Gothic Revival Architecture Essay

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Most of the impetus for this judgement was people waxing poetic over the Canadian Parliament buildings.

However, the joke’s on them, because very little of English Gothic was actually used in the Parliament buildings, and that’s not even an architectural historian talking: that’s what the architects themselves said.

This was likely due to a microcosm of local builders who were influenced by each other, and by other buildings in the area.

Prince Edward County also once contained Warwick House, later renamed Rickarton Castle, which you can read a bit more about on the blog Ancestral Roofs (spoiler alert: it was demolished).

They commented, Mathilde Brosseau’s study of the Canadian Gothic Revival only identifies the library as English Gothic; meanwhile the Parliament buildings also include French mansard roofs and seem to take most of their influence from medieval Flemish architecture. (Brosseau literally suggests the Cloth Hall at Ypres as a similar building, which I don’t really see to be honest.

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Random aside: cat-throwing used to occur from the top of the Cloth Hall tower. also suggests the Cloth Hall at Ypres as a similar building based on its design of a tower with two extending wings, but I think he’s citing Brosseau.I remember learning about that tradition but I didn’t know it was in Ypres. He also remarked that the architects’ statement of their influences was “borrowed” from a “contemporary British source.” This doesn’t make it any less true!The fact that I feel I have so much more to say on Gothic Revival means I’m probably set to begin my essay. If you have any questions, please let me know because it will give me areas to expand upon in my paper. It’s illustrated in Thaddeus Leavitt’s The nice people at Heritage Brockville were kind enough to tell me that this house, which they’ve named the Latham-Sherman House, is still standing on Sherwood Street, though its vertical thrust has been compromised by a heavy porch addition.This house has virtually none of the usual Gothic vocabulary, except for those amazing panels of windows that shoot through the roof into evocations of buttresses. In the twentieth century, especially, Gothic Revival began to be seen as a specifically Anglo-Canadian style.The book contains many examples of farmhouses with lancet windows (some with intricate tracery), bargeboards, and the like.It’s much more pronounced than in the Kingston area.It was apparently inspired by Warwick Castle in England.Interestingly, Rickarton had a history similar to some of the earliest Gothic Revival houses in England.In 1796, William Beckford, escaping a sex scandal involving a teenage boy, began to build his immense Fonthill Abbey near his father’s Palladian mansion Fonthill Splendens, which he rather wantonly demolished a few years later.Fast forward to 1860, and we have Colonel Ryland buying a (clearly not medieval) house in Hallowell township, which was remodelled over the next three years by Ryland and his wife into a Canadian castle.


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