Cultural History of Britain Some definitions


Part of its admiration for the classical style Georgian architecture was influence by



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Part of its admiration for the classical style Georgian architecture was influence by Palladianism, a philosophy of design based on the writings and work of Andreas Palladio, an Italian architect of the 16th century who tried to recreate the style and proportions of the buildings of ancient Rome. Consequently Georgian architecture was characterized by proportion and balance; simple mathematical ratios were used to determine the height of a window in relation to its width or the shape of a room as a double cube. “Regular” was a term of approval, implying symmetry and adherence to classical rules. Regularity of housefronts along a street was a desirable feature of Georgian town planning. Commonly used colours were red, tan, or white. However, modern day Georgian style homes use a variety of colours. Georgian style was usually defined by reddish brick walls that contrasted with white used for window trimming and cornices. The entrances were often emphasized by a portico (oszlopos előcsarnok).

  • The type of building which most characterized the Georgian period was the Town House, often, though not always, joined end to end to create “terraces”. Terraces took several forms; often laid out in straight lines, but also in squares around a central garden space, or in crescents or oval “circuses”. The 18th century was a time of great urban growth, thus the density of settlement in towns meant that there was a need to pack a lot of houses into a small space. This need gave birth to the terrace, which allowed a whole street to be given a sense of architectural wholeness, while keeping the size of houses small. In fashionable Bath, where local stone was plentiful, brick was used less frequently. Walls between houses were built thick to prevent the spread of fire. These dividing walls carried the weight of the chimney stacks. Most terraces were four stories high, and the front door was accessed by a short flight of stairs. The most important rooms were on the first floor. Windows were almost exclusively sash-windows (tolóablak), made of standardized panes of glass divided by thin, delicate wooden glazing bars. The pattern of windowing was the same everywhere; on the ground floor windows were kept short, for stability of the house structure. First floor windows were tall and elegantly expansive, second floor windows shorter, and top floor windows almost square. Front doors are panelled, with a semi-circular fanlight (szellőzőablak) above. See Appendix 1 Section G.

  • Georgian Architecture was widely disseminated in the English colonies of the time. In the American colonies, colonial Georgian blended with the neo-Palladian style to become known more broadly as Federal style architecture. Georgian buildings were also constructed of wood with clapboards; even columns were made of timber

  • The 18th century saw a swing from Renaissance formality to a more “natural” look of carefully calculated vistas with temples, statues, and classical ornaments punctuating openings in treed parkland. Lines were no longer straight, paths curve and wander, and parterres are replaced by grass. Trees were planted in clusters rather than in straight lines, and rounded lakes replaced the rectangular ponds of the earlier style. The garden became open, a park joining the house to the outside world rather than a carefully nurtured refuge from it. This natural style begun by William Kent evolved into the “landscape garden” and had an enormous effect upon the course of English gardening and architectural style. The landscape garden made the English country house a part of the fields and farmlands surrounding it. Gone were hedgerows and fences. Gone, too, were formal beds and walks. Grass parkland was brought right up to the doors of the house, like in the example of the garden at Chiswick House, London. See Appendix 1 Section G.




    • In the 18th century, English painting finally developed a distinct style and tradition again, still concentrating on portraits and landscapes, but also attempting to find a successful approach to history painting, regarded as the highest of the hierarchy of genres.

    • One of the first major English painters (and besides that a printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic and editorial cartoonist) was William Hogarth. His work ranged from excellent realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called “modern moral subjects”. Much of his work, though at times vicious, poked fun at contemporary politics and customs. Hogarth’s range of inquiry was extremely wide, touching upon topics from everyday life as well as upon more theoretical debates. In his paintings he would reflect upon the ills of the modern city, the dignity of and the dangers faced by professional women, and issues of theatricality, race, class, and taste. He drew from the highly moralizing Protestant tradition of Dutch genre painting, and the very vigorous satirical traditions of the English broadsheet and other types of popular print. In England the fine arts had little comedy in them before Hogarth, his satirical engravings are often considered an important ancestor of the comic strip. See Appendix 2 Section A.

