St. George's Presbyterian Chapel, Sunderland
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St. George's Presbyterian Chapel, Sunderland

The architecture of the Georgian and Victorian periods was based on revivals of older styles. Georgian architecture was dominated by Neo-Classicism, a style based on the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. SunderlandÂ’s first efforts at Neo-Classical design were tentative, but St. GeorgeÂ’s Chapel in Villiers Street (1825) is a bold and confident design of striking austerity.

The architecture of the Georgian and Victorian periods was based on revivals of older styles. Georgian architecture was dominated by Neo-Classicism, a style based on the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. Sunderland’s first efforts at Neo-Classical design were tentative, but St. George’s Chapel in Villiers Street (1825) is a bold and confident design of striking austerity.

The ground floor has rusticated stonework – in other words, the blocks of stone are expressed as separate horizontal bands, giving an impression of strength and impregnability. The façade is dominated by a triangular pediment, supported on bold Doric pilasters, or flat columns. These are the basic elements of Classical architecture and give the chapel the stern dignity of a Greek temple. In a break from strict classical formulae, however, the pilasters are not equidistant: the central bay is wider than the others, framing a panelled door. The heavy pediment displays the Roman numerals MDCCCXXV - 1825. There is evidence of further lettering, but this has been removed.

Aside from the façade, the building is executed in coarse stone, although the rear has dressings of ashlar and a shallow apse. The chapel is set back from the street and bounded by railings, which were added in 1873.

Standing alongside is the former school for St. George’s, a symmetrical two-storey building of 1849. The central door is framed by Tuscan columns and a severe entablature. The windows are set within architraves. At the corners are blocks of rusticated stonework known as ‘quoins’. The building has a crowning entablature with a wide cornice resting on brackets.

St. George’s chapel was designed by the builder James Hogg (1785-1838), who was the first Sunderland man to be described as an ‘architect’ in local directories. Despite his lack of formal training, Hogg proved to be very successful at following Classical rules of composition. With its grey stone and strict composition, the chapel not only echoed the temples of ancient Greece, it also pointed towards later examples of Greek purity, such as Penshaw Monument (1848).

 

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Comments (2)

Excellent article, although the building is simple, but it displays a very intricate details of classical architecture and refers to the architect's understanding of the essence of the language he used. Your description to the components of the building is very clear and takes us smoothly to appreciate the architectural work. Thanks for posting.voted up

Ranked #1 in Architecture

Thanks, Abdel-moniem.

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