* Introduction to St Chad’s and Pugin, built 1837-41.
* Convert to Catholicism in 1835
* 1829 catholic emancipation act allow the building of catholic churches
* Description of building and architectural design and its significance * Brick work vs. stone, roof, windows, additions of statues, crypt designed in neo – Norman fashion
* Internal decoration and layout and its significance
* Rood screen, function, issues with its installation and removal in 1967 in a re-ordering
* Summary of Pugins idea of tradition and why it can be considered dissent. * Discuss “contrasts” and its intention to highlight gothic architecture as tradition which had declined since reformation. * Gothic architecture as the national style.
* Classical style developed from ancient Greece and Rome. Alien to northern Europe.
How were Pugin’s ideas on tradition expressed in the art and architecture of St Chad’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham? In what ways might these ideas be seen as dissenting?
St Chad’s Cathedral was designed by Pugin and was completed during 1837 – 41. St Chad’s was the first Roman Catholic Church to be constructed in England following the reformation, a feat which was accomplished following The Roman Catholic Emancipation act of 1829. Pugin had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1835 and had published a number of works including his book “Contrast” to promote his preference for architecture in the Gothic style. Pugin worked as the assistant to Charles Barry on the palace of Westminster and is known to have designed the clock tower which holds ‘Big Ben’. For Pugin architecture represented much more than the building or style in which it is constructed, it was to tell the story of the society for which it is built and provide a glimpse in to the moral fabric of that society.
The first striking thing you will notice is that the building is made up mainly of red brick instead of the more traditional stone; stone is used sparingly around the dressings of the building. The front of the building consists of two soaring towers complete with pointed spires which flank a central portion containing the main entrance to the church. The doorway has two pointed entrances which are set in a stone archway the doors are supported on hugely elaborate hinges, similar designs can be viewed in his book “The True Principles of Pointed Christian Architecture”. Above the archway lies a very detailed and elaborately decorated tracery window. The front of the building also contains stone figures which are sharply contrasted against the red brick creating a broken affect when viewed as a whole. The roof of the Church is created in slate and sweeps continuously across the length of the church broken only by the hips.
The interior of St Chad’s is where Pugin wanted to concentrate the majority of his resources. He said the building was “plain outside and glorious inside” (St Chad’s and Religious Art,2008, transcript p. 8) Pugin elaboratly painted the interior of the building in bold colour as he believed that a church should contain as much ornate sculpture as possible, due to the low budget he could not accomplish this here and so the detail in the paiting on the walls and columns and the eloborate tiling on the floor was introduced as a form of compensation. The interior of the church is dominated by the pointed arch which stretches up to 75 feet in hight. The columns which devide the nave from the eisle are thin which minimises the destinction between the two area of the church creating the feel of a large hall. Pugin insited in the installation of a rude screen which was placed between the nave and the alter, During the building he had threatened to quit the project over the installation of this screen. The screen was later removed in 1967 following a re-ordering allowing an unbroken view from...
Bibliography: RICHARDSON, Carol. 2008. Figure 4.1 opening page from Pugin A.W.N (1841) The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture. In: Reproduced in Tradition and Dissent , Milton Keynes: The Open University, p.129.
RICHARDSON, Carol. 2008. Pugin and the revival of the gothic tradition. In: Tradition and Dissent, Milton Keynes: The Open University, pp.109-146.
St Chad 's and Religious Art. Open University, 2008. [DVD ROM].
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