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Dissertation abstracts

A Gothic Vision: the Architectural Patronage of Bishop James Goold in Colonial Victoria

PhD Thesis in Art History, under the supervision of Professor Jaynie Anderson and Professor Philip Goad, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, October 2020.
Paola Colleoni

Entrées d’index

Index de mots-clés :

architecture religieuse

Index by keyword:

religious architecture

Indice de palabras clave:

arquitectura religiosa

Schlagwortindex:

Religiöse Architektur

Parole chiave:

architettura religiosa

Index géographique :

Océanie, Australie, Melbourne, État de Victoria

Index chronologique :

XIXe siècle

Personnes citées :

Goold James Alipius (1812-1886)
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Texte intégral

  • 1 Advocate, 28 November 1868, p. 8.

1Twenty years after the creation of the Roman Catholic diocese of Melbourne, which encompassed the whole of modern-day Victoria, a local reporter claimed: “There is no place where it is harder to believe Melbourne but twenty-five years old than in St. Patrick’s Church. The scene presented there on Wednesday made one feel as if suddenly transported to where antique cathedral towers are flinging their long shadows on the winding Rhine”1 (fig. 1). St Patrick’s, which was one of the largest Gothic Revival cathedrals commenced and completed anywhere in the twentieth century, stemmed from the ambition of the first bishop of Melbourne, James Alipius Goold (1812-1886), and realised by the vision of the English-born architect William Wilkinson Wardell (1823-1899). Set in the background of the Gothic Revival movement worldwide, A Gothic Vision: the Architectural Patronage of Bishop James Goold in Colonial Victoria examines St Patrick’s and other Gothic Revival churches built by Roman Catholics in the colony of Victoria between 1848 and 1870, focusing on the work of William Wardell.

Figure 1: Charles Nettleton, St Patrick's Cathedral under construction, 1866, photograph, 16.6 x 37 cm.

Figure 1: Charles Nettleton, St Patrick's           Cathedral under construction, 1866, photograph, 16.6 x 37 cm.

Source: Melbourne (Australia), State Library Victoria.

  • 2 Alex Bremner, Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the Bri (...)

2Bluestone Gothic Revival churches can be found dominating the landscape of most city suburbs and towns of Victoria. The foundation of Melbourne in 1835 predated by only one year the publication of Contrasts, or A Parallel between the Noble Edifices of the Middle Ages and Corresponding Buildings of the Present Day shewing the present decay of taste, the powerful, polemical book by the English Catholic convert Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. With this and other writings, Pugin revolutionised the attitude towards the use of the Gothic style in architecture and in the applied arts, fortifying Gothic with strict and comprehensive rational principles. These would influence a whole generation of architects in a moment where the growing influence of European culture through colonial expansion translated into a new wave of church building. Moreover, Pugin proposed an equivalence between Gothic and Christian, believing the restoration of Gothic architecture would indeed rekindle Catholicism. However, the ethical dimension imbued within the question of style was primarily embraced by the Church of England.2 Catholic authorities had a mixed reception of Pugin’s theories: on the one hand congregations had limited resources to create their buildings; on the other hand, the ultramontane views expressed by influential figures such as John Henry Newman cast doubt on Gothic Revival’s superiority as a style of Christian architecture. Australia presented a peculiar case: in its heyday, driven by associationism and fashion, the Australian Roman Catholic hierarchy used Gothic forms to shape its architecture. Furthermore, thanks to religious freedom and state aid towards church building, several architectural designs by renowned English architects, including Pugin, were realised at the Antipodes despite the limited resources and dearth of trained architects.

  • 3 Jaynie Anderson, Shane Carmody and Max Vodola (eds.), The Invention of Melbourne: A Baroqu (...)

