A Gothic Revival Tour of London
Experience the capital through one of its most distinct architectural styles, Gothic Revival.
Gothic Revival architecture represents a pertinent moment in London’s history. As is often the case with most architecture, it has distinct political overtones, perhaps moreso than any other architectural style in London. The Gothic Revival style (also known as ‘Neo Gothic’), defined by its homage to medieval architecture, prominently featured pointed arches, elaborate tracery, ribbed vaults, and saw the height of its popularity in the early to mid-19th century. This style was a reaction to the rise of industrialisation and sought to return to a simpler, purer time before machines when man was more in touch with nature. Thus, its inspiration was the chivalrous realm of the Gothic during the medieval era that occurred over 5 centuries earlier. This also had substantial political connotations: that of a romanticism and support of the monarchy and conservatism, in contrast to its major opponents, republicanism and liberalism. It so happened that the era which saw the rise of the Gothic Revival style was also the era of substantial re-construction concerning government buildings. Thus, the most famous of London Gothic Revival buildings, the Houses of Parliament, is a defiantly pro-monarchy, conservative building. Aside from government buildings, the organic motifs of the Gothic Revival were applied to museums, railway stations, private mansions, churches, and libraries, thus spreading the visual appeal of the Anglo-Catholic Church who considered this style a form of advertisement for its ideology (it is easy to forget how recently the Catholic/Protestant divide held sway over the British populace). Gothic architecture.
Unfortunately there are very few original surviving Gothic buildings in London (Westminster Abbey being the only major one), however there is a wealth of Gothic Revival architecture. Usually housing visitor-friendly attractions. A tour of London themed around this pivotal architectural style is a more aesthetic approach to enjoying the capital. Such gothic style. Very Gothic Victorian.
The Natural History Museum
One of the largest, most famous and most beautiful of the major London Museums, it is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. The museum is a world-renowned centre of research specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture—sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature—both exemplified by the large Diplodocus cast which dominates the vaulted central hall. Gothic style is defined by gothic cathedrals.
Cromwell Rd, London SW7 5BD
The Maughan Library is the main research library of King’s College London. Previously home to the headquarters of the Public Record Office, known as the “strong-box of the Empire”, the building was acquired by the university in 2001. Following a £35million renovation the Maughan is the largest new university library in the UK since World War 1. Harry Potter fans will find the building more than worth a visit as the round room was used as Dumbledore’s office in the films.
100-113 Chancery Ln, London WC2A 1PL
St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel
The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel forms the frontispiece of St. Pancras railway station. Designed by Geroge Gilbert Scott and opened in 1873, and for most of the 20th century it was used as railway offices. Its clock tower stands at 82m tall, making the hotel possibly the tallest building in Europe at the time with more than half its height usable. Today, the Gilbert Scott bar and restaurant calls a lucky chunk of the building home. With an Anglo-Italian menu, the charming restaurant has a delightfully imposing setting, with high Gothic arches towering above diners.
Euston Rd, London NW1 2AR
Strawberry Hill House
Strawberry Hill House, often called simply Strawberry Hill, was built in Twickenham by Horace Walpole from 1749. Technically, it is the premier example of the “Strawberry Hill Gothic” style of architecture that marginally prefigured the nineteenth-century Gothic revival, and was far less common. After the initial construction, Walpole rebuilt the existing house in stages starting in 1749, 1760, 1772 and 1776. These added gothic features such as towers and battlements outside and elaborate decoration inside to create “gloomth” to suit Walpole’s collection of antiquarian objects, contrasting with the more cheerful garden. Today Strawberry Hill House is open to the public and modern visitors can enjoy the famous ‘shell bench’ in the garden, as well as marvel at this unusual architectural hybrid.
268 Waldegrave Rd, Twickenham TW1 4ST