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Notes on the Geography of The United Kingdom: London 4: Albertopolis: Photo 6

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Here, perhaps, is a better or at least more conventional one. Pevsner writes: "This 'memorial of our Blameless prince' (Builder, 1863, p. 361) is the epitome in many ways of High Victorian ideals and High Victorian style, rich, solid, a little pompous, a little vulgar, but full of faith and self-confidence" (3:489). The designer was George Gilbert Scott, the Victorian master of the Gothic. He stated that the Albert Memorial expressed his "highest and most enthusiastic efforts." (See Scott's Personal and Professional Recollections, p. 269.) Among his contemporaries, opinions varied. Pevsner quotes M.D. Conway writing in 1882 that the memorial is "beyond question the finest monumental structure in Europe." Another critic dismissed it as "an uncomfortable feat of engineering." Early proposals included a monolithic obelisk 150 feet high--the Washington Monument is over 500--but Scott wanted a monument that honored the prince's religious faith. "This I effected," he wrote, "by adding to its apex, as is believed to have been done by the Egyptians, a capping of metal, that capping assuming the form of a large and magnificent cross" (Recollections, p. 262). In addition, he wrote, the monument was "the realization in an actual edifice, of the architectural designs furnished by the metal-work shrines of the middle ages. Those exquisite productions of the goldsmith and the jeweller profess in nearly every instance to be models of architectural structures, yet no such structures exist, nor, so far as we know, ever did exist... They are architecture as elaborated by the mind and the hand of the jeweller; an exquisite phantasy realized only to the small scale of a model. My notion, whether good or bad, was for once to realize this jeweller's architecture in a structure of full size, and this has furnished the key-note of my design and of its execution" (p. 263-4). He added, "The greatest fault in the design, in my own opinion, is that the fléche is too high" (p. 268).

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