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Title: A theatre for the soul : St. George's Church, Jesmond : the building and cultural reception of a late-Victorian church
Author: Moat, Neil
ISNI:       0000 0004 2730 2631
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2011
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St. George's church (Osborne Road), Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1885-1891), is a Grade-I listed building, notable for its ambitious scale, unity of conception, and the quality and elaboration of its interior decoration. Commissioned and furnished in its entirety by the influential Tyneside ship-builder Charles Mitchell (1820-1895), a senior partner in the powerful armaments and engineering conglomerate of Sir W.G. Armstrong, Mitchell & Co., St. George's was the magnum opus of the little-known architect and artist-craftsman Thomas Ralph Spence (1845-1918). Although recognised from the first as a significant artistic achievement, and despite Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's high estimation of the church – 'Very restrained in the details… expensive and tasteful decoration, very progressive in style for its date… Arts and Crafts approaching Art Nouveau' – Spence's masterpiece has not to date received anything like an extended analysis. The present study aims to re-evaluate the significance of the church, primarily in the light of recent readings in late-Victorian ecclesiology and the cultural context of North-East England. The study also collates and analyses for the first time much of the extensive archival material – including important documentation previously unavailable – correlating this with a close reading of the built fabric and with reference to local artisanal and industrial practice. St. George's offered a fresh paradigm for Anglican church-building in the North-East of England, embodying the hopes of a newly established diocese, in one of the fastest growing industrial conurbations of late-nineteenth century Britain. It was, appropriately, the first large-scale demonstration of the aims of the newly founded Art Worker's Guild, and of the latest ideas stemming from 'new art' designers on the Continent. More so than their 'display' houses, Mitchell's church signalled the cosmopolitan interests yet fiercely regional pride of Armstrong's men, one of the most significant (and controversial) groupings of late-Victorian industrialists.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available