Completing Pugin’s Vision: Dunn And Hansom’s Contribution to St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle

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St Mary’s R.C. Cathedral in Newcastle was designed by A.W.N. Pugin (1812-1852), the leading architect and polemicist of the Gothic Revival, but his initial conception remained incomplete due to financial limitations. This article examines the alterations and additions carried out by Dunn and Hansom, Newcastle’s leading Catholic architects of the nineteenth century. Illuminating the cathedral’s architectural evolution, it argues that Dunn and Hansom were instrumental in completing Pugin’s vision for the building. Furthermore, their work on this distinguished place of worship helped to consolidate their status as the preeminent Catholic architects in the region. Dunn and Hansom’s subsequent career illuminates the social, cultural and economic forces that were transforming the English Catholic Church during this period. The Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 and the re-establishment of the diocesan hierarchy alleviated the persecution of former times. Industrialisation and the Irish Famine brought an influx of Irish migrants into Britain’s industrial regions, creating an urgent need for new places of worship. Dunn and Hansom were instrumental in rebuilding the infrastructure of Catholic worship, education and administration. The resulting network of churches, chapels and schools provided social cohesion for uprooted Irish communities and enabled them to formulate a shared ethnic and spiritual identity. The article draws on extensive research in the British Architectural Library, the RIBA Archive and the Tyne and Wear Archives, as well as an exhaustive survey of Victorian architectural journals.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationNorthern Catholic History
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


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