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London, Christ Church School, Brick Lane

The provision of education to the poor was a central tenet of charitable institutions from an early date.
Christ Church Primary School, Brick Lane of 1873-4 by James Tolley & D. Robert Dale is a notable 19th century successor to charity schools founded in the parish in 1708. The earlier buildings were demolished to make way for Commercial Street c.1851-2 and the present school erected over the east end of Christ Church's graveyard., In contrast to the classicalGlossary Term style of the earlier school, shown in a carved stone plaque on the south wing, the present building is consciously ecclesiastical making use of decorative polychrome patterning popular for urban church buildings of this period. Red brick with blue brick diapering and stone dressingsGlossary Term, steep slate roof with ornamental ridge tiles. The centre range of two storeys and four half-dormered windows contains classrooms over a GothicGlossary Term arcaded covered playground (now filled in), constructed on arches in orderGlossary Term to avoid disturbing graves. Stairs at either end, one in a bayGlossary Term fronted lobby, the other open. Flanking this are projecting wings, originally designed as houses for the school master and mistress.

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London, Working Lad's Institute, Whitechapel Road

The former Working Lads Institute, Whitechapel Road by George Baines, 1884-5 was a unique attempt to provide distractions for boys over thirteen years old after they had finished work. First proposed in 1876 by J.E Saunders of the Corporation of London, the institute at Whitechapel was to have been the first of several in London with reading room, library, classroom, bank and clothing club. Extended 1886-8 for lecture hall and swimming bath. Now flats.

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London, People's Palace (former), Mile End Road

The People's Palace, Mile End Road was the most ambitious, if misguided attempt to provide the East End with a cultural and educational institution worthy of the West End. The inspiration was Walter Besant's ""All Sorts and Conditions of Men"" which decried the lack of any centre for ""rational recreation"" in the East End, away from the immoralities of the pubs and gambling dens. Bread riots during the winter of 1885-6 raised fears about the conditions of East London and gave impetus to a successful fund-raising campaign which culminated in 1887 with designs by E.R. Robson for an opulent fantasy hall that was part Crystal Palace, part Alhambra. In the final design, Robson provided a quasi neo-Grecian facade, behind which stood the Queen's Hall, an outrageous confection with statues of England's Queens ranged on both sides between tiers of balconies. It was intended ""for those to whom high rents forbid the luxury of a drawing room"" and attempted to reproduce Besant's literary fantasy in almost slavish detail. But the People's Palace was ill-fated and unpopular. The destruction of its hall, by fire in 1933, allowed however for the adjoining technical schools to be re-established as Queen Mary College, University of London.

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London, Whitechapel Library

Whitechapel Library, Whitechapel High Street. 1891-2 by Potts, Son & Hennings; one of the many free public libraries and institutes to appear in London c.1890-1905 funded by J. Passmore Edwards, editor of the Building News. This was the first in East London and characterises the drift away from sermonising GothicGlossary Term towards a warmer aesthetic combining Northern RenaissanceGlossary Term details with BaroqueGlossary Term asymmetry. Red-brick with mullioned and leaded windows dressed in terracottaGlossary Term tiles by Burmantoft's, popular for their perceived resistance to the polluted atmosphere of the East End. Showy sculpted friezeGlossary Term of interweaving foliage at first floor and sculpted spandrelsGlossary Term of putti over the entrance signed by R. Spruce. The roofline was originally more distinctive with shaped gables and a central cupolaGlossary Term.

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London, Whitechapel Art Gallery

The adjacent Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1898-1901 by Charles Harrison Townsend, was also executed with funds from Passmore Edwards. Wonderfully original and an epoch making building in spite of its moderate size. Initially referred to as the ""Whitechapel Art Palace"", it typifies efforts to bring, in the language of the period, "the best to the lowest" accompanied by Ruskinian exhortations that ""Life without Industry is guilt, Industry without Art is brutality." Its facade is without any borrowed motifs of the past, as original as any Art NouveauGlossary Term on the Continent, with the lower storey dominated by an asymmetrical double doorway under a massive keyed archGlossary Term springing from the stringGlossary Term courseGlossary Term. Upper storeys faced in familiar hard-wearing buff terracottaGlossary Term tiles with realistic layered foliage, possibly by William Aumonier, clasping the baseGlossary Term of a pair of squat towers. In the centre is a dark painted blank sectionGlossary Term, originally intended to hold a mosaic panel by Walter Crane representing "The Sphere and Message of Art". Passmore Edwards would not pay for its commission after Barnett refused to let the galleryGlossary Term bear his name. Remodelling by Colquhoun Miller Partners in 1988 gave the interior an elegant all-white treatment which retains the sense of Townsend's spaces but compliments them with rational classicalGlossary Term forms. The geometricGlossary Term details of the doors make appropriate nods to the tradition of Glasgow and Vienna Secessionist designers of c.1900.



