Imperial Gothic Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, 1840-1870 G. A. Bremner

Publication date:
15 May 2013
Paul Mellon Centre
364 pages: 279 x 210mm
80 color + 285 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


The Gothic Revival movement in architecture was intimately entwined with 18th - and 19th - century British cultural politics. By the middle of the 19th century, architects and theorists had transformed the movement into a serious scholarly endeavour, connecting it to notions of propriety and "truth", particularly in the domain of religious architecture. Simultaneously, reform within the Church of England had worked to widen the aesthetic and liturgical appeal of "correct" gothic forms. Coinciding with these developments, both architectural and religious, was the continued expansion of Britain's empire, including a renewed urgency by the English Church to extend its mission beyond the British Isles. In this groundbreaking new study, G. A. Bremner traces the global reach and influence of the Gothic Revival throughout Britain's empire during these crucial decades. Focusing on religious buildings, he examines the reinvigoration of the Church of England's colonial and missionary agenda and its relationship to the rise of Anglican ecclesiology, revealing the extraordinary nature and extent of building activity that occurred across the British world.Winner of the Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

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Winner of the Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion (Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain)
Winner of the William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History (The British Art Journal)
Winner of the Historians of British Art Book Prize (Historians of British Art, USA)

Shortlisted for Whitfield Prize (Royal Historical Society)
Shortlisted for ACE/Mercers’ Book Award (Art and Christian Enquiry, UK)

G. A. Bremner is senior lecturer in architectural history at the University of Edinburgh.

“Showing how colonial architecture is both a ‘symbol and mechanism for societal identity’, Bremner’s intricate research uncovers dynamics of architectural design and religious patronage within the smallest outpost and the most ambitious of cathedrals.”—Architectural Review

“Bremner’s Imperial Gothic provides a most substantial enrichment to our knowledge of early and mid-Victorian church architecture.”—Stefan Muthesius, The Victorian

‘A triumph of ground-breaking research and acute analysis that will fascinate and enlighten anyone seeking to understand the transmission of British values and identity across the world… It will not only open the eyes of readers to the architectural riches of the former empire; it will deepen their understanding of the imperial legacy itself.’ —Geoffrey Tyack, Journal of Historical Geography

‘[Bremner] provides an outstanding model for a new architectural model for a new architectural history, in which the most important achievements often lie on what only appears to be the periphery. This is by far the most important book that ties together any chapter of the history of the architecture of the English-speaking world in this way.’ —Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Journal of Architectural Education

‘Bremner’s book is…an unrivalled portrait of the imperial ambitions and Gothic aesthetics of high Anglicanism in the mid-nineteenth century, its global scope and theoretical ambition matched by its fastidious analysis of individual churches and by 362 well-chosen illustrations.’—Michael Ledger-Lomas, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Shortlisted for the 2013 Whitfield Prize sponsored by the Royal Historical Society.

Winner of the 2013 Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion from the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

"[An] extraordinary book. . .Prof Bremner is the first architectural historian to try to encompass the subject in a single volume, as its geographical sweep is vast. . . As he moves from the South African veld to the Canadaian plains and from the city streets of Dublin to the palm groves of Honolulu, he takes a refreshingly independent approach to the imperial enterprise."—Michael Hall, Country Life

“Alex Bremner is a young architectural historian who has already made a name for himself in Gothic-revival circles for his boundless energy – articles, conferences, symposia, prizes – and with this impressive first book he is launched as a major scholar. He describes the spread of the 'true' Puginite Gothic revival across almost the whole of the world at the hands of dedicated Tractarians and ecclesiologists with illustrations by many wonderful new photographs and contemporary views.”—Timothy Brittain-Catlin, The Tablet

“A opus magnum...170,000-words long, illustrated with some 400 photographs, and the result of many miles of arduous travel. It really is an achievement. Readers will feel that they, too, have achieved something by the end of it; for they will have been given a new way of seeing familiar buildings – and not just those that they encounter abroad.”—Revd Dr William Whyte, Church Times

“Although wide in scope and rich in scholarly detail, Bremner remains focused and easy to follow in his arguments. By considering the unique cultural context for each religious building, he sets a model for future scholarship in this field and demonstrates that the ideas behind the Gothic Revival Movement were not simply adapted or diluted for imperial export, but were actively developed across the globe.”—Francesca Herrick, Burlington Magazine

“He brings a great quantity of new information, and a magnificent collection of illustrations to illuminate it.”—Peter Howell, The Art Newspaper

“This splendid work superbly illustrates and describes churches created in the cause of global Anglicanism. ‘Groundbreaking book’ is an over-used term, but that it what this is: a beautiful reminder of the high-minded aspirations of what was once considered to be not an ignoble undertaking.”—James Stevens Curl, Times Higher Education Supplement

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