Places to Visit to see Victorian Art

  Victorian churches and other buildings  can be found all over Britain and also in the USA and what was the British Empire. Many of the buildings  are in the Gothic Revival style. Many have interesting patterned floor tiles and stone or wood carvings, while the stained glass windows often show a very high standard of craftsmanship.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, or V&A, is open from 10am-5.45 pm daily. This is a fine Victorian building next to the Victorian Natural History Museum in South Kensington. The V&A has William Morris’s Green Dining Room and a fine collection of Victorian furnishings, including works by Pugin and William Morris, .

London has public buildings as well as churches by most of the major Victorian architects. The most famous is probably The Palace of Westminster or Houses of Parliament, which has tours in the summer. The elaborate decorations by A. W. N. Pugin include richly tiled floors and brightly coloured hand printed wallpapers, some of these items and designs by Pugin  can also be seen in the British Galleries at the V&A.

George Gilbert  Scott was a leader of the Gothic Revival, though Lord Palmerston forced him to build the Foreign Office in Whitehall in the classical style. The writings of Pugin  influenced Scott's St. Giles, Camberwell, 1844, and the art critic John Ruskin designed the windows at St Giles. Scott also won the competition to design the Albert Memorial,1862-1872. It has a gilded statue of Prince Albert below a Gothic canopy. It is near the Albert Hall and the V&A. In 1866-77 Scott designed the red brick Gothic facade of the Midland Grand Hotel at London's St. Pancras Station, recently restored.

In Oxford Scott designed a new Gothic chapel for Exeter College, 1856-59. He modelled the tall windows on St. Louis' Sainte Chapelle in Paris. He filled them with stained glass by Clayton and Bell.

William Butterfield changed his plans for All Saints Margaret Street, tel. 020 7636 1788, after the May 1849 publication of John Ruskin's The Seven Lamps of Architecture. The High Church journal, The Ecclesiologist approved of  Butterfield's use of 'constructional polychrome' of 'red and black brick arranged in patterns'.  The interior is richly decorated with coloured marbles, gilding etc. The painted tile pictures date from 1873  and 1889, the Chancel was redecorated by Comper in 1909.and 1919. The church is in London, near Oxford Circus. It is open daily from 7am-7pm.
Saint Augustine, Rudolf Road, Kilburn, was completed by Pearson in 1878 in the Early English Style.   


The Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand are of course open to the public as 'Justice has to be seen to be done.' They are a fine Gothic Revival building by G. E. Street completed in 1882, with a huge vaulted entrance hall like a cathedral. The monument to GE Street is just inside the main entrance on the right of the hall. Below his figure are carvings showing craftsmen for all the crafts for which Street made designs, including church embroidery.

The Guildhall Art Gallery off Gresham Street, City of London tel 020 7332 3700, has a fine collection of Victorian paintings

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, 01603 493625, A version of Burne-Jones's tapestry The Star of Bethlehem is shown in the Norman Keep and the Art Gallery also has a version of his Annunciation.

The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow is open  free and closed Sundays. It has many drawings and etchings by Whistler, his Butterfly Cabinet and furnished replicas of his own house, 1906-14, and of  his 1916 guest bedroom for 78 Derngate, Northampton. The Hunterian website has a new catalogue  with around 1500 images of the Hunterian's collection of Whistler's works More works by Whistler can be seen at the Freer Gallery in Washington DC, including his famous Peacock Room. Several works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh can  be seen in Glasgow, like the School of Art and the Willow Tea Rooms, and his Hill House NT is nearby.

 78 Derngate, Northampton, phone 01604 603407 to book a guided tour. Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed the furnishings for this terraced house in 1916-17. There is an exhibition in the house next door.

Leighton House Museum, tel 0207 6023316 ext. 300, 12 Holland Park Road, take Melbury Road, near the Odeon Cinema, from Kensington High Street. (Melbury Road contains Burges’s Tower House, 1878-81, which is not open to the public.) Leighton House was the home of Frederic Leighton, the President of the Royal Academy from 1878 to 1896. It contains his studio, a fine Arab Hall with Arab tiles and mosaics by Walter Crane and many drawings by him and by Burne-Jones. It is open daily, except on Tuesday, from 11am-5.30pm.

The Tate Gallery in London  has a number of Pre-Raphaelite paintings including Millais' painting of the drowning Ophelia.
A Teacher's pack with A4 colour illustrations of works by Millais including his little known landscapes was published by Tate Britain on its website for its Millais exhibition in 2007. The website also had extracts from Millais' Diary describing how he and Hunt had to make straw huts to paint in as it was so cold.  

Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, phone 01833 690606, The exhibits include a brightly coloured Gothic Revival wash stand by Burges worthy of comparison with his washstands in the V&A and in the Cecil Higgins Museum in Bedford..

The Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock, contains early photographs by Fox Talbot, Tel 01249 730459. Fox Talbot took some of the first photos at Lacock Abbey and the National Trust now owns the whole village of Lacock.

The Watts Gallery, Compton, near Guildford, phone 01483 810 235, is closed Thursdays. The Gallery has a number of paintings and sculptures by Watts. Nearby is the Mausoleum erected by his widow covered with sculpture in terracotta. 

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a fine collection of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites, including important early works by Burne-Jones.

The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, phone 0161 275 7450. The Walter Crane Family Archive is now stored at the Whitworth Gallery. It includes some of Crane's illustrations for Left Wing publications, such as the striking England to her own Rescue with a ragged woman and baby being rescued from the snake like coils of capitalistic greed.
Walter Crane had close connections with William Morris and the Socialist League and designed illustrations for its magazine The Commonweal, which was edited by Morris, who also asked Crane to illustrate one of his own works for his Kelmscott Press. Crane is mainly known today for his achievements in coloured wood block illustrations for children's Toy Books, like The Baby's Bouquet but he also designed painted tiles

Keble College, Oxford has a Chapel by William Butterfield, built in 1873-6 with polychrome brickwork and Holman Hunt's painting I Stand at the Door and Knock.   Holman Hunt can be considered as the most important of the founders of Pre-Raphaelitism and as the only one of the original founders not to abandon their laborious methods. His painting The Light of the World was largely painted out of doors in very cold weather.
A  world tour and many black and white prints made it one of the most popular Victorian works of art. He visited the Holy Land to paint The Scapegoat, which has a striking background of the Dead Sea, and The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple.

Click here for details of books on Victorian Paintings and on Waterhouse and Holman Hunt, linked to Amazon. 

Click on the links below for other places to visit

Morris Places to Visit        Burne-Jones Places to Visit

William Morris in the Cotswolds        Morris windows in Brighton

Places to see Pre-Raphaelite art       Kempe windows in Brighton

Pugin and the Gothic Revival Places to Visit        Burges Places to Visit