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George Edmund Street Unpublished Notes and Reprinted Papers

George Edmund Street Unpublished Notes and Reprinted Papers
Title: George Edmund Street Unpublished Notes and Reprinted Papers
Release Date: 2018-12-10
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Transcriber’s Note:
Cover created by Transcriber and placed in the Public Domain.

No. 100









I.   1
II. Notes of a Tour in Central Italy 59
III. Notes on French Churches 97
  Some French Churches Chiefly in the Royal Domain 99
  Architectural Notes in France 127
  Some Churches of Le Puy en Velay and Auvergne 201
Appendix 253
  S. Mary’s Stone 255
  Churches in Northern Germany 270
Index 333


Zamora on the Douro Frontispiece
George Street at about twenty-five 8
In Leon Cathedral 29
The Old Cathedral of Salamanca 46
George Edmund Street in 1877 57
Master Matthew’s Porch at Santiago 92
The Ambulatory, Cathedral of Tours 127
The South Transept at Soissons 162
Nave and Transept, Salamanca 196
The Templars’ Church at Segovia 227
The Western Porch, Saumur 249
Rood-screen in Lübeck Cathedral 271
The Great S. Martin, Cologne 307


I have to thank Arthur Edmund Street, Esq., of London,for the generous loan of some notebooks and drawings, andthrough these for a more intimate knowledge of his greatfather’s fine temper and manly art.

Bryn Mawr, Epiphany, 1915


And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city,and the gates thereof and the walls thereof. And the city lieth foursquare,and the length is as large as the breadth. And the buildingof the wall of it was of jasper; every several gate was of one pearl.




I have written the memorial, brief enough and allinadequate, of a man who died more than thirtyyears ago, who lived a Tory and a High Churchman,who worked to revive Gothic architecture in England.His books are out of print, his occasional papers andpamphlets so entirely dispersed and forgotten that noteven a bibliography can be recovered. His name goesunrecognized in general talk; his party is wasted to awraith or transformed beyond recognition; his Churchis menaced by Disestablishment in Wales, and Modernismon the Continent; his strong and sincere architectureis superseded by steel and concrete; yet no manever less fought a losing fight, no figure ever less evokedregret or toleration. He prospered, but his personalitymade that a kind of happy consequence; he served God,but his genius made that a kind of crowning grace; hewas an Englishman, but was that in no mean or halfwayfashion. Rather, George Street embodied and expressedin his own temper the very genius of the northern kind.

2His people were substantial, of the strong British stockwhich is good for grafting on. In the sixteenth centurythey were respected in and about Worcester; one ofthe name went to Parliament in 1563, and another hadbeen Mayor in 1535. In the eighteenth century someof them went to Surrey, and early in the nineteenthThomas Street was a solicitor in London. He had movedinto the suburbs, however, before his youngest son,George Edmund Street, was born. This was in 1824.The boy did well enough at school, but at fifteen he wastaken away, when his father removed from Camberwellto Crediton. No school was at hand, and a solicitorwould not send his son to Eton and Oxford. Instead, hesent him to the London office. This was in 1840. Afterthe father’s death, in that year, young Street was anxiousto go to college and to prepare for Holy Orders, but wantof money made the hope impossible, and the strong vocationproved to be for the Third Order—a layman’spart in building up the house of the Lord and makingfair the ministry therein.

