This topic reminds us of Lewis Carroll’s monograph “On the Architectural Merit of the New Belfry, Christ Church.” Highly recommended reading on this day, when words fail us.
From Lewis Carroll – Charles Dodgson correspondence. Here is the key line from this salutary essay: “§ 5. On the other architectural merits of the new Belfry, Ch. Ch. The Belfry has no other architectural merits.”
Highly recommend that you read the entire essay to improve your mental health.
Another excellent commentary may be inaccessible to most readers. An article by Caroline Dionne in the Montreal Architectural Review, p. 36, gives background of profound changes affecting thinking about language, including criticism of architecture, in the Victorian era.
IFO had to fib a bit to get into the actual article, but it was worth the effort. Here’s an excerpt:
The architectural transformation under scrutiny in Carroll’s pamphlets is the construction of the new bell tower, or Belfry, at Christ Church College (1872-1879). Commissioned by Dean Henry Liddell in the early 1870’s, the project was designed by controversial Gothic-revival architect George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878) and executed by his former student George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907).
It was seen as an important milestone, one that would end a 350-year process of building at Christ Church. As it touched upon the most pristine parts of the building, altering the physical appearance of the college as it was experienced from the main quadrangle, Tom Quad, as well as its relationship to Christ Church Chapel and to the town, the proposed transformation was from the very beginning extremely controversial.
Happy reading on this otherwise not-so-happy day.