Pite’s West End folly


An architectural rendering by Arthur Beresford Pite (1861–1934) whose proposal for a West End club house after the style of Viollet-le-Duc’s Gothic revivalism induced howls of outrage from the architectural establishment when it won the RIBA’s Soane Medallion in March, 1882. I know this drawing solely from an appearance in Felix Barker & Ralph Hyde’s London as it might have been (1982) where it fascinates not only for being one of the least likely proposals in the entire book but also for its vision of Georgian London as some kind of medieval throwback closer to Carcassonne than Cavendish Square. This copy is from a splendid Flickr set which features a wealth of fanciful architecture, real and imagined. Lots of favourites there, including the great Hugh Ferriss.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Hugh Ferriss and The Metropolis of Tomorrow
Architectural renderings by HW Brewer

2 thoughts on “Pite’s West End folly”

  1. Great drawing (and an interesting set indeed) but so weird. Mind you at the same period, American architects were prone to put Greek temple bits on their buildings, so why not a medieval building?

  2. The supposition seems to be that Pite’s drawing was more to show off his draughtsmanship than any serious proposal.

    That book I mentioned includes all the entries for the new Houses of Parliament after they burned down in 1834. Most of the designs are along Classical lines, it was only the temporary vogue for Gothic style which gave us the very distinctive building we know now. Charles Barry, the architect, produced more Classical designs–like the City Art Gallery here in Manchester–than he did Gothic ones.

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