Augustus Northmore Welby Pugin was born on the 1st March, so this year marks the 200th anniversary of his birth. Architect, artist and creative genius he is best known for his development and promotion of the ‘Gothic revival’ – a style of art which looked back to the art of the middle ages for its inspiration. His work can be seen in London at the Houses of Parliament which were rebuilt following a fire in 1834. The architect of the new Houses of Parliament was Charles Barry who had also worked with Pugin in Birmingham on the new King Edward Grammar School building on New Street and Birmingham Archives & Heritage has drawings for this scheme and other works by Barry in its collections. For this project Pugin worked closely with his friend and collaborator John Hardman, a Birmingham-based metal worker. Pugin inspired Hardman to extend his business from metal-work to produce high quality stained glass, inspired by the medieval glass which represented Pugin’s artistic ideals. In Birmingham their most famous and visible project together is St Chad’s Cathedral which was the first Roman Catholic Cathedral built in England since the Reformation.
The records of the firm of John Hardman are held at Birmingham Archives & Heritage and include correspondence with Pugin, Charles Barry (architect of the Houses of Parliament). The cartoons and illustrations produced by the firm are at Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery.
More events and information about the bicentenary celebrations are available on the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery’s website.
Michael Fisher, Hardman of Birmingham – Goldsmith and Glasspainter (2008)
Rosemary Hill, God’s Architect: Pugin and the building of Romantic Britain (2007)
Andy Foster, Pevsner Architectural Guide to Birmingham (2005)