Tuesday, 7 March 2017


The first half of an article from The Gentleman's Magazine.  for July 1838. The writer is unnamed, but was clearly the magazine's regular corespondent, Edward James Carlos.  In general, Carlos prefers Gothic church designs to classical ones, but is frustrated by the low quality and superficial styling of the "pointed" designs presented at the academy. The catty remarks on Inwood  and Clifton' church in  Islington are particularly delightful.

Of the churches listed, those at Bury, Hereford, Islington and Honiton survive. Brookes' work at Dorking was considerably altered  later in the 19th century, and the buildings at Blackheath and Whitechapel have been demolished. Newman's design for Southwark was never built, the job going instead to Pugin.

This is a portion of the annual exhibition which has never received from the council of the academy the attention which the subjects demand: either the designs sent in are deficient in numbers, or a want of judgment must have influenced the selection of those which are exhibited. This fault was very apparent in the former gallery; it is not remedied in the present. The room appropriated to the architectural drawings is not sufficiently large to display them to advantage, and even the brief space which is allotted is still incroached upon by another class of subjects. 
CR Cockerell's tribute to Wren
 If any designs have been rejected, it would be a curious speculation to endeavour to ascertain the causes which led to such a step; for among those which are exhibited we notice some which had better have been left out — puffs for railways, which will never be heard of out of the share-market, and the fittings-up of rooms by paper-hangers, neither of which description of designs have any business in the exhibition, however useful they may be as advertisements. We give priority, both on account of its originality and artist-like character, to a fine drawing by Mr. C. R. Cockerell, R. A. entitled,
1111. Tribute to the memory of Sir Christopher Wren, being a collection of his principal works.—The principal, if not all the known works of the great master, are brought together and grouped in a pyramidal form with great taste and skill. The summit of the eminence is crowned with the grand masterpiece of Wren, St. Paul's; on one side, the towers and intended spire of Westminster just show themselves; below the cathedral, Greenwich and Chelsea are exhibited as examples of palatial architecture, and the observatory seen in the distance of the domestic class; the vast collection of London spires spring up in the foreground and middle distance, each with its proper elevation, and every one distinctly marked in detail; the interior of a church or two in section, the Oxford Theatre, and the dome of the Physicians' College, are also shown: the entire composition forming one of the most splendid architectural groups imaginable. The well-known epitaph forms an appropriate motto; and the whole is worthy of the deepest regard, not only as a collection of fine architectural objects, but as a just tribute to a wonderful exercise of human genius. What would be the feelings of a stranger to Wren and London when he witnesses this aggregation of beautiful objects, to be told that the whole were the production of one individual ?—What powers of mind must that man have possessed—what an inexhaustible fund of imagination must have been at his command? We hope Mr. Cockerell will not omit to engrave this design. 
In ecclesiastical architecture, there are many subjects; but the majority do not rise above common-place. Of this class the following are examples:  
1063. View of the Catholic Church of St. Edmund at Bury. C. Day.
1199. The Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier, Broad-street, Hereford. C. Day.—A plain unbroken body or nave, with a recess on the principal front, in which is placed two columns, is the leading feature of each design: the first is Ionic, the second Doric; both are of Grecian architecture. In the second design, a cupola peeps above the roof, an excessively correct addition to a Grecian portico: the cross alone marks the character of the edifice ; remove the sacred symbol, and the design will suit any other description of building for which it may be needed—an assembly or auction-room, a court house, or a mechanics' institution. —Why was not the Pointed style used? 
St Mark, Whitechapel, Wyatt and Brandon's "church  on the Tenter-ground". Demolished 1927. Image source and more information here.
 1084. The new Church erecting on the Tenter-ground for the Metropolis Church fund, by Wyatt and Brandon.—A plain structure with a diminutive spire set on a square tower. The chief fault is an attempt to produce more than the means of the architects allowed.

Inwood and Clifton's St Stephen, Canonbury. Photo by John Salmon via Geograph
1157. New Gothic Church as approved by the Metropolitan Church Commissioners, and now commencing in the New North Road, Islington, from the designs and under the superintendance of Messrs. W.and H. W. Inwood.—W. Inwood, H. W. Inwood, and E. N. Clifton.—An exceedingly bald elevation, showing a square naked wall for its principal front, in three divisions, the centre being carried up to form a tower. And what a concentration of talent is necessary to raise this pile! We here witness three architects conjoined in building a brick wall: a century ago one was deemed sufficient to design and execute a cathedral.
Christ Church, Cheltenham. The name of the architect was actually Jearrad.
 1249. Model of Christ Church, Alstone, now building in the parish of Cheltenham. R. W. and C. Jerraud.—An attempt at Gothic architecture; a genuine meeting-house set off with a stock of pinnacles. It would be desirable to know the mode by which joint-stock productions in architecture are created. Are the designs individual!? the work of more than one hand? Or does the plurality of names merely denote a partnership in trade? 
James William  Wild's  Holy Trinity, Blackheath Hill.  Demolished 1954. Image: British Library.
1085. Design selected by the Committee for the New Church to be erected on Blackheath Hill. J. W. Wild.— This is a lancet  Gothic church, the east end polygonal, situated between two towers crowned with spires; to be grand, such a design should be executed on a large scale, and with a greater degree of expense than is likely to be allowed to a church built by subscription. The design is foreign: towers in such a situation are exceedingly rare in England, and the ridge ornaments seen on the roof are in this country confined to a solitary example.
1196. The New Parish Church of St. Martin, Dorking, Surrey. W.M. Brookes. —One of those structures which seems to make the antiquary the more keenly regret the loss of the older church. So much of the preceding structure as exists tends to give an ecclesiastical appearance to the pile, but the tower and transepts are marred by the long ugly body with a slated roof, which serves as the nave.
1221. Sketch of the Roman Catholic Church, proposed to be erected in St. George's Fields. J. Newman.—A cruciform design in the lancet style, with a central tower and spire; it appears to possess character in the general design, but the sketch does not show the detail sufficiently. 
Charles Fowler's church of S Paul at Honiton

1226. The Church just erected at Honiton. C. Fowler.—A Norman design, but too lofty in its proportions: a plain spire is intended, but it is not yet completed.

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