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The door marked ‘Pull’: J. L. Pearson and his first clients in the East Riding of Yorkshire

  • Anthony Quiney


      The doors of success swing open wide,
      And the entrance hall is full:
      Some got in by the door marked ‘Push’
      But most by the door marked ‘Pull’.

Success crowned the careers of many early Victorian church architects. With Pugin’s ardent genius behind them and the Ecclesiologist’s proselytizing articles before them, such gifted architects as Butterfield and Pearson quickly filled the entrance hall.

Artistry is one thing: another is opportunity. Although they struck out buoyantly into the main stream of advancing taste, they needed sympathetic clients. In this respect, their affairs were immeasurably improved by the welling tide of Tractarianism. Pearson took it at the flood.



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1 The Hull Packet, 16 August 1844.

2 As I assumed from the evidence I had found by the time I completed John Loughborough Pearson (Yale University Press, 1979): see Chapter 3.

3 Quiney, Pearson, p. 5. Moreover, in both the 1881 and 1891 censuses Pearson again stated that he had been born in Belgium or Brussels, a ‘British Subject’: PRO RG11/140 and PRO RG12/93. The family tradition that the birthplace was Durham must have been his son Frank Loughborough Pearson’s invention.

4 Burlison, Clement, The early life of Clement Burlison, artist (Durham, 1914), pp. 1820 . The Times obituary of Pearson (13 December 1897, p. 8, 1 and 2) and most other accounts state that it was his father who placed him in Bonomi’s office.

5 Quiney, Pearson, pp. 5-6. Canon Townsend was appointed perpetual curate of St Margaret’s, Durham, in 1839 and resigned in 1842.

6 Quiney, Pearson, p. 6. For Townsend, see The Gentleman’s Magazine, 128 (1858), p. 101.

7 Quiney, Pearson, pp. 5-6, and information from Geoff Brandwood.

8 Quiney, Pearson, p. 169.

9 Lambeth Palace Library, Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS) file no. 3200.

10 According to Mrs Jorna; and not ‘six years beforehand’ as I said in Pearson, p. 20.

11 Jorna, Patricia, Ellerker, 150 years of church and village (Beverley, 1994), p. 22 .

12 Quiney, Pearson, pp. 15-16 and 26.

13 Information from Mrs Jorna.

14 Diary for 1842, in possession of Pearson’s great-grandson Mr Brian Morgan, whose whereabouts are now unknown to me: a transcript is in the possession of the author.

15 ICBS file 3200. Pearson’s 1842 diary has no mention of the Ellerker commission, and his 1843 diary is lost.

16 The Ecclesiohgist, 2 (1843), p. 165.

17 The Ecclesiohgist, 3 (1843), p. 29.

18 University of Durham, Palaeography and Diplomatic, Durham Chapter Acts, B8.

19 Hall, John George, A History of South Cave (Hull, 1892), p. 203 .

20 The Ecclesiohgist, 2 (1843), 165.

21 The Hull Packet, 16 August 1844.

22 Dictionary of National Biography, vide Robert Isaac Wilberforce.

23 The Times, 13 December 1897.

24 Details of all the following commissions are in Quiney, Pearson, pp. 238–89.

25 Dictionary of National Biography, vide Sir George Prevost (second baronet).

26 Quiney, Pearson, p. 41; see The Church Builder, 23 (1867), pp. 114-15.

27 Quiney, Pearson, p. 39, where Anderson is wrongly said to have introduced Pearson to Prevost, not vice versa. Anderson lay behind the choice of Pearson to restore the Norman vaults of Stow-in-Lindsay church. For Anderson see Sir George Prevost’s memoir of him in SirAnderson, Charles Henry John, A short guide to the County of Lincoln (3rd edn, London, 1892), and information from Geoff Brandwood.

28 Information from Brandwood, Geoff, and The Builder, 3 (1845), p. 23 .

29 The Builder, 6 (1848), p. 375.

30 Colvin, Howard, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1830 (New Haven and London, 1995), p. 257 .

31 The Ecclesiologist, 13 (1852), pp. 409-12.

32 Quiney, Pearson, p. 27. The ledger, like Pearson’s diaries, is in the possession of Pearson’s great-grandson; a copy is in the possession of the author.

33 Quiney, Anthony, ‘Treberfydd, the Raikes family, and their architect, John Loughborough Pearson’, Brycheiniog, 23 (1988-89), pp. 6574 .

34 Hippisley, Alfred Edward, Some notes on the Hippisley family (ed. and expanded by Jones, I. F., Taunton, 1952).

35 Jorna, Ellerker, pp. 39-44.

36 Quiney, Pearson, pp. 79-82.

37 Quiney, Anthony, ‘The church of St Augustine, Kilburn, and its builders’, Anniversary Address 1991, Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, 36 (1992), pp. 112 .

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The door marked ‘Pull’: J. L. Pearson and his first clients in the East Riding of Yorkshire

  • Anthony Quiney


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