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Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852)

Houses of Parliament seen at dusk

Designer: Barry, Sir Charles (1795-1860); Pugin, Augustus Welby Northmore (1812-1852)
Copyright: Pawel Libera / RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (2000)

The son of an émigré French architect who came to England to escape the revolution, Pugin is best remembered for his work on churches and the Houses of Parliament.


With his father, Pugin published a series of volumes of architectural drawings which became the standard references for Gothic architecture for 100 years.


By 1833 he was working with Sir Charles Barry on designs for King Edward’s School, Birmingham. This collaboration was followed in 1835-6 by detailed designs for Barry's entries in the competition to build the new Houses of Parliament. He converted to Catholicism, but also designed and refurbished Anglican as well as Catholic churches.


Pugin died very young, at the age of 40, probably from the effects of mercury poisoning. At the time of his death, it was thought he died of insanity.


Pugin's legacy extends far beyond his own architectural designs. He popularised a style and philosophy of architecture that influenced both John Ruskin and William Morris.


Pugin was never nominated for the Royal Gold Medal.