Little is known about the activities of key Victorian architects outside the UK. This is despite the fact that George Edmund Street, for example, was involved in either designing or restoring buildings in Italy, Ireland, France, Turkey and Australia.

ECA researcher, Dr Alex Bremner, has been awarded a Rome Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art to pursue research on the history of Victorian church design in the context of Continental Europe, with a particular focus on the work of G.E. Street (1824-81). The Fellowship (2013-2014) was located at the British School in Rome.

In the course of his Fellowship, Alex conducted in-depth and systematic research into two of G.E. Street’s finest Anglican churches in Rome: St. Paul’s-Within-the-Walls (1873-6); and All Saints’, Via del Babuino (1874-82). He examined how these two works fit within wider discourses and debates concerning ecclesiology, polychromy and Ruskinian influences on Italianate Gothic, as well as Street’s own writings on Mediterranean architecture.

The work provided insights into the impact of these discourses and debates in Victorian architecture, and revealed how the Italian context, in this instance, informed Street’s designs.

Alex’s interest in the European dimension of ecclesiology was stimulated during a symposium he organised in conjunction with the Victorian Society in 2010. The results of this symposium were published as a special edition of Studies in Victorian Architecture and Design entitled ‘Ecclesiology Abroad: The British Empire and Beyond’ (2012).

A further catalyst for the research was an invitation from William Tronzo and Nicholas Napoli to contribute to an edited volume entitled Radical Marble: A Mediterranean Stone in Global Context. For this, Alex situated Victorian architects’ use of marble in a worldwide context, including a discussion of Street’s two Roman churches.

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