The Victorians in Town and Country: Architecture, Design and Landscape
Course Date: Saturday 31st August to Saturday 7th August
Course Leaders: Thomas Faulkner BA, PhD and Richard Pears BA, PGDip
Early bookings received by 15th March: £715.00 per person
Bookings after 15th March: £750.00 per person
This is a new version of last year’s successful course, revised so as to appeal to both new and returning delegates. It creates a detailed picture of Victorian culture and society in North-East England and North Yorkshire by examining contrasting developments in both town and country. These included a remarkable growth in urbanisation and industrialisation, for example in Sunderland, noted for its shipbuilding industry, and in Newcastle upon Tyne, where chemical, engineering and again shipbuilding enterprises flourished. Interestingly, some of the region’s great industrialists were also major patrons of the arts, a good example being Sir William (Lord) Armstrong (1810-1900), whose legacy we investigate, both industrially and domestically. At the same time, the region’s existing coal mining industry developed apace, giving rise to the distinctive mining villages of County Durham and south-east Northumberland, with their compressed terraced streets known locally as ‘raws’. The North-East’s historic market towns also greatly expanded during this era and contain an array of typical and often new Victorian building types such as schools, libraries, railway stations, town halls and chapels.
The religious revival associated with the Victorian period was also very important in its impact upon architecture and the related arts, usually via the Gothic Revival. We therefore examine, although not exclusively, this rather neglected movement, visiting several splendid neo-Gothic churches and chapels. Meanwhile, Victorian culture as a whole will be thoroughly set in context through visits, and illustrated lectures, including one on ‘Victorian Architecture Abroad’, given both by the Course Leaders and visiting specialists. Overall, we seek to challenge the still widespread view that Victorian architecture and design is pretentious and in bad taste. Instead we argue that it can be majestic, magnificent, and eminently worthy of study.
As before, we utilise full- and half-day guided visits. However, because the region’s nineteenth-century resources are so rich, on this revised course we are able to visit sites that are substantially different even from those studied on last year’s ‘Victorian’ Summer Study programme. Thus there will now be a greater emphasis on public buildings, the industrial heritage and collegiate architecture.
We will look at the Victorian aspects of towns and cities such as Durham itself and also Sunderland, which has a surprisingly rich Victorian heritage and where for the first time we have a whole day visit, ending up at the celebrated Arts and Crafts Church of St Andrew, Roker. We also of course visit Newcastle and Gateshead, here examining some hitherto unexplored examples of local Victorian architecture.
In addition we will be exploring rural Northumberland, Co. Durham and North Yorkshire. These areas have a wealth of castles, country houses, landscapes, historic and ‘model’ villages, and churches. A valuable item in this part of the programme is a visit to the award-winning open-air museum at Beamish, with its recreated Victorian town. Also visited will be the Bowes Museum, near Barnard Castle, built by a wealthy coal-owner for the use of himself and his French female companion, especially to house their substantial art collection.
Castle and country house visits include several to examples not previously covered on this course, as well as to Lord Armstrong’s rural retreat at Cragside, designed for him by Norman Shaw, one of the greatest of Victorian architects. This has a romantic setting, elaborate interiors and a landscaped, ‘gardenesque’ estate. Nor do we ignore Lord Armstrong’s other great Northumbrian residence, the restored Bamburgh Castle, with its spectacular seaside setting.
We also view local North-Eastern buildings by such celebrated Gothic Revivalists as A.W.N. Pugin, famed for his work at London’s Houses of Parliament and Great Exhibition of 1851, William Burges and William Butterfield, and also some by the excellent if little known Newcastle architects A.M. Dunn, W.S. Hicks, R.J. Johnson and F.W. Rich.
Thomas Faulkner is an architectural historian and former Senior Lecturer at the University of Northumbria. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University, where he also teaches in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape; he has written and lectured extensively on many aspects of the history, architecture and landscape of North-East England.
Richard Pears is a librarian at Durham University and has recently completed his PhD in the School of Historical Studies at Newcastle University on the Newcastle architect William Newton (1730-1798) and the origins of classical architecture in North East England. He is a Vice President of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne. He has published articles on country houses in the North East and lectures on architectural history to groups and societies.