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The Impact Of Gothic Revival Architecture History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Term Gothic is used to describe a style of European Architecture which began in France in the late twelfth century. It dominated building design in Europe until the sixteenth. The wealth and power of the church at that time provided the money and the inspiration to build great churches and these are most common, though not the only, kind of Gothic building which also includes civic buildings, university buildings, hospitals and town houses.

The Gothic style uses certain architectural design patterns to enable the creation of soaring spaces lit by numerous large windows. Romanesque architecture before the Gothic age had used thick walls to bear the structural load of a building. An important characteristic of Gothic building was to treat only narrow portions of the walls as load-bearers, enabling the rest of the wall to be punctured by windows. Buttresses (Fig.1) were also widely used, further reducing the need for thick walls and allowing spaces of great height to be achieved. Windows were normally pointed which enabled them to be larger and higher than curved-arch windows, thus giving more light and, with the use of stained glass, colour to the interior (Fig.2). The major characteristic of a Gothic church is its height, both real and proportional and the main body of a Gothic church will most often show the main central part of the church(called the nave(Fig.3)), as considerably taller than it is wide. It is important to note that in addition to providing a greater flexibility to architectural form that the pointed arch also directed one’s gaze to heaven.

Religion was the major driving force for the masons and carvers who created these great buildings they ‘exercised their talents in the service of God ‘. Great example of Gothic feature is The South Rose Window installed in 1260 at the Notre-Dame Cathedral which was laid in 1163 in Paris, France. Its transept depict “Triumph of

Christ” surrounded by apostles, martyrs, the wise and foolish virgins and the story of Matthew from 12th century. It was designed by Jean de Chelles, and is dedicated to New Testament. The South Rose Window which is the largest one reached 12.90 metres in diameter and, if you include its bay, a total height of nearly 19 metres. This window has been damaged several times. It is complete replica of the original. (Fig.4). This south rose window is dominated by strong hues of purple and the jambs have a definite vertical and horizontal thrust.

Cathedrals, abbeys and churches made the style popular and its main features which include the pointed arch (Fig.5), the ribbed vault (Fig.6) are also evident in many palaces, castles and universities, with the style seeing something of a revival during the 18th-19th centuries when many more structures in the above categories were built in the Gothic style.

The Gothic revival was a reaction to the classical revival and has had significant influence as well as on the continent of Europe, in Australia and the Americas. Re-awakening was led by John Ruskin and Augustus Pugin. This continued throughout the 19th century gradually replacing classical styles which were then prevalent. Both of these men who put forward the idea of the gothic revival saw the movement not simply in structural terms, but also in religious and spiritual terms. Those who supported the Gothic Revival held the view that religions had produced their own supreme architectural that best expressed their ethos and spirit.

They believed that Renaissance architecture was pagan because it sought its influences from the heathen temples of Rome. Only Gothic architecture was accepted to represent the Christian Faith by Ruskin and Pugin.

Ruskin, Pugin, and the others who backed the revival of the Gothic style were revolting against the mechanization of the industrial revolution. The ideas they had ultimately led to the Arts and Crafts movement with its roots firmly in the Gothic style. The greatest example of authentic Gothic Revival is the Palace of Westminster (The Houses of Parliament) which was rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry and A.W. Pugin.

In 1836-37, he wrote The Poetry of Architecture, serialised in Loudon’s Architectural Magazine. This was a study of cottages, villas, and other dwellings which centred around a Wordsworthian argument that buildings should be sympathetic to local environments, and should use local materials. For Ruskin, Gothic was the architecture of free craftsmen, he was against classical architecture because of its aim for perfection and for its demands upon the men who were required, as slaves to build it. Their work being a natural and noble activity where the result might not have a perfect machine finish but it was an honest creation. This notion of natural and honest imperfection was called ‘Savageness’ and was very influential in the Arts and Crafts movement. Ruskin believed also that rather than follow rigid style human should dictate how buildings were designed and craftsmen should be free to adapt and to change. This principal of ‘Changefulness’ was also an important influence on Arts and Crafts thinking.

“Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was the most influential English ecclesiastical architect of his day and the principal theoretician of the Gothic revival”

Pugin God’s Architect (1812-1852) Born in London, propagandist, and Gothic designer, A. W. N. Pugin father of of E. W. Pugin and Peter Paul Pugin, and early assistant to, Augustus Charles Pugin the producer of pattern books of Gothic building, such as Examples of Gothic Architecture (1831). His vision was not only applied on one field of design. From Pugin’s architectural practice who led him to produce stained glass, metalwork, textiles and jewellery. . After his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1835 Pugin’s propaganda campaign began with the publication, of his intemperate Contrasts (1836) Pugin gave it architectural expression through comparison medieval with modern, classically inspired buildings of contrast between the unity and goodness of the middle Ages. He argued that since gothic was an expression of a Roman Catholic society, only such a society could produce true gothic and he continued that in Pugin’s The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841) explained the Gothic as a rational he announced there the “two great rules for design

defined the real nature of Gothic that there should be no features about a building which are not necessary for propriety, construction or convenience. Second rule that all ornaments should consist of enrichment of the essential construction of the building. Buildings Designed by AWN Pugin in the South-east of Ireland include; St Aidan’s Cathedral (pic.), Enniscorthy; St Peter’s College, Wexford; St Michael the Archangel, Gorey and the Parish churches of Tagoat and Barntown, all in County Wexford

Charleville Forest Castle (pic8) is considered as a one of the finest Gothic Revival buildings. It was built in 1798 by Charles William Bury and is Located in County Offaly, in the Midlands of Ireland. Charleville Castle grew from paper doodles in early 1798, and was designed by Francis Johnston and he was one of the leading architects of the day. The construction of the castle took fourteen years. In main rooms of this Castle you can see spectacular ceilings (pic9), Great Stairs, the Great Room the Morning Room, the Red Room, the Library, and other rooms now open to visitors which can see also gardens around the grounds. Rooms feature original architecture, impressive stucco and plaster work, stained glass windows, hand turned woodwork and more. Within the dining room, the ceiling owes its look to the talented William Morris, who stencilled it in the late 1860’s. Charleville Castle can be described as a quite compact building (unlike many gothic rambling castles built by the Victorians) with castellations and towers. There is also small Gothic Chapel in the main part.  In 1971, Michael McMullen came into possession of the castle and began restoration works, now the Castle is owned by American Bridget Vance. It is known for generations as one of the world’s most haunted Castles and which was abandoned in 1912 and through the War for Independence. Legends say the castle was built on the site of an ancient druid burial ground.


From my research, Gothic architecture of the past and Gothic Revival of Irish Architecture, are inter-linked and yet distinctive. Architecture has always been about design and enhancing the beauty, shape and style of the buildings around us. Even as far back as the twelfth century the Gothic movement was aimed at enhancing buildings egg. Churches which were possibly the most important types of Gothic revival architecture in Ireland. This was achieved by using large stained glass windows which were fascinating in their ability to carry a story of Religious significance. The Gothic era of that time insured that these windows were to be made bigger which in turn would have made more inviting to not on locals but to visitors to the area as well. On a local level it would be very hard not to refer to………….

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