Types include: Basket arch or Anse de Panier (French, lit. basket handle): three-centred and depressed, or with a flat centre. Chancel: dividing chancel from nave or crossing in a church. Crossing: spanning piers at a crossing in a church. Depressed or three-centred: with a rounded top, but curving inward more at the sides. Four-centred: with four arcs, the lower two curving inward more than the upper, with a blunt central point; typical of late medieval English architecture. Jack arch: shallow segmental vault springing from beams, used for fireproof floors, bridge decks, etc. Ogee (adjective ogival): a pointed arch with a double reverse curve, especially popular in the 14th century; a nodding ogee curves forward from the wall face at the top. Parabolic: shaped like a chain suspended from two level points, but inverted. Relieving or discharging: incorporated in a wall to relieve superimposed weight. Shouldered: with arcs in each corner and a flat centre or lintel. Skew: spanning responds not diametrically opposed. Stilted: with a vertical section above the impost i.e. the horizontal moulding at the springing. Strainer: inserted in an opening to resist inward pressure. Three-centred: see Depressed, above. Transverse: spanning a main axis (e.g. of a vaulted space). Triumphal arch: influential type of Imperial Roman monument, free-standing, with a square attic or top section and broad sections to either side of the main opening, often with lesser openings or columns. Tudor: with arcs in each corner joining straight lines to the central point. Two-centred: the simplest kind of pointed arch.

Art Nouveau

A European decorative style at its peak c. 1890-1910, marked by swirling ornament derived from natural forms. True Art Nouveau design aimed to be distinct from all previous styles. Compare Free Style.


The term, originally derogatory, for a style at its peak in 17th- and early 18th-century Europe, which developed the classical architecture of the Renaissance towards greater extravagance and drama. Its innovations included greater freedom from the conventions of the orders, much interplay of concave and convex forms, and a preference for the single visual sweep. The revival of the style in early 20th-century Britain, often termed Edwardian Baroque or Neo-Baroque, drew more on English prototypes than on the more expansive variants of the Continent.


Moulded foot of a column or pilaster. An Attic base is the form used on an Ionic column, with two large convex rings joined by a spreading convex moulding.


Division of an elevation or interior space as defined by regular vertical features such as arches, columns, windows etc.


A term used for the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome, revived at the Renaissance and subsequently imitated around the Western world. It uses a range of conventional forms, the roots of which are the orders, or types of column each with its fixed proportions and ornaments (especially Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). Classical buildings tend also to be symmetrical, both externally and on plan. Classical architecture in England began c. 1530 with applied ornamental motifs, followed within a few decades by fully-fledged new buildings.


Continuous layer of stones, bricks etc. in a wall.


(lit. dome): Especially, a small dome on a circular or polygonal base crowning a larger dome, roof, or turret. Also (Scots) a small dome or skylight as an internal feature, especially over a stairwell.


The stone or brickwork worked to a finished face about an angle, opening, or other feature.


The middle member of the classical entablature, sometimes ornamented. Pulvinated frieze (lit. cushioned): of bold convex profile. Also a horizontal band of ornament.


A long room or passage; an upper storey above the aisles of a church, looking through arches to the nave; a balcony or mezzanine overlooking the main interior space of a building; or an external walkway.


English Gothic architecture c. 1240-1290. During this period the French invention of bar tracery allowed for larger windows subdivided by stone mullions and tracery, in place of the single lancets of the Early English style. Geometrical tracery is the earliest kind of this bar tracery, i.e. with patterns formed by intersecting moulded ribwork continuing upwards from the mullions, using simple forms, especially circles, chiefly foiled.


The style of the Middle Ages from the later 12th century to the Renaissance, with which it co-existed in certain forms into the 17th century. Characterized in its full development by the pointed arch, the rib-vault and an often skeletal masonry structure for churches, combined with large glazed windows. The term was originally associated with the concept of the barbarian Goths as assailants of classical civilization.


One of a series of recessed arches and jambs forming a splayed medieval opening, e.g. a doorway or arcade arch. Also, an upright structural member used in series, especially in classical architecture: see Orders.


The revival of classical architecture that began in 15th-century Italy and spread through Western Europe and the Americas in the following two centuries, finding distinctive forms and interpretations in different states and regions. From c. 1830 the Italian version was revived in Britain as a style in its own right (sometimes called Neo-Renaissance or Italianate), i.e. as distinguished from the native Georgian classical tradition.


Two-dimensional representation of a building, moulding etc., revealed by cutting across it.


Roughly triangular spaces between an arch and its containing rectangle, or between adjacent arches. Also non-structural panels under the windows, especially on a curtain-walled building.


A sloping member holding the ends of the treads and risers of a staircase. A closed string has a continuous upper edge and covers the ends of the treads and risers. An open string is cut into the shape of the treads and risers.


Moulded and fired clay ornament or cladding; when glazed and coloured or left white often called faience.