Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pugin, Edward Welby

PUGIN, EDWARD WELBY (1834–1875), architect, eldest son of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin [q. v.], by his second wife, Louisa Burton, was born on 11 March 1834. He received his professional training under his father, and, owing to the latter's failing health, found himself at the age of seventeen in control of a large practice. His father dying in 1852, there devolved upon Pugin the task of bringing to completion various important buildings then unfinished. He was thus launched at an early age with a large number of architectural engagements, which he soon succeeded in augmenting on his own account.

He was on several occasions an exhibitor of designs in the Royal Academy (see Catalogues, 1855, 1860–1–3–6–7, 1873–4); some of these were executed with Ashlin, a former pupil, who was his partner for a few years, and joined him in several buildings in Ireland, the chief of them being the cathedral at Queenstown. James Murray of Coventry, who died in 1863, was also his partner for a short time.

During Pugin's fourteen years of practice a very large number of works, chiefly Roman catholic churches, were entrusted to him. His principal undertakings were the following: The completion of his father's buildings at Scarisbrick Hall, Lancashire, and at Chirk Castle; the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Dadizeele, Belgium (1859), for which he received the papal order of St. Sylvester from Pius IX; St. Michael's Priory, Belmont, Herefordshire; the Church of SS. Peter and Paul, Cork; the Augustinian Church at Dublin; the College of St. Cuthbert and the Schools of St. Aloysius, Ushaw; several churches at Liverpool; the château of the bishop of Bruges (1861), in the style of the fourteenth century; churches at Kensington, Peckham, Stratford, Leeds, Preston, Sheerness, Stourbridge, Gorton, Kingsdown, and elsewhere; orphanages at Hellingly and Bletchingley; the restoration of the palace at Mayfield, Sussex; Harrington House, Leamington; Benton Manor; Croston Hall, Meanwood, near Leeds; Seels Buildings, Liverpool; additions to Garendon Hall, Leicester, and Carlton Towers, Yorkshire, for Lord Beaumont. In a design for the château of Baron von Carloon de Gouray at Lophem he was associated with J. Bethune of Ghent. He added to St. Augustine's Church, Ramsgate, and built the monastic buildings opposite the church.

In spite of his great success as an architect, which is said to have secured him during five years an average income of 8,000l. a year, his life was one of disappointment, and was marred by an apparently irresistible impulse to disputation. The celebrated discussion as to the true authorship of the houses of parliament was not a solitary instance of his aptitude for controversy [see under Pugin, Augustus Welby Northmore].

In architectural style he adhered to the lines in which he had been trained. His short career coincided with the high tide of the great Gothic revival, of which his father had been the leader. Although a facile and rapid draughtsman, he did not work with the same perception of the spirit of Gothic art; his work was harder and less thoughtful, and the uncouth Granville Hotel at the north end of the Ramsgate cliffs presents a woful contrast in style and other aspects to the buildings by his father at the south end of the town. This gigantic hotel, designed originally as a range of separate houses, was as great a blow to Pugin's finances as to his artistic fame. He was speculator as well as architect, and lost heavily by the venture.

Though Pugin dates from a Birmingham address in 1855, and in 1859 from 5 Gordon Square, he seems to have resided and worked principally at a house in Victoria Road, Westminster, where, on 4 June 1875, he died of syncope.

He is commemorated at Ramsgate by a marble bust in the gardens on the cliff.

[Builder, xxxiii. 523, and the Building News, xxviii. 670 (where lists of his works are given); Builder and Building News; Architectural Publication Society's Dictionary; private information.]

P. W.