George Edmund Street bigraphy, stories - English architect

George Edmund Street : biography

20 June 1824 - 18 December 1881

George Edmund Street (20 June 1824 – 18 December 1881) was an English architect, born at Woodford in Essex. Stylistically, Street was a leading practitioner of the Victorian Gothic revival . Though mainly an ecclesiastical architect, he is perhaps best known as the designer of the Royal Courts of Justice, in the Strand in London.

Societies and honours

Street was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1866, and a fellow in 1871; at the time of his death he was professor of architecture to the Royal Academy, where he had delivered a course of lectures on the development of medieval architecture. He was also president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He was a member of the Royal Academy of Vienna, and in 1878, in reward for drawings sent to the Paris Exhibition, he was made a knight of the Legion of Honour.


In 1856–7, Philip Webb was Street's senior clerk and the young William Morris one of his apprentices. These two designers worked together on the Red House that became a memorial to William Morris's design principles and includes work by many of his now-famous friends. Another apprentice in the early 1870s was the Canadian architect Frank Darling.


Church of St. John the Evangelist, Ardamine Street carried out a number of new works in Ireland, including the small clifftop church of St. John the Evangelist at Ardamine, Co. Wexford, and Piltown Church, Co. Kilkenny. His most significant work was the controversial reedification of the historic Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, in the course of which he was responsible for demolishing the choir which he considered to be of "no historic significance". He also restored St. Brigid's Cathedral, Kildare Town, Ireland, which was a roofless ruin when he started work. The Cathedral reopened in 1896. He succeeded in rebuilding the lost walls to match the remnants which remained of the original walls and square tower.

Law Courts

The [[Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand in London]] Street's most recognisable building is probably the Law Courts (now the Royal Courts of Justice) in the Strand in London. The competition for this was prolonged, and much diversity of opinion was expressed. The judges wanted Street to make the exterior arrangements and Charles Barry the interior, while a special committee of lawyers recommended the designs of Alfred Waterhouse. In June 1868, however, Street was appointed sole architect; but the building was not complete at the time of his death in December 1881.


Street was twice married, first on 17 June 1852 to Mariquita, second daughter of Robert Proctor, who died in 1874, and secondly on 11 January 1876 to Jessie, second daughter of William Holland, who died in the same year.


Street was an adherent of the high church tendency of the Church of England. Street (1888), p.67 For many years he was a churchwarden of All Saints Margaret Street in London,Street (1888), p.196 built in the 1850s as a "model church" under the supervision of the Ecclesiological Society.Eastlake (1872), p.251–3 He was particularly insistent that all seats in churches should be free of charge, rather than subject to pew rent.

In 1868 Street was made Diocesan Architect of Ripon, in addition to the similar posts which he already held in the dioceses of York and Oxford, and to which Winchester was subsequently added. He was also appointed Architect to York Minster at around this time, and, later on, to Salisbury and Carlisle Cathedrals.

Wantage and Oxford

[[St Philip and St James Church in North Oxford.]] In November 1850, having been appointed architect to the diocese of Oxford he left London, and moved to Wantage, where he had already designed a vicarage, and was working on some schools. In May 1852 he went to live in Beaumont Street, Oxford.Street (1888), p.19 He built the church of St Philip and James in the city, and another at Summertown, as well as restoring many others, but his only work for the university was the rearrangement of Jesus College Chapel. His son, Arthur Edmund Street suggested that: Possibly my father's very decided adherence to the earlier phase of Gothic, and the eagerness with which he argued that Oxford had already enough of debased types, and should revert to the purity of the early forms, may have frightened the authorities.During this period he developed his use of constructional polychromy, in churches such as All Saints, Boyne Hill. Maidenhead .Hitchcock (1977), p .250. Hitchcock describes All Saints as "[Street's] first important church".

Living octopus

Living octopus

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