In A Season Lost, Elizabeth at one point teases her husband about putting a “gothick facade” on Pemberley. It’s not a typo – I promise I did not get k-happy!
The two gothic movements in architecture you may be more familiar with are the traditional medieval gothic, which can most commonly be seen today in older churches and cathedrals, and Victorian neo-gothic, when they lost their minds with twiddly-bits.
So where does this “Gothick” fit in, in all of this? Well, although we tend to think of Georgian architecture as great big symmetrical country houses, and somewhat smaller or palace-fronted (yet still symmetrical) town houses, during the Regency years there were other styles that gained in popularity. Gothick, or Strawberry Hill Gothic sources back to Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House, and features crenellation and gothic arches in its windows and other elements. Unlike both styles of gothic architecture, it usually involved a render, rather than stone, which when painted gives it a brighter-looking exterior. And don’t worry if you don’t know what these architectural terms mean, because I’m going to show lots of pictures!
Also popular during the Regency era was the Cottage Orné or Ornee, meant to look like a twee cottage and featuring a thatched roof, but very often anything but little. I had a chance to visit Sidmouth during my trip to England this year, and while it’s not as famous as Bath for its extant architecture, perhaps it should be. Bath is more universally handsome, but I would argue that Sidmouth is the most architecturally distinct, for these styles were popular for a very brief period of time, and unlike the neoclasscal foundations of Georgian architecture, which ensures elements of it still live on in new buildings today, they really didn’t last very long and are far more unique.
There’s something playful and fantastical about these styles, almost as though they belong in a cartoon world. And yet this is what would have been known to Jane Austen and her characters as a new, modern style. Somehow it does not seem right for Rosings Park (“a handsome modern building, well situated on rising ground”), but it is a possibility.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed this peek at a different architectural style. It’s occurred to me that while I showed examples of some of the architectural terms I talked about earlier in the post, I haven’t shown palace fronts. I think perhaps that’s a topic for next month’s post!