In a challenging but little-studied article published in Architectura in 1985, David B. Brownlee argued that the religious concept of the development of doctrine influenced the belief of architects in the Anglican Church in the 1840s that they should attempt to "develop" architecture in a radical new direction. The result was the style we now call "High Victorian." This article takes up Professor Brownlee's argument in two ways. First, it looks at how architects in the 1850s sought to create a progressive style by drawing on ideas and images from contemporary science, specifically geology, for which development was also a key word. Second, it addresses the question of why the idea of development fell so suddenly from favor in avant-garde architectural circles in the 1860s. It argues that as science and religion withdrew into their separate spheres, architects turned instead to an ideal based not on historical development but on the imitation of a stylistic paradigm. This approach was influenced by High Church belief that the sacraments, most importantly the Eucharist, were the material realization of a timeless supernatural reality. Changing attitudes to time and precedent had important consequences for the way architects viewed restoration, archaeology, and the use of historical models.
What Do Victorian Churches Mean? Symbolism and Sacramentalism in Anglican Church Architecture, 1850-1870
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Michael Hall; What Do Victorian Churches Mean? Symbolism and Sacramentalism in Anglican Church Architecture, 1850-1870. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 March 2000; 59 (1): 78–95. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/991563
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