Ecclesiology & Empire: Victorian Church Design Outside the British Isles 1830-1910

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


The rise of the Gothic Revival in Britain during the mid-nineteenth century coincided with Britain’s emergence as the world’s leading economic, industrial, and imperial power. The territorial expansion of Britain during this period led to the migration (forced and voluntary) of British peoples and culture across the globe, whether as convicts, free settlers, merchants, soldiers, or colonial administrators. An important aspect of this phenomenon was the increasing emphasis placed on religion and the Christian character of society. Church missionary organizations—whether Anglican, Catholic, or Nonconformist—were most active during the Victorian period, proselytizing colonials and indigenes alike on a scale not seen before or since. Anglicans and Catholics, in particular, placed great importance on the erection of ‘correct’ church buildings in aid of this mission. Their concern for architecture was influenced heavily by the newly-developed principles of ‘ecclesiology’ stemming from the theories of AWN Pugin and the publications of the two university architectural societies in Britain. As clergymen and their architects spread throughout the British Empire, they took these ideas with them, erecting unprecedented numbers of churches and cathedrals that both reshaped and reformed the landscapes and societies in which they were located. The symposium brings together several of the world’s leading experts on the rise of ecclesiology in the former British Empire (and beyond). The papers will explore the different ways in which Christian architecture was studied and advanced outside the British Isles as architects and clergymen were forced to adapt to unfamiliar and testing environments (climate, culture, materials). As a whole, the papers will provide an engaging account of how architectural ideas and practices were carried and implemented abroad during a significant period in the history of British architecture, thus situating the development of the Gothic Revival in a wider global perspective.
Period6 Nov 2010
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map