THE REGENCY AND AFTER
THE meaning of the word Regency, applied as an adjective to the arts, is often stretched to cover a good deal more than was produced during the nine years when the future George IV was Regent. In the heading of this chapter, however, it is used as a noun in its strict historical sense, to denote the period which began with the Regency Act of 1181 and ended with George III's death in 1820. "And after", in a book called "Stuart and Georgian Churches", should, I suppose, mean "until George IV's death", i.e., until 1830. However, there is everything to be said, from our point of view, for the inclusion of William IV's reign in the Georgian period. For the accession of Queen Victoria and the break-up of the classical tradition form one of those rare coincidences which seem to have been specially arranged for the convenience of historians of architecture.
1811 is not in itself a year of great significance. The war was still on, and few churches were being built. Another seven years were to pass before Parliament appointed a Commission, with a million pounds to spend, to "examine the state of the parishes and extra parochial places in the metropolis and its vicinity, and other parts of England and Wales, to ascertain in which additional churches and chapels are most required, and the most effectual means of affording such accommodation", and thus initiated the most ambitious and widespread church building movement that had been seen in this country since the Reformation.
The churches built between the beginning of the Regency and the passing of the "Million Act" may be dealt with briefly. Two of the most important, on any count, were St. Luke's, Liverpool, and St. Michael's, Pitt Street, in the same city. Both were from the hand of John Foster, who had been a pupil of James Wyatt, had travelled in Greece with C. R. Cockerell, and became architect and surveyor to the Corporation of Liverpool. St. Luke's, a Gothic church, was designed as early as 1802, but not begun until 1810, while the tower was finished in 1831. One of the masters of clichés and trite quotations who contributed the text of Pyne's Lancashire Illustrated wrote of it: "As a chaste specimen of the decorative Gothic order, this church may vie with any similar erection in the kingdom; while its sublime character, so consistent with the uses to which it is appropriated, points it out to every feeling mind as one of those hallowed spots
'Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault The pealing anthem swells the note of praise'."
For a more recent estimate of its qualities Mr. John Summerson may be quoted: "It is a rather harsh Gothic building and the tower, in spite