Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pugin - God's own Architect

This is written in conjunction with the previous post - The Convent School, which also makes reference to Pugin.
courtesy wikipedia
Portrait of Pugin in the National Portrait Gallery by an unknown artist 1812-1852.
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was the Architect most responsible for Gothic Rival in the early Victorian era. He achieved far more in his 40 year life span, than most could ever hope to do in a lifetime twice as long.
As a child he was influenced by his French born father who was a skilled draughtsman, and interested in medieval architecture. 
He had three wives, the first he married when he was 19 years old. She was already 5 months pregnant and died in childbirth. In the following months he lost both his mother and father, so by the age of 20 years he was all alone, a widower with a baby.
He married for a second time and had six children, but  his second wife also died. He had one further child with his third wife whom he was married to for only four years before his early death.
After he lost his first wife and his parents he decided to become a Roman Catholic convert. His conversion resulted in the loss of some commissions, but also brought him into contact with new patrons and employers within the Roman Catholic church, and in particular the Earl of Shrewsbury.
Palace of Westminster
 via wikipedia 
Inside the House of Lords & the Central Lobby
The building that springs to mind for most people when recalling Pugin is the Palace of Westminster. Although the building as a whole was designed by Charles Barry, he relied entirely on Pugin for its Gothic interiors, wallpapers and furnishings, including the royal thrones and the Palace's clock tower in which Big Ben hangs. Pugin also designed the exteriors gothic embellishments. For over 100 years Pugin received no acknowledgement of his enormous contribution to the palace, and was paid a small fraction of the fee Barry received. The panelling in the House of Lords alone required 1000 drawings.
Some of his achievements over his short 18 year working life:-
Designed and built 17 churches in Ireland.
Several churches in Australia.
26 major houses in England, including Alton Towers - the family seat of the Talbots - The Earls of Shrewsbury.
19 Institutional buildings including Balliol College, Oxford and Downside Abbey.
50 major ecclesiastical designs including St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, London, and his most renown church, St. Giles', Cheadle, commissioned by the Earl of Shrewsbury.
Apart from all of this he designed furniture, silverware, brassware, tiles, stained glass windows, theatre sets, and jewellery. 
Some say Pugin died of overwork; during the last few months of his life he suffered something akin to a total nervous breakdown.
He was a large influence on John Ruskin, William Morris and George Gilbert Scott.
St. Giles Church, Cheadle, Staffs.
 via wikipedia
 Remembering that Pugin was only 40 years old when he died, he has left behind an amazing legacy for us all.

36 comments:

  1. An extraordinary man! Thank you for introducing him to me Rosemary. I had never heard of him before ( except from your last post of course)
    A short life but what a life indeed!

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    1. Dear Demie - I find it difficult to conceive of how one man could do so much in such a short life. He really was a remarkable and gifted human being.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. Beautiful post about a remarkable man.
    Bye,
    Marian

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    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed reading and learning a little about Pugin. He truly was a man of many talents.

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  3. Dear Rosemary,
    I am left speechless with this most fascinating and informative post.
    I do so love reading your posts.
    Having left England at the tender age of 8.. I really dont know much about English History. Living in a Colony Rhodesia at the time..we were taught about the wars and happenings of African History.
    I am dumbfounded at how this most youngest of men , had such foresight into architecture, advanced for his years. I can only imagine, that as a child with his father , he must have started to draw houses and designs. A true genious.
    What a shame that he was only recognised so many years later.
    Lord Shrewsbury was kind to him, possibly taking some of the credit!
    I now feel I must buy a book and read about him.
    (i think i wrote in my last comment that i thought his name very different thus being of French stock.)

    The design and detail he has put into his work is phenomenal.. incredible.
    Your chosen images of the churches are simply stunning.
    I love this post very much Rosemary.
    You inspire me to read more about our History.

    I do not Know England that very well. I have been to a few places and still have my sister who lives in Lancashire.. I visit very rarely now, since my children are all grown up. she comes to see me. but the years are counting!
    While in Australia.. it was Australian history and Ned Kelly and all that.
    Africa.. Kitchiner, Rhodes, Shaka Zulu, boer wars.

    Wishing you a wonderful happy Sunday.
    val

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    1. Dear Val - what a very kind and generous comment. You have made my day.
      Some posts, as you know, take a little longer to prepare. I wanted to try and give the essence of the man, but in a small blog post it can be difficult to achieve. If I have encouraged you to find out more about your own English history and in particular about Pugin, then I am very happy.
      Although you left your homeland at the tender age of 8 years, I can sense that their are still strong roots connecting you back here.
      As you say Pugin's work is incredible, not only for the amount he achieved but the enormous amount of detail he put into everything from the floor tiles to the elaborate silver chalices and candlesticks he designed.
      Thanks Val♥

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    2. He has truly captivated me Rosemary.
      I do belive that if we write a blog and belong to that persons blog list..its only correct to read it and comment. Otherwise what would be the reason.
      Its like dear Anna once wrote to a comment.. she is happy when she can see the people who read her blogs. And i must say I love them too.
      I will try to order a book about him from Amazon..He is a genious.

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    3. Dear Val - there are several books you can get on Pugin, but if you are interested in the man and his life perhaps God's Architect: Pugin and the Buildings of Romatic Britain by Rosemary Hill which is now out in paperback is one of the best. There are many books about Pugin, but a lot of them concentrate one thing i.e. his buildings, stained glass, silver, tiles etc.
      He was an amazing man. He suffered so much grief at such a very young age, and yet still went on to achieve great things.

