The Revived Arts and Crafts of the Middle Ages

INSIDE THE ‘MEDIAEVAL COURT’

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‘A large greenhouse, very ingenious...but a beastly place to shew off Gothic work.’

Such was the damning verdict pronounced by A.W.N. Pugin (1812-52) upon Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace, and where he, along with John Hardman of Birmingham (1811-67) were to create their retrospective ‘Mediaeval Court’ at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

The other collaborators were the royal decorator and furnisher John Gregory Crace (1809-89), the builder and stone-carver George Myers (1804-75), and the potter Herbert Minton (1793-1858), all of whom worked to Pugin’s designs in the revived Gothic style.

It was something of a paradox that one of the most popular and widely-reported displays in this avant-garde piece of constructional engineering was the ‘Mediaeval Court’ crammed with the revived arts and crafts of the Middle Ages; but such was the paradox of the whole Gothic Movement of the nineteenth century, driven, on the whole, by younger generations exemplified by the architect/designer Augustus Pugin and his friend, John Hardman of Birmingham.

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