Augustus Welby Pugin (Fig. 1) was the acknowledged leader of the Gothic revival in 19th-century England. Examples of his work appear everywhere in the country-everywhere, that is, except Oxford. This man was guided by strict principles of "pointed" or "Christian" architecture; however, unlike many architects of his day, Pugin's beliefs were also governed by a fervent-and sometimes oppressive-devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. He was convinced that outward signs of devotion were indispensable, and that the Church of Rome was the true expounder of Christian faith. Pugin would have loved to erect a building based on these principles in what he called "the most Catholic-looking city in England." The aim of this article is to demonstrate that the rejection of Pugin as architect for the new buildings at Balliol in 1843 was not simply a case of a Roman Catholic's working in a hostile Protestant environment; rather, he was dismissed because of the vehemence with which he pressed his own cause and derided that of others. Balliol was a great loss to Pugin; the course of events described in these pages serves as a painful reminder of overabundant zeal in pursuit of a goal.
- Copyright 1986 The Society of Architectural Historians