The Gothic revival period in the 18th and 19th centuries recreated a style of architecture that had been around in various different forms between 1150 and 1550. There are lots of Gothic inspired buildings still around today all over Europe and it is one of the easiest styles to spot with pointy rooftops and lots of fancy details. Let’s find out more!
In the 18th Century life was changing very quickly, and lots of people liked to look back on how things used to be. It became fashionable to try and recreate the old gothic style from several hundred years before. That’s why it is called a Revival because it was reviving something old.
So what is gothic style? Well, arches were very popular and attention to detail was important, even down to the wallpaper! Bright red and gold designs were popular, often heavily patterned with coats of arms or flowers and foliage.
Fun Facts about Gothic Revival
- Lighting – it was common to copy the candlelight effect of the authentic middle ages. Huge metalwork chandeliers in black wrought iron would hang from the ceilings. You wouldn’t want one of those falling on your dinner – or your head!
- Fifeplaces – big, imposing fireplaces were popular in gothic style houses. These were made of limestone or carved out of wood. It was important the fireplace looked especially good because as there wasn’t yet central heating, people liked to be close to the fire to keep warm!
- Furniture – Gothic style furniture wasn’t just for practical use, it had to look great too. Even tables and chairs had sculptures and paintings built into them – nothing was simple! If some of your furniture at home has those funny twisted legs that are like spirals, maybe it’s gothic inspired!
Let’s go looking for Gothic style buildings!
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- St Pancras station is a great example of a Gothic building
- Middle Temple Hall in Holborn is late gothic in style, with an intricately carved screen, stained glass windows and even a minstrel’s gallery where musicians used to play to entertain guests such as Elizabeth the 1st and Sir Francis Drake
- The Palace of Westminster, where our politicians meet to run the country, is one of the most famous buildings in the world, but I bet you didn’t know it is gothic in style! The man who designed it was the winner of a national competition, a bit like an X-Factor for architects!
- But you don’t have to go to Westminster to see gothic design. Lots of small parish churches up and down the country date from the medieval gothic period. Look out for fancy designs by the windows and lots of stone carvings and paintings on the walls.
Key features of gathic architecture
- Masonry construction
- Patterned bricks and multi-coloured stone
- Stone carvings of leaves, birds, and gargoyles
- Strong vertical lines and a sense of great height
- Realistic recreation of authentic medieval styles
Image by Colin under Creative Commons licence