    • Leading portraitists were Sir Joshua Reynolds founder of the Royal Academy of Arts, Thomas Gainsborough. Joseph Wright of Derby was well known for his minute candlelight pictures, George Stubbs for his animal paintings.

    • Sir Joushua Reynolds, portrait painter and aesthetician, dominated English artistic life in the middle and late 18th century. Through his art and teaching, he attempted to lead British painting away from the indigenous anecdotal pictures of the early 18th century toward the formal rhetoric of the continental Grand Style. Reynolds preferred the company of men of letters to that of his fellow artists and was friends with Samuel Johnson, and Edmund Burke among others. Some of his finest portraits are those of his intimate friends and of fashionable women of questionable reputation. In his art critical inquiries Reynolds outlined the essence of grandeur in art and suggested the means of achieving it through rigorous academic training and study of the old masters of art. Appendix 2 Section A

    • Thomas Gainsborough was the most inventive and original portrait and landscape painter of the 18th century, always prepared to experiment with new ideas and techniques. He was for example the only important English portrait painter to devote much time to landscape drawing. He composed a great many drawings in a variety of mediums including chalk, pen and wash, and watercolour. Some of his early portraits owe something to the style of Anthony Van Dyck (“The Blue Boy,” c. 1770). His landscapes are of idyllic scenes. During his last years he also painted seascapes and idealized full-size pictures of rustics and country children. Gainsborough was noticed by the royal family and partly because of his informality and Tory politics was preferred by George III above the official court painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds. Unlike Reynolds, he was no great believer in an academic tradition and laughed at the fashion for history painting; an instinctive painter, he delighted in the poetry of paint. His comments on his own work and methods, as well as on some of the old masters, are very revealing and throw considerable light on contemporary views of art. Appendix 2 Section A

    • Joseph Wright of Derby was closely associated with the best scientist of his time. He is notable for his use of Chiaroscuro effect, which emphasises the contrast of light and dark, and for his paintings of candle-lit subjects. His paintings of the birth of science out of alchemy, often based on the meetings of the Lunar Society, a group of very influential scientists and industrialists living in the English Midlands, are a significant record of the struggle of science against religious values in the period known as the Enlightenment. George Stubbs produced a wide range of individual and group portraits of horses, sometimes accompanied by hounds, later he became preoccupied with the theme of a wild horse threatened by a lion and produced several variations on this theme. See Appendix 2 Section A.

    • William Blake was originally a professional engraver, a skill he practiced till the end of his life. His drawing style was influenced by the Classical precision of Michelangelo and Raphael. In his early thirties Blake began to experiment with relief etching, a method he would use to produce most of his books, paintings, pamphlets and of course his poems, including his longer ‘prophecies’ and his masterpiece the “Bible”. The process is also referred to as illuminated printing, and final products as illuminated books or prints. The pages printed from the relief etching method had to be hand-coloured in water colours and stitched together to make up a volume. Blake used illuminated printing for most of his well-known works, including Songs of Innocence and Experience, The Book of Thel, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and Jerusalem.

    • The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in 1768 by a group of artists headed by portrait painter Joshua Reynolds. Under Reynolds, the academy functioned as a school aimed at teaching drawing, painting, and sculpture to young artists. Although the academy was officially under the patronage of King George III (hence the “Royal” in the title), it received no official funding beyond the initial grant for small premises in Pall Mall, and was free to operate in its own way. Academy classes were provided free of charge, and scholarships were available to help needy students and to provide opportunities to pursue studies abroad. Lacking royal funding, the academy survived by charging attendance fees for public exhibitions of work by members. Aside from its stated aims as an art school, the Academy offered aspiring artists the chance to make a name for themselves. The Royal Academy today is one of the most prestigious art galleries in the world.




    • Classical composer Joseph Haydn visited England twice from which he gained both financially and musically. The visits resulted in some of Haydn’s best-known work, including the Surprise, Military, Drumroll, and London symphonies and the Rider quartet.


