Gothic Revival Architecture


When Henry Langley began his apprenticeship in Toronto with the Scottish architect William Hay in the 1850s, the Gothic Revival style had become an important influence on architects in Great Britain, Europe and North America. The first appearances of the Gothic Revival style can be traced to the late 1700’s in England, when a movement to revive medieval forms in architecture and to a lesser extent in the decorative arts, came to the forefront of design. By the early Victorian era, Gothic Revival style was fully established through the efforts of architectural theorists such as the English architect Augustus W. N. Pugin and church leaders who argued that classical styles of architecture were pagan forms symbolizing a move towards the secular in society, and that Gothic style was a truer form of Christian architecture.

As Patricia McHugh notes in Toronto Architecture, A City Guide, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2nd Edition, 1989:

“In thrall to British tradition...Toronto was quick to embrace the picturesque style. English prototypes were closely followed for Gothic Revival churches. In fact actual prescriptions...(for design) were used. Three forms were revived: squat, high-steepled Early English, with masonry cladding and pointed single-light windows; complicated Decorated or Middle Pointed, featuring windows of curvilinear tracery; and attenuated Perpendicular marked by slender spires, elongated pinnacles and crenellations.”

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