Recusancy in Dorset and the ‘other tradition’ of Catholic church-building

It is inevitable that A.W.N. Pugin looms large in histories of Roman Catholic church-building in the 19th century. Yet in some ways he was as notable for the adopting the faith that he served through his architecture as he was for the buildings that he designed. Would Pugin be viewed in quite the same wayContinue reading “Recusancy in Dorset and the ‘other tradition’ of Catholic church-building”

From the picturesque to the sublime: Henry Darbishire and the architecture of philanthropy

The name of the architect may not stick in the memory; his greatest work most certainly will. Like many people, I learned about the Columbia Market in Bethnal Green and its tragic fate thanks to Hermione Hobhouse’s Lost London. Somewhere in my mid-teens, I discovered the book in the reference room of Kingston-upon-Thames public libraryContinue reading “From the picturesque to the sublime: Henry Darbishire and the architecture of philanthropy”

Robert Lewis Roumieu: progressive or prankster?

One is the former London office of a firm that produced vinegar and fortified wines. The other is a speculative development of townhouses aimed at the affluent middle classes. Fairly mundane projects typical of the 19th century, one might think; typical, indeed, of hundreds such up and down the country, brought into being by theContinue reading “Robert Lewis Roumieu: progressive or prankster?”

Welsh Baroque – Nonconformist swagger in Llanidloes

I was introduced to Ian Nairn by my father, who was a great admirer, owned a copy of Nairn’s London and got me watching the mini-series of his programmes repeated in 1990 with introductions by a very fresh-faced Jonathan Meades. Over the years, my attitude towards him has changed from initial incomprehension in my teensContinue reading “Welsh Baroque – Nonconformist swagger in Llanidloes”

A High Street extravaganza

An awful lot of towns in the Home Counties were badly sinned against in the post-war years by planners, developers, traffic engineers and architects, but few quite as grievously as Maidstone. While I can’t feel too upset about the destruction visited on certain places, where there may well never have been anything terribly interesting, MaidstoneContinue reading “A High Street extravaganza”