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High Victorian Gothic and the Architecture of Normandy

Gavin Stamp
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Vol. 62, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 194-211
DOI: 10.2307/3592477
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3592477
Page Count: 18
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High Victorian Gothic and the Architecture of Normandy
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Abstract

High Victorian Gothic in England was an exotic style, and the importance of Italian Gothic precedents in its development has long been recognized, as has the interest in thirteenth-century French Gothic in the 1850s. What has received much less attention is the influence of the medieval buildings of Normandy. In this article, I examine the historical and cultural connections between England and Normandy, which were stimulated by the Napoleonic Wars and the threat of invasion, and were further encouraged by the ease of crossing the English Channel. Seeking the origins of English Gothic and Romanesque architecture, antiquaries and artists explored Normandy in the decades after Waterloo, anticipating the interest of architects. Whether the results of travel or study of a growing number of publications on the medieval architecture of Normandy, numerous midcentury buildings show intimate acquaintance with thirteenth-century churches in Normandy-old village churches with saddleback towers or distinctive spires, which, paradoxically, resemble High Victorian designs in their rugged austerity.

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