It seems to have mattered not at all, in the event, thatStreet was not a University man. In reading the correspondenceof Keats, we must deplore that he had nothad certain conventions of good taste and good feelingsharply imposed upon him at a great public school; inreading the poetry of Browning we must regret that hemissed the tradition of self-criticism and academic stabilitywhich would have saved him from the fantasticalityof his Greek names and the dullness of his longerParleyings; but Street seems to have got out of his professionand his associates all that Oxford would havegiven, and escaped whatever harm it could have done.3He saved, meanwhile, nearly ten years of life, and spentthese on churches, chiefly old. He has not the marks ofthe University man, but for that he is none the worse.No more in truth has Morris. Instead of culture he hasenergy, instead of urbanity he has self-control, insteadof classical he has professional reading behind him. Itis only in a very special sense, after all, that he did withoutwhat we call culture and what we call urbanity; inthe sense of Newman’s rather malicious definition of agentleman as a University man who is too indifferentfor enthusiasms and too sceptical for prejudices. Ifyoung Street never went to school after he was fifteen,and no record remains of his reading regularly or underdirection, yet he read irregularly all his life; by middleage he had read everything that a man must have read.Beyond this, in the subjects that he had at heart hehad gone wide and deep. He must have mastered andspoken, besides French and German, both Italian andSpanish, and he carried on his research into Latin documents,it seems, with ease and speed. After meals andon journeys the busy man found his opportunity; hetook up and took in a vast deal of contemporarythinking; finished the newspaper quickly, and reviewsand the graver sort of periodical literature almost asfast. In his case, as rarely happens, another art couldgive what most men seek in literature if they ever seekit, and the taste was refined and the spirit inspired notso much by fine poetry as by pure Gothic. The churchesof England and the cathedrals of France taught him thatperfect measure, that economy of force, that high seriousness,that austerity of beauty, for which others aresent to the Iliad and the Divine Comedy. Barring4belles-lettres and biology, there is little indeed, whetherin science or in mathematics, that the University canoffer, which the arts do not exact. If architecture ison the one side an art, it is on the other a profession,and partakes as little of the tradesman’s mean-mindednessas of the artist’s irresponsibility. It is probable,moreover, that his passion for landscape had as muchto do in forming the character as Wordsworth’s. Bythe living rock and the ancient wall, by the perfect fabricof Notre Dame and S. Marco, by the worship in chantedpsalm and antiphonal prayer, his spirit was forged andtempered.

At school he had sketched and scrawled, and whenafter his father’s death in 1840 he was recalled to livewith his mother and sister at Exeter, he studied paintingfor a while as painting was taught in the provinces,learning the management of oils and the science of perspective.No harm could come from this except that inlandscape sketching later he was shy of strong colour,and set down Spain and Italy more pallid than he liked;but already the current of his life was running by churchwalls. In the year before, his brother, who was eightyears his senior and was brim-full of mediaevalism, hadtaken him on a short walking trip for what they calledecclesiologizing. For a while he lived near Exeter cathedral,drawn to it at that time by every sentiment: grieffor his father—since his domestic affections werestable—and anxiety for the future, strong religious feeling,aesthetic feeling as strong, the beauty of the serviceand the beauty of the building. Thence he made anothertrip with this same brother, Thomas, around aboutthrough the West of England to Barnstaple, Bideford,5Torrington and Clovelly. The diary of that tour, writtenshortly after his sixteenth birthday, is simply thefirst of the always happy notebooks which record hismany journeys in the interest of landscape and art. Itsets down the lay of the land and the aspect of thestreets where they passed; it notes that he got up atsix to sketch out of his bedroom window; and it preservesmore fact than comment, and less of the trivialthan of the significant. Within another year he wasarticled to an architect in Winchester, studying thecathedral from every point and at every hour. Thetwo brothers tramped the country for twenty milesabout, and as they could pushed further, for themost part on foot still. In the spring of 1843 theywalked to Chichester; in the autumn into Lincolnshire;the next year into Sussex. In 1845 they reached Northampton,returning thither in 1846 and again in 1850.The same autumn he went to the Lake Country andthence across to Durham and home by the Yorkshiredales and abbeys. Jervaulx, however, he missed atthis time, nor does it appear among the sketches ofother abbeys in a notebook of 1875. In the springof 1847 the two brothers were among the churches ofthe fen-land in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Meanwhilein 1844 Thomas, who was the eldest of the brothers,and had succeeded to his father’s practice, took ahouse near London and fetched his mother and sisterto live with him there.

George, who was lonely and heartily sick of Winchester,came up to share it, with a letter for G. G.Scott and drawings of his own to show. Taken on becausework was pressing, he was kept on because his6work was good, and stayed in the office of Scott andMoffatt until he was ready to set up for himself five yearslater. Thomas Street by 1849 was married; the requirementsof his profession, if not more serious, were moreexacting. He made fewer tours, but his taste for architecture,and apparently his taste in architecture, remainedsound. “At this time, they were all livingtogether at Lee, and afterwards at Peckham,” says theMemoir written in 1888 by

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