Nine of the eighteen buildings in Ireland that Pugin had a hand in (I’m choosing my words carefully) are in Co Wexford and you may well wonder why I didn’t see any when there recently. St Aidan’s Cathedral in Enniscorthy would have been an obvious choice, especially as we drove through the town.
Probably his most interesting Irish house is Adare Manor. To digress, my sister was admired by Thady Dunraven, as he became, but she wasn’t on the shelf and he didn’t take her down and dust her. The house is called a calendar house because it has 365 windows and 52 chimneys. They don’t build them like that anymore.
Anyway I found a Pugin church closer to home. St Thomas of Canterbury is down the road. When I went at dusk on Monday evening it was, of course, locked. Then my luck turned. The improbably named Father Dennis Touw-Tempelmans Plat hove into view and told me to go round to the side door. I have used a stock picture of the interior because the light was so poor. It is impressive and, Father Dennis told me, the only Pugin church in London north of the river. Spot on if he meant RC but I think Pugin may have had a hand in the chapel in the crypt of the House of Lords but don’t let’s get bogged down in detail.
Pugin did not confine himself to grandiose projects like the interior of the Palace of Westminster. He is credited with designing these fine cottages near Windermere Station in Cumbria.
Pugin’s Swiss father fled Paris during the French Revolution and was an architectural draughtsman for John Nash, the architect for so many fine Regency streets and crescents in London. He wrote about medieval architecture (eg Examples of Gothic Architecture) so no doubt where his son’s inspiration came from. Anyway, it’s good to have a Pugin on the doorstep.