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Ruskinian / Victorian High Gothic Architecture

Many of the following images copyright Jeffery Howe. Special thanks to
Dean and Woodward: Natural History Museum, Oxford, 1855.    
G.G. Scott: Midland Hotel and St. Pancras Station  (Barlow and Ordish), London. St. Pancras Station St. Pancras Station
St. Pancras Station Sir G.G. Scott: The Albert Monument , London William Butterfield: Keble College, Oxford, 1867-83.
Sir G.G. Scott: The Albert Monument, London The Albert Monument William Butterfield: All Saint's Margaret Street, London. 1849
United States    
William Ware & Henry van Brunt: Memorial Hall, Harvard University, 1871-78 Memorial Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Memorial Hall
Memorial Hall Sturgis and Brigham: Former Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1871-78 Copley Square, Boston
F. Furness: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts , Philadelphia, 1876    
Provident Life and Trust Company, Philadelphia Ware and Van Brunt: First Church, Boston, 1868 Cummings and Sears: New Old South Church, Boston, 1874-75
New Old South Church New Old South Church New Old South Church
Olderfleet Buildings. Collins Street, Melbourne. Completed 1888 St George's Presbyterian Church. East St Kilda. Completed 1880 Former Stock Exchange. Collins Street, Melbourne. Completed 1888.
Former Safe Deposit Building. Collins Street, Melbourne. Completed 1890. ANZ Bank, Collins Street Melbourne. Completed 1883 Old Rialto. Collins Street, Melbourne. Completed 1888
Former Metropolitan Gas Company Buildings; Flinders Street, Melbourne. Completed 1892; Venetian Gothic applied to a tall building    
At the start of Queen Victoria’s long reign, the Gothic Revival in Britain was gathering momentum, with Barry and Pugin showing the way as their Houses of Parliament arose beside the Thames at the very heart of the British Empire. This was a time when architects made it their business to journey to the great cathedrals, the monasteries, the parish churches, the castles and the manor houses of the Middle Ages and to record them in measured drawings and freehand sketches. With inexpensive architectural periodicals providing professionals with a wealth of up-to-the-minute information, dedicated architects were able to acquire a wealth of knowledge about mediaeval buildings. It is thus not surprising that a high degree of scholarship is evident in the design of many Victorian buildings which adopted a Gothic style.
But there were good reasons why the designers of many buildings in the Gothic idiom were not especially concerned with archaeological correctness. Most nineteenth-century buildings had requirements vastly different from those of the Middle Ages; some, like railway stations, had no precedent. Many architects saw ‘modern Gothic’ as a style of the present, not the past. And there were those who lacked the expertise, and perhaps the desire, to take a scholarly approach to the re-use of elements of medieval architecture.
The writings of Ruskin, full of moral fervour and glowing descriptions of that most ‘impure’ of styles, Venetian Gothic, also tended to lead architects away from a drily academic regurgitation of medieval details to experiment with picturesque silhouettes and polychromatic surfaces. The rich, complex rhythms and textures of William Pitt’s late nineteenth-century commercial façades which line the city streets of Melbourne show how exuberantly Free Gothic designers departed from academic correctness as they expressed something of the euphoria generated by the city’s financiers in the years before the crash of the early 1890s.
Quoted from:
"A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Austrlian Architecture; Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present"
Angus & Robertson Sydney 1995 ISBN 0207 18562 X
Copyright © 1989 by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds.
Between 1855 and 1885, John Ruskin and other critics and philosophers stirred interest in authentic recreations of Gothic architecture. These buildings, called High Gothic Revival, High Victorian Gothic, or Neo-Gothic, were closely modeled after the great architecture of medieval Europe.

Perhaps the most famous example of High Victorian Gothic architecture is Victoria Tower at the royal Palace of Westminster in London, England. A fire destroyed most of the original palace in 1834. After lengthy debate, it was decided that architects Sir Charles Barry and A.W. Pugin would rebuild Westminster Palace in a High Gothic Revival style that imitated 15th century Perpendicular Gothic styling. Victoria Tower was named after the reigning Queen Victoria who took delight in Gothic Revival architecture.
High Victorian Gothic Revival architecture has many of these features:
Masonry construction
Patterned brick and multi-colored stone
Stone carvings of leaves, birds, and gargoyles
Strong vertical lines and a sense of great height
Realistic recreation of authentic medieval styles
Not surprisingly, Victorian High Gothic Revival architecture was usually reserved for churches, museums, rail stations, and grand public buildings. Private homes were considerably more restrained. Meanwhile in the United States, builders put a new spin on the Gothic Revival style.

Across the Atlantic, American builders began to borrow elements of British Gothic Revival architecture. New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis was evangelical about the ecclesiastical Gothic Revival style. He published floor plans and three-dimensional views in his 1837 book, Rural Residences. His design for Lyndhurst, an imposing country estate in Tarrytown, New York, became a showplace for Victorian Gothic architecture in the United States.