    Early 19th Century and the Victorian period

    • The period of architecture we can loosely term Regency spans the first thirty years of the 19th century. In many respects it is a natural continuation of the Georgian style which preceded it. There were two major streams of architectural styles popular in the Regency period. The first, which lived on far into the Victorian period, was one of medieval revival. This is often termed Victorian Gothic, or more accurately, Gothic Revival. This style was based on medieval architecture, in particular the Gothic churches of the late 13th and early 14th century. In a way it was a romantic yearning for the traditional, comforting past. Architects like James Wyatt, emulated the Gothic tracery and other decorative elements of the Gothic period, but used more modern methods of construction and substituted cheaper materials. Thus, many Gothic Revival buildings used stucco (díszvakolat) in place of medieval stone, and strengthened fanciful Gothic curves with hidden iron struts (támfa).

    • The real breakthrough for Gothic Revival came with A.W.N. Pugin and his admiration towards everything Gothic, not only for medieval art but the whole medieval ethos, claiming that Gothic architecture was the product of a purer society. He suggested that modern craftsmen imitating the style of medieval workmanship should also reproduce its methods. Most famous building is The Houses of Parliament in London, which he designed in two campaigns, 1836–1837 and again in 1844 and 1852, with the classicist Charles Barry as his co-architect. Pugin provided the external decoration and the interiors, while Barry designed the symmetrical layout of the building. Besides Pugin, art critic John Ruskin was also a devout admirer of the Gothic style. He proposed that Gothic buildings excelled above all other architecture because of the “sacrifice” of the stone-carvers in intricately decorating every stone. By declaring the Doge’s Palace to be the central building of the world, Ruskin argued the case for Gothic government buildings as Pugin had done for churches. His ideas were put into practice in buildings such as Oxford University Museum of Natural History. See Appendix 1 Section H.

    • Gothic Revival in England also became subject of an ideological debate. Representatives of the ecclesiological movement believed that Gothic was the only style appropriate for a parish church, and favoured a particular era of Gothic architecture — the “decorated”. However, not every architect or client was swept away by this tide. Although Gothic Revival succeeded in becoming an increasingly familiar style of architecture, the attempt to associate it with the notion of high church superiority, as advocated by Pugin and the ecclesiological movement, was unacceptable to those with nonconformist principles. They looked to adopt Gothic solely for its aesthetic romantic qualities, to combine it with other styles, or look to northern Europe for Gothic of a more plain appearance.

    • The Victorian Gothic style is easy to pick out from the original medieval. One of the reasons for this was a lack of trained craftsmen to carry out the necessary work. Original medieval building was time-consuming and labour-intensive. Yet there was a large pool of labourers skilled in the necessary techniques; techniques which were handed down through the generations that it might take to finish a large architectural project. Victorian Gothic builders lacked that pool of skilled labourers to draw upon, so they were eventually forced to evolve methods of mass-producing decorative elements.

    • Vernacular adaptations of Gothic include Carpenter Gothic that became popular in North America in the late nineteenth century where houses and small churches in such style were built. These structures adapted Gothic elements such as pointed arches, steep gables, and towers to traditional American light-frame construction. See Appendix 1 Section H.

    • The second, and more popular style of Regency architecture, was classical in nature. The Regency period saw a great surge of interest in classical Greece, popularized by men like Lord Byron and his outspoken advocacy of Greek nationalism. A whole generation of aristocratic amateur archaeologists from Britain fled the Greek world. The resulting popularity of Greek style reached beyond architecture to include painting, furniture, interior decoration, and even dress design. Thus it is no surprising that Regency architecture the philosophy and traditional designs of Greek and Roman (and sometimes Egyptian) architecture. The typical Regency upper or middle-class house was built in brick and covered in stucco or painted plaster (gipszvakolat). Fluted (bordázott) Greek columns, painted and carefully moulded (tagozott) cornices (párkányzat) and other decorative touches, were all reproduced in cheap stucco. The key words to describe the overall effect are “refined elegance”.

