Many Gothic sham ruins erected after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 were produced as attacks on England's Catholic and baronial past. Such ruins were not simply images of picturesque beauty or of nostalgia: rather, they were monuments of ridicule and images of just destruction, commemorating the defeat of Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, by the forces of George II. The Young Pretender threatened England with the return of monasteries, the return of the tyranny of John and Charles I, and the return to the power of the pope in England. The one thing that many eighteenth-century Englishmen did not want was a genuine return to the Gothic past; such a return threatened to extinguish much that eighteenth-century Whiggism had accomplished. The Gothic sham ruins discussed in this essay were the product not of a deep sense of cultural respect, but, in fact, for some, of a sense of cultural opposition. Politics and religion help us to understand why Sanderson Miller, George Lyttelton, Lord Hardwicke, and William Shenstone built Gothic ruins. Distrust for things Gothic spread far beyond these four men: It extended from Horace Walpole at mid-century to William Gilpin at the end of the century, from the century's greatest leader of the Gothic Revival to the century's greatest promoter of the picturesque aesthetic.
- Copyright 1996 The Society of Architectural Historians