considered to be the right thing; cathedral bodies vied with each other in restoration, and were enthusiastic in the cause; there were few if any dissenting voices; and in regard to the interiors of the cathedrals which were in modern use as places of worship, much that he did really required to be done to put them into decent condition. His churches have ceased to be interesting now, as is usually the case with copied architecture; but when they were built they were exactly what every one wanted and was asking for. And he produced at all events one original work which is a great deal better than it is now the fashion to think—the Albert Memorial. It is injured by the statue, for which the commission went to the wrong sculptor; but Scott’s idea of producing, as he phrased it, “a shrine on a great scale,” was really a fine one, and finely carried out. The most important objection to it is one which popular criticism does not recognize, viz. that the vault is tied by concealed iron ties, and would hardly be safe without them. But apart from that it is a fine conception, and Scott was right in regarding it as his best work.
G. E. Street, who was a pupil of Scott, was a greater enthusiast for medieval architecture (which, with him, as with Pugin, included medieval religion) than even Scott, and an architect of greater force and individuality. He was especially devoted to the early Transitional type of Gothic, and in all his buildings there is apparent the feeling for the solidity and monumental character, and the reticence in the use of ornament, which is characteristic of the Transitional period. His churches are noteworthy for their monumental character; and he had a remarkable faculty for giving an appearance of scale and dignity to the interiors of comparatively small churches. Hence his modern-medieval churches retain their interest more than Scott’s, but in respect of secular architecture his taste was hopelessly medievalized, and his great building, the law courts in London, can only be regarded as a costly failure; it is not even beautiful except in regard to some good detail; it is badly planned; and the one fine interior feature, the great vaulted hall, is rendered useless by not being on the same floor with the courts, so that instead of being a salle des pas perdus it is a desert. Street’s career is a warning how real architectural talent and vigour may be stultified by a sentimental adherence to a past phase of architecture. No modern architect had more fully penetrated the spirit of Gothic architecture, and his nave of Bristol cathedral is as good as genuine medieval work, and might pass for such when time-worn; but that is rather archaeology than architecture.
The competition for the law courts was one of the great architectural events of the middle of the century, and made or raised the reputation even of some of the unsuccessful competitors. Edward Barry (the son of Sir Charles) gained the first place for “plan,” which the advisers of the government had foolishly separated from “design” (as if the plan of a building could be considered apart from the architectural conception!), giving first marks for plan, and second for design. E. Barry therefore had really gained the competition, “design,” which was awarded to Street, counting second; but Street managed to push him out, and it is a nemesis on him for this by no means loyal proceeding that the building he contrived to get entirely into his own hands has served to injure rather than benefit his reputation. William Burges (1827-1881), an ardent devotee of French early Gothic, produced a design in that style, which, though quite unsuitable practically, is a greater evidence of architectural power than is furnished by any of his executed buildings. J. P. Seddon (1828-1906), an old adherent of Rossetti and the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, an architect of genius who never got his opportunity, produced a design which was wildly picturesque in appearance but in reality more practical than might be thought at first sight, and his proposal for a great Record tower for housing official records was a really fine and original idea.
Among the ecclesiastical buildings of the Gothic revival those of William Butterfield (1814-1900), much less numerous than those of Scott and Street, have a special interest as the work of a revival architect who was something more than a mere archaeologist. All Saints, Margaret Street (1859), is the production of an architectural artist using medieval materials to carry out a conception of his own, and hence, like Babbacombe church and others by the same hand, it has an interest for the present day which Scott’s churches have not. His Keble College chapel rather failed from an exaggeration of the use of polychromatic materials, which in some of his other churches he had used with moderation and with good effect. J. L. Pearson was another distinguished architect of the later period of the Gothic revival who was able to put something of his own into modern Gothic churches. No one was more learned in medieval architecture than he was; and as of Street’s nave of Bristol, so we may say of Pearson’s nave of Truro, that it is as good as medieval Gothic; indeed Truro nave is finer in character than some of the ancient cathedral naves, and represents pure Gothic at its best. But in the exteriors of his churches, as at Truro and in the churches of Kilburn and Red Lion Square, Pearson evolved a Gothic of his own which is Pearsonesque and not merely archaeological. James Brooks (1825-1901) also deserves an honoured place in the chronicle of the Gothic revival for being the first to show how large town churches might be erected in brick (fig. 93), in which largeness of scale and a certain grandeur of effect could be obtained without extravagant cost, and in which it was practically demonstrated that architecture in the true Gothic spirit could be produced without depending on ornament.
Fig. 93.—Exterior of modern English Church. (James Brooks.)
Alfred Waterhouse began his remarkable career as an adherent of the Gothic revival, and merits separate mention inasmuch as he was the only one of the Gothic revivalists who from the first set himself to adapt Gothic to secular uses and to make out of it a modern Gothic manner of his own. His first success was made with the Manchester law courts, a design more purely Gothic than his later works, and an admirably planned building (the only good point in the national law courts plan, the access to the public galleries, is taken from it); his special style was more developed in the Manchester town hall, a building typical both of the defects and merits of his secular Gothic style. This style of his received the compliment, for a good many years, of an immense amount of imitation; in fact, during that earlier period of his work it may be said to have influenced every secular building that was erected in the medieval style all over England. His Gothic detail was, however, not very refined, and he has been subject to the same kind of retrospective injustice which has fallen on Scott, critics in both instances forgetting that what they do not like now was what every one liked then, and could not have enough of. Waterhouse was a master of plan, and a man of immense business and administrative ability, without which he could not have carried out the