Archives & Library

Paul Joyce Archive

Paul Joyce (1934–2014) was an architectural draughtsman and historian with a life-long interest in the work of George Edmund Street (1824–1881), a leading architect of the Victorian Gothic Revival. The Centre holds Joyce’s archive, containing material compiled in the course of his research on G.E. Street and other Victorian architects. The archive is fully catalogued and available for research. This spotlight feature highlights original drawings from the archive and a representative sample of Joyce’s research.

George Edmund Street (1824–1881)

Photographic portrait of George Edmund Street sitting with legs crossed Born in Woodford, Essex. A principal shaper of the architectural style later called ‘High Victorian’, he was also one of the most thoughtful architectural writers of his day. In 1844, aged twenty, he joined the office of George Gilbert Scott, with fellow assistants George Frederick Bodley and William White. Together they played an important role in a swift reshaping of architectural taste.

In 1849, he established his own practice, first in London and then in Wantage, Berkshire. He served as Oxford diocesan architect from 1850 until his death, a post he also held in a number of other dioceses. In 1856, having begun to establish a national reputation, he returned to London, his principal residence for the rest of his life.

Street was a strenuous logician who, more effectively than any other architect of his generation, explained the rationale and modus operandi of eclectic design. He travelled widely, traversing France, Germany, and the Low Countries and following the footsteps of John Ruskin to northern Italy—all in the early 1850s. He reported on these travels with lectures and publications, and laid out his philosophical position in articles in The Ecclesiologist and two influential books on northern Italian and Spanish Gothic.

George Edmund Street is now less famous as an architect of the Gothic Revival than George Gilbert Scott, and less famous than Ruskin as a critic of continental Gothic, though he was arguably more talented than both”1

In his early use of polychromy Street was only a half-step behind William Butterfield, whose church of All Saints, Margaret Street, in London (1849–59), was the first large embodiment of the fashion. Street's greatest commission, the Royal Courts of Justice in London, was designed during the time when High Victorian tastes were waning.

He died before its completion at his home, 14 Cavendish Place, London, on 18 December 1881, after suffering two strokes. His death at the age of fifty-seven was surely hastened by the physical and emotional strain of work. Street was buried on 29 December in Westminster Abbey, near his old friend and former employer Sir Gilbert Scott, and beneath a brass designed by George Frederick Bodley, with whom he had worked in Scott's office. His only son, Arthur Edmund Street (d. 1938), oversaw the completion of many of his works

G.E. Street received all the honours of his profession. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1866 and a full member in 1871. In 1874 he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and in 1881, the year of his death, he served both as president of RIBA and as professor of architecture at the Royal Academy.2

  1. Butler, D. and Priest, S. The Man. In: J. Elliot and J. Pritchard, ed., George Edmund Street: a Victorian architect in Berkshire, pp.11–28, (Reading: Centre for Continuing Education, University of Reading, 1998).

  2. This description is largely based on: David B. Brownlee, ‘Street, George Edmund (1824–1881)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 7 Nov 2017]