Street, George Edmund

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Street, George Edmund (1824–81). English Gothic Revival architect. A pupil (1841–4) of Owen Browne Carter (1806–59), of Winchester, Hants., he later worked in ‘Great’ Scott's office in the 1840s with Bodley and William White. His first buildings included churches in Cornwall (e.g. St Mary's, Par (1847) ) and a vicarage in Wantage, Berks. (1847–50). Almost from the beginning his work was robust, assured, and satisfying, and he played an important role in the evolution of muscular Gothic, turning back to a primitive First Pointed style derived from exemplars in Burgundy, not uninfluenced by Viollet-le-Duc. In 1849 he established his own office and became Architect to the Diocese of Oxford (1852), where he designed some of his best work (the Theological College, Cuddesdon (1852–75), Sts Simon and Jude, Milton-under-Wychwood (from 1854), St Mary, Wheatley (1855–68), St Peter, Filkins (1855–7), all in Oxon., and Sts Philip and James, Oxford (1858–66). In the last building the Gothic Revival moved emphatically away from English roots to early French exemplars. He was assisted for a brief period by William Morris (1855–6) and Philip Webb (1852–9), and, having built up a national reputation, moved his practice to London in 1856.

Street made several journeys to the Continent, publishing some of his observations on medieval architecture in The Ecclesiologist (1850–3), and bringing out his important and influential Brick and Marble Architecture in the Middle Ages: Notes on Tours in the North of Italy (1855 and 1874) which argued for a rational approach to design, and drew attention to the wide range of Continental precedent available to architects. His best works thereafter included All Saints', Boyne Hill, Maidenhead, Berks. (1854–65), St Peter's, Bournemouth, Hants. (now Dorset) (1854–79), St James-the-Less, Westminster (1859–61—with a powerful brick polychrome interior and plate-tracery), St John the Evangelist, Torquay, Devon (1861–5—First Pointed), St Mary Magdalene, Paddington, London (1867–73—again First Pointed, with structural polychromy in the tower), the Crimean Memorial Church, Istanbul, Turkey (1863–8), St Paul's, Rome (1872–6—First Pointed Italian Gothic), and All Saints', also in Rome (1880–1937—completed by Arthur Edmund Street (1855–1938) ). Both Roman churches employed the striped effects Street admired in his Brick and Marble. If Sts Philip and James, Oxford, had demonstrated Street's interest in French First Pointed Gothic of the Burgundian type, his magisterial and cleverly planned Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London (1866–81), was an accomplished synthesis of Burgundian French, English, and Italian Gothic, one of the last great monuments of the Gothic Revival containing the grandest secular room of the style, the Great Hall. Interventions were sometimes draconian (e.g. Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (1871–8—which he completely transformed) ), sometimes highly creative and scholarly (e.g. Bristol Cathedral (1867–88—where he built a new nave and the two western towers) ), and sometimes more self-effacing (e.g. Carlisle Cathedral) ). He also carried out major works at Kildare Cathedral, and was involved at York Minster.

His many publications include not only Brick and Marble referred to above, but an important essay on the ‘proper characteristics’ of a town church (1850—which set the scene for those ‘citadels of faith’ by Brooks and others), a paper in the Ecclesiologist on the true principles of architecture and its development (1852), An Urgent Plea for the Revival of True Principles of Architecture in the Public Buildings of the University of Oxford (1853), an essay (in The Ecclesiologist) on the revival of the ‘Ancient Style of Domestic Architecture’ (1853—which was a milestone in the vernacular and Domestic Revivals), and Some Account of Gothic Architecture in Spain (1865).


AH, xxiii (1980), 86–94;
D. B. Brownlee (1984);
B. Clarke (1966, 1969);
J. Curl (2002b);
Ecclesiologist, xi (1850), 227–33, xiii (1852), 247–62, and xiv (1853), 70–80;
E&P (1998);
Martley & Urbin (eds.) (1867);
Meeks (1966);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
RIBA Journal (Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects), ser. 3, lxxvii/1 (Jan. 1970), 11–18;
Stalley (2000);
A. Street (1972);
G. Street (1855, 1867, 1874, 1969);
Summerson (1970)
Jane Turner (1996)

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George Edmund Street

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