3The focus of the present research is limited to the colony of Victoria, where James Alipius Goold, the first Roman Catholic bishop, championed the use of archaeologically correct Gothic Revival architecture. Goold was born in Ireland and educated in Italy. He volunteered for the Australian mission and ten years later was elected to the bishopric in Melbourne. Within a few years, he found himself in extraordinary circumstances: the Victorian gold rush triggered a population boom unprecedented in the history of any British colony, and the material wealth of the population afforded the creation of an astounding number of stone churches. Irish Catholics had arrived in great numbers thanks to assisted and bounty immigration, and new church buildings were needed to provide for dramatically increasing congregations (fig. 2). The bishop established a firm administration, and oversaw all aspects of church building. In a colonial setting with minimal infrastructures, architecture had a critical role, and the bishop autocratically oversaw the construction of every church of his diocese. Copies of Pugin’s publications survive in Goold’s library, and thanks to surviving correspondence and original architectural drawings, newspapers reports, written memoirs, and photographic records, this thesis retraces the steps taken by the bishop to realise Gothic Revival churches true to Pugin’s principles. The analysis of these churches also includes artefacts of the decorative arts and crafts, an essential element of the Gothic Revival movement. As the mediaeval liturgical arrangement furthered the magnificence of solemn practices, thus the church interiors are essential components of this research. The embracing nature of the Gothic Revival movement is manifested in the furnishings, stained-glass, and metalworks procured by renowned workshops in Australia and Europe. The study also highlights some aesthetic inconsistencies in Goold’s patronage, however, especially in his purchasing of copies of Baroque paintings. This emphasises how the bishop was interested in translating not only mediaeval tradition, but a wider European culture to colonial Victoria.3

Figure 2: Unknown artist, St Mary's Church, East St Kilda, 1870s, 18 x 25 cm, photograph.

Figure 2: Unknown artist, St Mary's           Church, East St Kilda, 1870s, 18 x 25 cm, photograph.

Source: Melbourne (Australia), Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission.

  • 4 Brian Andrews, Australian Gothic: the Gothic revival in Australian architecture from the 1 (...)
  • 5 Joan Kerr, Designing a Colonial Church: Church building in New South Wales 1788-18 (...)

4Brian Andrews remarks that with regard to church architecture, Australian patrons remained conservative instead of embracing the fast evolving High Victorian Gothic that was taking over in other areas of the British empire.4 Following in the same line of thought, the present study argues that the astringent medievalism of the archaeological phase of the Gothic Revival evident in the Catholic churches realised in Victoria between the 1850s and 1870s served the purpose of presenting an overarching architectural homogeneity fundamental to marking the identity of the Roman Catholic settler population. A few structures displayed the influence of French Gothic, especially the liturgical east end of St Patrick’s Cathedral. The inclusion of continental elements and planning was a peculiarity that had distinguished the Catholic Church in Australia since the erection of its very first structure, St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.5 The churches built under Goold’s patronage had a distinguished character and imposing dimensions, emphasised by their prominent location on an elevated ground selected personally by the bishop. The strength and solidity that emanated from the axe-cut bluestone used for the buildings had a special symbolic value for those Catholics who in their motherland had undergone years of discrimination for their religious beliefs. These Gothic Revival churches served the purposes of propagating ideals of beauty, integrity and truthfulness. While the Gothic lines reminded expatriate settlers of the British Isles’ landscapes, the use of local bluestone created a strong connection with the new land. Inside, furnishings, fittings and decorations recalling the spirit of the Middle Ages combined with the Baroque display of religiousness portrayed in the paintings acquired by the bishop, added to feelings of sacredness thanks to a dramatic and emotional appeal. Without an established church in the colonial setting of Australia, the realisation of these churches served to claim the moral high ground professed by Pugin, to display the ancient cultural tradition of the Roman Catholic Church and to establish its prominent position in the colony of Victoria.

5The first two chapters of the thesis present an account of Goold’s life that highlights how his taste was formed in widely different environments. Chapter I starts from his education in Italy to provide a sense of the man, eventually positioning him within the wider networks of colonial society and catholic missionary bishops. Goold’s biography unwinds parallel to that of William Wardell, who trained as an architect when Pugin’s theorisation of the Gothic Revival was reaching its apex. The discussion of the evolution of Wardell’s practice in England allows the possibility to highlight some of the stylistic features that remained favoured in his Australian churches. Chapter II deals with the evolution of Gothic taste in the colony of New South Wales where Goold encountered the Gothic Revival church-building programme of Archbishop Polding. The several projects realised over a decade demonstrate the rapid assimilation of Gothic Revival principles in the Australian environment.

