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Who was Augustus Pugin?
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812—1852), son of the French émigré Augustus Charles Pugin, architectural draughtsman and topographical watercolourist, is arguably the greatest British architect, designer and writer of the nineteenth century. Pugin was responsible for an enormous quantity of buildings, and also for countless beautiful designs for tiles, metalwork, furniture, wallpaper, stained glass and ceramics. Some of his best known work includes the magnificent interiors of the Houses of Parliament, the church of St Giles, Cheadle, in Staffordshire, and his own house, The Grange, in Ramsgate, Kent, together with the nearby church of St Augustine, which he built and paid for himself.
Why is Pugin so significant?
He is important because through his buildings, designs, and particularly his forceful and witty writings, such as Contrasts (1836) and the True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841), he made people think in a new way about what architecture was. Pugin taught that only a caring and 'good' society can raise buildings that are truly honest and beautiful. For him, Gothic architecture was the greatest style of building, and therefore the Middle Ages, the period in which these buildings were conceived, must be the closest man can get to a perfect society. Pugin's beliefs and ideas have implications beyond his own immediate preferences, and so for many reasons he was, and is, therefore, hugely influential, both on other architects and designers of the Gothic Revival throughout the Victorian era and also on many subsequent architects, theorists and writers. And there is much to be said besides.
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