    • The most characteristic Regency designs survive today in terrace housing. Many of the more upper class terraces, such as those designed by John Nash surrounding Regents Park in London, are entered through triumphal arches reminiscent of ancient Rome, These arches, generally in stucco, lead to grand rows of houses, with carefully balanced pediments (uimpanon) fronted by massive pilaster columns. The best remaining terraces built in this grand style are in London and Brighton. As the illustrations reveal balconies were of extremely fine ironwork, made of such delicate curves as to seem almost too frail to support the structure. Also proportions are kept simple, relying on clean, classical lines for effect rather than decorative touches. See Appendix 1 Section H.

    • One of the most remarkable achievements of 19th century British architecture was The Crystal Palace designed by Joseph Paxton, who had been the head gardener at Chatsworth, in Derbyshire. There he had experimented with glass and iron in the creation of large greenhouses, and had seen something of their strength and durability, knowledge that he applied to the plans for the Great Exhibition building. Planners had been looking for strength, durability, simplicity of construction and speed – this is why they choose to rely on Paxton’s ideas.

    • The Victorian age, the age of industrial revolution and dirty city slums, was also the age of a popular explosion of interest in that most British of occupations, gardening. And not just as a private pastime. For the first time, a concerted (összehangolt) effort was made by authorities to provide extensive public gardens. They believed that gardens would decrease drunkenness and improve the manners of the lower classes. Intellectuals and the upper classes also encouraged gardening as means of decreasing social unrest. Examples include the Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Regent’s Park.

    • In the Victorian era massed beds of flowers (bedding out plants raised in greenhouses), exotic colours, and intricate designs. The most grandiose garden of the era was Kew opened to the public in 1841. Soon the Palm House was built, a result of improved glass and iron manufacturing techniques. The expanding British Empire opened up far-flung corners of the globe to avid gardeners, and a sort of collector-mania spread throughout Britain. Botanists searched the globe for new and exotic plants to bring home. One of the results of this frenzy of collecting was another craze, bedding out plants (palántákat átültet/kiültet). The bedding out craze, together with improved greenhouse design, resulted in a fashion for massed beds of colourful plants laid out in mosaic patterns.




    • The Arts and Crafts Movement began primarily as a search for authentic and meaningful styles for the 19th century and as a reaction to the eclectic revival of historic styles of the Victorian era and also to machine-made production spreaded by the Industrial Revolution. Considering the machine to be the root cause of all repetitiveness and routine in the arts, representative figures of this movement turned entirely away from the use of machines and towards handcraft. The Movement was inspired by the writings of John Ruskin and a romantic idealization of the craftsman taking pride in his personal handiwork, its height was between approximately 1880 and 1910. It influenced British and American architecture, decorative arts, cabinet making, crafts, and even the garden designs

    • Although the Arts and Crafts movement was in large part a reaction to industrialization, if looked at on the whole, it was neither anti-industrial nor anti-modern. Those who sought compromise between the efficiency of the machine and the skill of the craftsman thought it a useful endeavour to seek the means through which a true craftsman could master a machine instead of becoming slaves to them. There were also socialist undertones to this movement, in that another primary aim was for craftspeople to derive satisfaction from what they did. In fact, member of the Arts and Crafts movement were against the principle of a division of labour, which in some cases could be independent of the presence or absence of machines. They were in favour of the idea of the master craftsman, creating all the parts of an item of furniture, for instance, and also taking a part in its assembly and finishing, with some possible help by trainees. The true goal was enabling the designer work with his hands at every step of creation. William Morris, a leader of the movement was more than willing to design products for machine production, when this did not involve the division of labour and loss of craft talent, which he denounced. Morris designed numerous carpets for machine production in series. Appendix 2 Section B.

    • Neither artist nor architect, Morris nevertheless had enormous influence in both arenas. He set up a company which encouraged the revival of traditional crafts such as stained glass painting, and Morris himself single-handedly recreated the art of tapestry weaving in Britain. Many of his patterns became used for such household objects such as wallpaper and bathroom tiles, furniture, textiles, wallpaper, decorative glass, and murals. He was also involved in the improvement of printing and book design. Morris also published poetry, series of fantasy novels and translations. As we shall see later he had close ties with the artistic movement, called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.