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  4. Hello Rosemary:
    As always you provide us with a post which not only serves to expand our knowledge, in this case on Pugin [we had not previously registered thrice married!], but also one which is a visual delight. His output of work, for one whose life was so short, is, as you say, prodigious, and acts as a wonderful inheritance of the Victorian era and the C19 Gothic Revival.

    Years ago, by then living in Warwickshire, we knew the Scarisbricks whose one time houme, Scarisbrick Hall, is one of Pugin's rather splendid country houses. But we are sure that you know this.

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    1. Dear Jane and Lance - I am pleased the you enjoyed this post on Pugin. Even though I am fully aware of it, I am still always taken by surprise at his creative output and the immense detail that he put in to everything he accomplished.
      I have never seen Scarisbrick Hall in person, but I do know that it has a rather ecclesiastical appearance.

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  5. Dear Rosemary,

    My fondness for Gothic design is rivaled only by my love of Neoclassism. Thank you for a most inspiring posting about a remarkable designer. You've induced me to search for further reading on Pugin!

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    1. Dear Mark - Obviously in a short post it is only impossible to give a very brief prologue to Pugin. I am very happy that you wish to know more about him, he certainly was a man of many remarkable talents.

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  6. Hello Rosemary

    I believe your title of this post simply says it all
    "Pugin - God's own architect".
    A fascinating and interesting post and like, Val said I now feel I must find a book and read some more of his tremendous and beautiful work. How did he get through so many deaths, loss and hardship?

    A true genius.

    Thanks for this enlightening post

    Helen xx

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    1. Dear Helen - that is true, he experienced so much grief at such a young age, and yet managed to overcome his personal unhappiness to go on and achieve so much. Many in that situation would have just given up.
      I find the sheer quantity of things that he designed, and created truly astonishing.

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  7. Rosemary, what a beautiful celebration of Pugin's life and work. Your photographs are really beautiful: what a prolific talent!

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    1. Thanks Kate - I have picked out his two most notable buildings to show - the ones that are most likely to resonate with people.
      He was indeed a prolific talent, whose life was sadly cut short, and who indeed experienced much sadness during his 40 years.

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  8. A super post about one of my artistic heroes, Rosemary. I've been reading about Pugin for some years now and recently enjoyed the BBC4 programme on his life and work. I had always thought of him as predominantly a church architect, until I read a book on the Gothic Revival which concentrated on domestic buildings and opened my eyes to the wonderful houses he built, including his own. As always a thoroughly researched and beautifully illustrated post

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    1. Dear Perpetua - so pleased that Pugin is one of your artistic heroes too. I am hoping one day to visit his home in Ramsgate which was fully restored not so long ago. My sister-in-law lives nearby and I keep hoping they will invite us down so that we can see it, but no luck yet, may be she will see this and take the hint.
      This is just a snapshot of a life which achieved so much.
      Hope your journey returning the grandchildren went well for you.

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  9. As usual, it has been delightful to read, and learn, from your post Rosemary. The images you have chosen and the information you give are fascinating. I knew very little about Pugin, and am enthralled by this post. Thanks. J.

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    1. Thank you so much for your very kind comments Janice. It has been really gratifying to find that so many people have enjoyed finding out more about Pugin. His was such an extraordinary life, and one worthy of more acknowledgement.

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  10. Thank you Rosemary for such an interesting post. Although I grew up in England I had never heard of Pugin. Wonderful photos.

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    1. Dear Susan - glad you found it interesting, and I am pleased to have been able to introduce Pugin to you.

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  11. Seems Pugin was not only brilliant but prolific in his accomplishments. That's an amazing legacy for one short life.

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    1. Dear Karen - whenever I read about his different accomplishments I always find it difficult to understand how he achieved so much. Everything he did was not just a simple structure but highly complicated and detailed. An amazing young man.

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  12. A fascinating follow up to the last post, thanks.

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    1. Pleased that you enjoyed the follow up, I felt that they should sit together.

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  13. Dear Rosemary,
    Great and interesting post and wonderful photos.
    He must have been a genius.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Wish you a wonderful and sunny day.
    Mette

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    1. Dear Mette - believe or not but it has rained all day today, it did not even stop for lunch!!! You are right, I think he was a genius, and so pleased that you enjoyed the post.

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  14. Rosemary,
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and introducing yourself. I'm so excited to have found your blog, because I can tell I am going to be learning a lot by following along, all the while seeing some beautiful photography. Nice to make new friends in the blogging world. Debi

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    1. Dear Debi - I am pleased that we have become blogging friends too, and that you enjoyed what you saw here.
      I read a few of your posts and found them very interesting - you are living with a foot in two countries which offers an interesting perspective.

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  15. Wow! Amazing, indeed! What an accomplishment. I am not very educated in church / ecclesiastical architecture, and have not heard of Pugin (until your former post). Where have I been?? What a sad and tragic life, but one full of professional achievements. I wonder if he would have been as successful and brilliant if his personal life had been different. Thank you, Rosemary. I enjoyed learning about Pugin.
    Cheers,
    Loi

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    1. Dear Loi - I have wondered that to. Experiencing so much grief at such an early stage in life could possibly send you in one direction i.e a depressed decline or may be work too hard to try and forget what has happened.
      I am glad you enjoyed learning about Pugin.

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  16. I am impressed! He was a genius! I have never heard of him but now I definitely know more! Thank you Rosemary - very informatory! Christa

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    1. Glad you enjoyed finding out about him Christa, and you are right I think he was a genius♥

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  17. A nice place to go and visit.

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