John Summerson

I was intrigued by the comment on my post about St. Pancras Station that John Summerson told John Betjeman that he found it ‘nauseating’.   Summerson is, of course, of the generation who might be expected to be hostile to Victorian architecture, but by the late 1960s he was working on his Bampton lectures which were published in 1970 by Columbia University Press as Victorian Architecture:  Four Studies in Evaluation;  he later published The Architecture of Victorian London, a sequel to his much better known book on Georgian London;  and I remember being told that he loved H.H. Richardson’s Trinity Church in Boston.   The answer is contained in Simon Bradley’s excellent short monograph on St. Pancras:  that Summerson, as he explained in a lecture at Columbia in 1968, couldn’t bear the disjunction between the hotel and the train shed – ‘the disintegration of architecture and engineering:  the total separation between functional and “artistic” criteria, in separate heads and hands’.


2 thoughts on “John Summerson

  1. Fascinating, and in this way, St Pancras contrasts greatly with both the old and new parts of King’s Cross next door, where the engineering and architecture blend so well.

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