6Moving from N.S.W. to the Port Phillip district of Victoria, Chapter III discusses the bishop’s ambitions before and after the discovery of gold and the large influx of migrants that transformed Melbourne from a colonial outpost into a major settlement. The chapter shows how Goold’s patronage was influenced by national and European networks, it describes the commission of English architects and illustrates how every aspect of church building was managed by a centralised administration. The genesis of St Patrick’s cathedral is presented in Chapter IV. From the purchase of the site until the arrival of William Wardell, St Patrick’s had a troubled history which is reconstructed here thanks to archival material. The different stages of construction, the response of Melbourne’s population, and the commissioning of furnishings and metalwork demonstrate how bishop and architect productively worked together realising a grand building that testified to their ambitious Gothic vision (fig. 3). Chapter V deals with the parish churches Wardell designed for the diocese of Melbourne. It shows how Wardell’s designs, emphasising solidity, responded well to the bishop’s need to establish the position of the Catholic Church in the colony of Victoria, and concludes by showing the influence that the buildings realised in the 1850s and 1860s had on architects that worked for the diocese in later years.

Figure 3: William Wardell, St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, Elevation of North Western side, 1858, ink on cloth, 78 x 125 cm.

Figure 3: William Wardell, St Patrick's           Cathedral, Melbourne, Elevation of North Western side, 1858, ink on           cloth, 78 x 125 cm.

Source: Melbourne (Australia), Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission.

7The study reaches the conclusion that Goold’s cathedral and church building programme realized an impressive and consistent vision of Gothic architecture in a new environment remote from the architectural sources of the Gothic Revival. The bishop was never interested to recreate the mediaeval benevolent society central to Pugin’s thinking in his own diocese, but he fully understood the pragmatic purposes to which Gothic architecture could be put in serving the colonial context that he was administering. Showing the single-minded vision of the bishop of Melbourne, the thesis assesses Goold’s contribution to the history of the Gothic Revival in Victoria, and to that of the greater Catholic world more generally.

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Notes

1 Advocate, 28 November 1868, p. 8.

2 Alex Bremner, Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, c. 1840-1870. New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2013.

3 Jaynie Anderson, Shane Carmody and Max Vodola (eds.), The Invention of Melbourne: A Baroque Archbishop and a Gothic architect, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2019.

4 Brian Andrews, Australian Gothic: the Gothic revival in Australian architecture from the 1840s to the 1950s, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2001.

5 Joan Kerr, Designing a Colonial Church: Church building in New South Wales 1788-1888, Doctoral dissertation, Institute of Advanced Architectural studies, University of York, New York, NY, 1977, p. 65-68.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: Charles Nettleton, St Patrick's Cathedral under construction, 1866, photograph, 16.6 x 37 cm.
Crédits Source: Melbourne (Australia), State Library Victoria.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/9558/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 209k
Titre Figure 2: Unknown artist, St Mary's Church, East St Kilda, 1870s, 18 x 25 cm, photograph.
Crédits Source: Melbourne (Australia), Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/9558/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 514k
Titre Figure 3: William Wardell, St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, Elevation of North Western side, 1858, ink on cloth, 78 x 125 cm.
Crédits Source: Melbourne (Australia), Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/9558/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,7M
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Paola Colleoni, « A Gothic Vision: the Architectural Patronage of Bishop James Goold in Colonial Victoria »ABE Journal [En ligne], 18 | 2021, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2021, consulté le 27 janvier 2023. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/abe/9558 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.9558

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Auteur

Paola Colleoni

Doctor of Architecture, urban historian, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Droits d’auteur

CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Creative Commons - Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International - CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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