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 showed no structural or stylistic understanding. Many buildings possessed classical plans and interiors and many other classical forms.
James Wyatt who was mainly famous for his destructive restoration tactics also built Fonthill Abbey a great Gothic mansion but due to the size of the tower it fell down in 1812.
The most famous and first real serious attempt at gothic architecture was Strawberry Hill (1750-54) designed by Horace Walpole it took in account some considerations, using mediaeval sources, such as tombs in cathedrals and fan vaulting at Westminster. But it still used sham...