Albury Park. Remodelled by A.W. Pugin. c. 1846-52. Albury, Surrey. Photograph and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. 2008. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL.]

Like nearby Wotton House, Albury Park was a rambling old manor house much altered over the years — once by Sir John Soane in 1800. Then in 1819, it was acquired by the wealthy banker, politician and religious enthusiast Henry Drummond. When Drummond decided to improve it, he chose the architect who had previously redecorated the transept of the nearby Saxon church of St Peter and St Paul. This was A. W. Pugin. Over several years, Pugin made "major alterations" to the mansion (Albury: A Short Guide 11). He added a Tudor façade, complete with battlements, gables and a grand total of 63 differently decorated chimneys, all copied from Tudor originals. The effect has been found "unconvincing"; indeed, the outside elevations have been criticised as "some of the worst things Pugin ever did" (Nairn and Pevsner 93). To some people, the mansion at Albury Park is "unconvincing" in another way, too. Could Pugin really have been responsible for this rather ordinary-looking building with its splashes of Gothic whimsy (those 63 chimneys, for instance)? Rosemary Hill gives him a loophole by suggesting that the work was mostly done "without Pugin's supervision" by his builder, George Myers (501), but in fact "Myers (1804-75) was the builder whom Pugin employed wherever possible" (Belcher 1: 109, n.9), and who, the architect felt, "perfectly understands my principles of work — & my drawings" (2: 4). Anyway, Albury Park is definitely appreciated by local people, and is now offers exclusive retirement apartments as well as facilities for conferences and other events.

Note

Henry Drummond was one of the founders and "apostles" of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Albury Park therefore became a centre for the meetings of this sect (the members were also known as Irvingites, after the preacher Edward Irving). A church for it, funded by Drummond and built around 1840, can also be found in Albury — closed now but still in good repair, according to the Albury guidebook listed below. There are still some adherents to this sect. See also the note at the end of the excerpt from Thackeray's "Caution in Changing Religion."

Sources

Albury: A Short Guide to the Parish. The Albury Trust, rpt. 1998.

Belcher, Margaret, ed. The Collected Letters of A. W. N. Pugin. Vol. I: 1830-1842. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

———Belcher, Margaret, ed. The Collected Letters of A. W. N. Pugin. Vol. II: 1843-1845. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Hill, Rosemary. God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008.

Jordan, Robert Furneaux. Victorian Architecture. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1966.

Nairn, Ian and Nikolaus Pevsner, Nikolaus. The Buildings of England: Surrey. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2nd ed. 1971.


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Last modified 31 August 2008