Contract drawing for alterations to the chapel, Wellington Barracks, London

Contract drawing for alterations to the chapel, Wellington Barracks, London

This drawing is part of the contract drawings for the reconstruction of the interior of the Royal Military Chapel of the Wellington Barracks. The Barracks, erected in a Greek Revival style in 1838, serve as the headquarters of the Foot Guard Battalions in London. George Edmund Street reconstructed the chapel's interior in an Italian Romanesque style between 1876 and 1879. The chapel, also known as the Guards Chapel, was struck by a V1 rocket on 18 June 1944 and rebuilt in a modern style in 1962-1963.

Street's drawing reflects his dedication to detail and skills as a draughtsman. He said, 'Three-fourths of the poetry of a building lies in its minor details,' and believed the architect was responsible for creating coherency between a building's exterior and the form and function of its interior.

Street was a skilled artist, as reflected in drawings such as this and in his illustrations of Brick and Marble in the Middle Ages. Street often drew in ink and very rarely altered or erased his lines. His dedication to detail and artistic skills were reflected in his relationship with students and apprentices. Richard Norman Shaw noted, 'I am certain that during the whole time I was with him I never designed one moulding.'

Street was a devout High Anglican, and his style reflected both his religious devotion and his early exposure to the Puginian phase of the Gothic Revival and its emphasis on historicism. In 1845 he was elected a member of the Ecclesiological Society, which was formed to: 'promote the study of Christian art and antiquities, more especially in whatever relates to the architecture, arrangement and decoration, of churches; the recognition of correct principles and taste in the erection of new churches; and the restoration of ancient ecclesiastical remains.' He was appointed Diocesan Architect to the Oxford Diocesan Church Building Society in 1850.

Street's work on the Guards Chapel interior included rich marble mosaics and painted glass. In 1940, the chapel's roof caught fire and collapsed as the result of incendiary bombs. A new roof had been built and restoration work on the chapel's interior was underway when a V1 rocket struck the chapel in 1944.

Sources:
Elliott, Jon and John Pritechard, eds. George Edmund Street: a Victorian Architect in Berkshire. University of Reading: Reading (1998).

'The Royal Military Chapel, Wellington Barracks, S.W.' The Builder, Vol. 166 (23 June 1944), pp. 498-502.