gothic was seen to stimulate the imagination. It was seen as part of English romantic tradition, which sparked off an interest in artificial ruins in landscape design of the 18th century. Which was used as a means of heightening the atmosphere of the garden. An example of some artificial ruins is that of Wimpole hall designed by James Essex in 1768.

Another inspirational architect in this time was William Kent. His designs using ogee pointed arches with a classical cornice inspired Batty Langley to produce a study in which he analyzed Gothic in terms of classical orders. A comparison with true mediaeval and Gothic architecture at this time shows that at this time all Gothic architecture was a decorative style to be applied as ornament to regular structures and s...

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.... After the houses of parliament burnt down the chosen style was Gothic not Classical. Pugin undertook all of the interior work. Another example was Scarisbirck Hall in Southport built in 1837 the great hall was with a timber framed roof with no classical plaster ceilings and it was all based on knowledge of the mediaeval architecture and all materials used were true.

Pugin’s own house in St. Marie’s Grange built in1835 is based mediaeval vernacular forms it is stone built simplified Gothic and it used the theory of fitness for purpose. With regard to his house and his other works he said ‘a picturesque that arises out of strict utility’.

John Ruskin(1819-1900) was very influential, his writings ‘Seven Lamps of Architecture’ influenced many people he had many similar view to Pugin apart from the fact he was Anglican and he led the way it their Gothic Revival. He also had a hope that there may be an acceptable style of iron architecture which may be developed so that Gothic could get a new lease of life.

Works Cited:

The Story of Architecture, Patrick Nuggins ,1996

History of Architecture Settings & Rituals, Spiro Kosof, 1985

Gothic Revival, Georg Germann, 1972

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