Welcome to RIBApix!
You have no items in your basket.
Close
Filters
Search

Gothic Revival Style Guide

The Gothic Revival was a conscious movement that began in England to revive medieval Gothic forms, from the second half of the 18th century and throughout the 19th century. The 18th century examples were often domestic, with highly decorative interiors, seen at Strawberry Hill, making the style fashionable. By the early 1800s though, scholarship on medieval Gothic was growing, and a more archaeological approach emerges. This includes an increasing interest in preserving and restoring older buildings, with a need to understand the different styles of Gothic architecture. In 1817, the architect Thomas Rickman is one of the first to label the different styles of medieval architecture. He produces a chronology, entitled; ’An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of Architecture in England from the Norman Conquest to the Reformation’. In his account he divides the period into four parts; Norman style (1066-c.1190); Early English style (c.1190-c.1300): Decorated English (c.1300-c.1390): Perpendicular English (c.1390-c.1540).

These definitions were soon adopted and became the basic conceptual categories of the Gothic Revival for the rest of the 19th century.

But the key protagonist for the Gothic Revival by much of Victorian England was the architect, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852). After helping his father to survey and record medieval buildings he became convinced that Gothic architecture was not only superior aesthetically, but also morally to Classical architecture. In 1836 he published ‘Contrasts’, in which he compares different types of contemporary buildings with similar ones from the Middle Ages. For example, under ‘Contrasted Residences for the Poor’, a gracious medieval almshouse is contrasted with a contemporary prison. The book was a best seller, with many architects taking up the cause. The building of the Houses of Parliament cemented it as a national style, with many public buildings following suit and there was an ambitious programme of church building, including restoration. The revival lasted until the 1870s, when other historical revivals emerged.

What to look for in a Gothic Revival/Neo-Gothic building:

  • Pointed forms
  • irregular appearance
  • Variety of materials
  • Rich colours and decoration

Explore these galleries from the RIBA Collections illustrating the main features of Gothic Revival / Neo-Gothic Architecture

For further reading on the Gothic Revival below is a selection of books from the British Architectural Library on the subject:

  • Gothic revival architecture by Trevor Yorke. Library Reference: 72.036.4(42) // YOR
  • Gothic Revival worldwide: A. W. N. Pugin's global influence, edited by Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Jan de Maeyer, Martin Bressaini. Library Reference: 72.036.4 // GOT
  • Contrasts: and, The true principles of pointed or Christian architecture / A.W.N. Pugin; with introduction by Timothy Brittain-Catlin. Library Reference: 72.036.4 // PUG
  • George Frederick Bodley and the later Gothic Revival in Britain and America by Michael Hall. Library Reference: 72.036.4(42):92B // HAL
  • William Burges and the High Victorian dream by J. Mourdant Crook. Library Reference: 72.036.4(42):92B // CRO
  • The Gothic Revival by Chris Brooks. Library Reference: 72.036.4 // BRO
  • A.W.N. Pugin master of Gothic Revival by Megan Aldrich [et al.]. Library Reference: 72.036/4(42):92P // AWN
  • Pugin a Gothic passion, ed. Paul Atterbury and Clive Wainwright. Library Reference: 72.036.4(42):92P // PUG
  • The origins of the Gothic Revival, by Michael McCarthy. Library Reference: 72.034(42).8 // MAC

Style Guide written by Suzanne Waters

View as Grid List
Sort by

Competition design for the Crimea Memorial Church, Istanbul

RIBA20798
NOTES: This drawing is by an unidentified 19th century English architect. The competition for the Crimea Memorial Church in Istanbul was won by William Burges but his building was never executed.

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire: the Gothick Great Hall on the west front

RIBA26776
Miller, Sanderson (1716-1780)
NOTES: This abbey for Augustinian canonesses was founded in the early 13th century by Ela, Countess of Salisbury. It was dissolved in 1539 and sold to Sir William Sharrington who converted it into a family home. The Gothick Great Hall was built for John Ivory Talbot by Sanderson Miller in 1753-1755.

All Saints Church, Boyn Hill Road, Maidenhead

RIBA30318
Street, George Edmund (1824-1881)
NOTES: This photograph was taken between 1865 and 1885.

Hardwicke House and Baths, Abbey Road, Elmsdale, Great Malvern, Worcestershire

RIBA31366
NOTES: Hardwicke House was built by the physician James Loftus Marsden M.D. as a centre for those seeking the health benefits of Malvern's spring waters. It was equipped with the newest innovations in 'electro-chemical' and Turkish baths.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Shanghai: perspective of the entrance front

RIBA85300
Scott, Sir George Gilbert (1811-1878)
NOTES: Holy Trinity is the oldest Anglican cathedral in China. Known as the 'Red Church' from its brick construction it was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Its construction was supervised by William Kidner, from Scott's office, who modified the design during construction to reduce costs and seat more worshippers. Following many years of secular use, the church has undergone a major restoration and returned to its original use.

Designs for the Chapel of Saint Hugh, Bishop's Hostel, Lincoln: ground floor plan and perspectives

RIBA98449
Moore, Temple Lushington (1856-1920)
NOTES: It was perhaps these drawings which were exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 1908 (number 1680). What is certain from the label on the verso of the board is that this board with its plan and perspectives was exhibited at the Exhibition of British Architecture, Paris, May 1914, in the Modern Work Section.

Church of St Matthew, Meerbrook, Staffordshire: the altar frontal

RIBA102093
Shaw, Richard Norman (1831-1912)
NOTES: This was a rebuilding of an earlier church in two stages, 1868-1870 and 1872-1873.

Church of St Matthew, Meerbrook, Staffordshire

RIBA102096
Shaw, Richard Norman (1831-1912)
NOTES: This was a rebuilding of an earlier church in two stages, 1868-1870 and 1872-1873.

Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, London: the long gallery with fan vaulting

RIBA102807
Bentley, Richard (1708-1782)
NOTES: Horace Walpole purchased Strawberry Hill, a follly, in 1747 and spent until 1776 expanding and redecorating it to his own specifications. He was assisted by two friends, the amateur architect, John Chute, and the draughtsman, Richard Bentley. William Robinson of the Royal Office of Works oversaw the construction. The stained glass seen here is a mixture of English and Flemish glass.

Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, London

RIBA102809
Bentley, Richard (1708-1782)
NOTES: Horace Walpole purchased Strawberry Hill, a follly, in 1747 and spent until 1776 expanding and redecorating it to his own specifications. He was assisted by two friends, the amateur architect, John Chute, and the draughtsman, Richard Bentley. William Robinson of the Royal Office of Works oversaw the construction. The stained glass seen here is a mixture of English and Flemish glass.

All Saints Church, Hawkhurst, Kent

RIBA104036
Scott, Sir George Gilbert (1811-1878)

All Saints, Margaret Street, Fitzrovia, London

RIBA104904
Butterfield, William (1814-1900)

Roman Catholic Church of St Giles, Cheadle: the nave

RIBA105404
Pugin, Augustus Welby Northmore (1812-1852)

All Saints, Margaret Street, Fitzrovia, London

RIBA105405
Butterfield, William (1814-1900)

Shepton House, Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset: the drawing room fireplace

RIBA110148
Davis, Maurice
NOTES: This is the home of the ceramicist Richard Dennis. The fireplace is 17th century. See RIBA110156 for a colour version of this image.
Close
)
CLOSE