    • As for painting the 19th century produced some of Britain’s most talented artists. John Constable is known principally for his landscape paintings. He set out in the manner of Gainsborough, but later developed his own original treatment portraying render scenery more directly and realistically. Just as his contemporary William Wordsworth rejected what he called the ‘poetic diction’ of his predecessors, so Constable turned away from the pictorial conventions of 18th-century landscape painters who, he said, were always ‘running after pictures and seeking the truth at second hand’. In short, he quietly rebelled against the artistic culture that taught artists to use their imagination to compose their pictures rather than nature itself. Constable quietly rebelled against the artistic culture that taught artists to use their imagination to compose their pictures rather than nature itself. Constable worked extensively in the open air, drawing and sketching in oils, but his finished pictures were produced in the studio. He painted many full-scale preliminary sketches (vázlat) of his landscapes in order to test the composition in advance of finished pictures. These large sketches, with their free and vigorous brushwork, were revolutionary at the time, and they continue to interest artists, scholars and the general public. Constable completed numerous observational studies of landscapes and clouds, determined to become more scientific in his recording of atmospheric conditions. To the sky studies he added notes, often on the back of the sketches, of the prevailing weather conditions, direction of light, and time of day, believing that the sky was “the key note, the standard of scale, and the chief organ of sentiment” in a landscape painting. Appendix 2 Section B.

    • The main representative of Romanticism in the visual arts is J.M.V. Turner was a landscape painter, a watercolorist and printmaker, whose style can be said to have laid the foundation for Impressionism. At first Turner showed an interest in architecture but was advised to keep to painting. Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre in Paris in the same year. He also made many visits to Venice. Suitable vehicles for Turner’s imagination were to be found in the subjects of shipwrecks (hajótörés), fires (such as the burning of Parliament in 1834, an event which Turner rushed to witness first-hand, and which he transcribed in a series of watercolour sketches), natural catastrophes, and natural phenomena such as sunlight, storm, rain, and fog. He was fascinated by the violent power of the sea. Turner placed human beings in many of his paintings to indicate his affection for humanity on the one hand, but its vulnerability (sebezhetőség) and vulgarity (közönségesség) amid the ‘sublime’ nature of the world on the other hand. ‘Sublime’ here means savage grandeur, a natural world unmastered by man, evidence of the power of God – a theme that Romantic artists and poets were exploring. The significance of light was to Turner the emanation of God’s spirit and this was why he refined the subject matter of his later paintings by leaving out solid objects and detail, concentrating on the play of light on water, the radiance (ragyogás) of skies and fires. Although these late paintings appear to be ‘impressionistic’ and therefore a forerunner of the French school, Turner was striving for expression of spirituality in the world, rather than responding primarily to optical phenomena. Appendix 2 Section B

    • As an aspiring poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti wished to develop the links between Romantic poetry and with two friends and fellow-artists, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt she founded The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. Soon other painters, sculptors and critics joined in. Their stated aim was (1) to have genuine ideas to express; (2) to study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them; (3) to sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote; and, most indispensable of all, (4) to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues. They furthermore agreed to signed works with their name and “PRB”. Members of the Brotherhood were particularly fascinated by medieval culture, believing it to possess a spiritual and creative integrity lost in later eras. This emphasis on medieval culture was to clash with the realism promoted by the stress on independent observation of nature. In its early stages the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood believed that the two interests were consistent with one another, but in later years the movement divided in two directions. The realist side was led by Hunt and Millais, while the medievalist side was led by Rossetti and his followers. Most art critics of the time were attacked the Pre-Raphaelites, nevertheless it found support from the critic John Ruskin, who praised their devotion to nature and rejection of conventional methods of composition. He continued to support their work both financially and in his writings. Appendix 2 Section B.

    • James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born, British-based painter and etcher. Averse to sentimentality in painting, he was a leading supporter of the of “art for art’s sake” which expresses a philosophy that the intrinsic (belső) value of art, and the only “true” art, is divorced from any didactic, moral or utilitarian (gyakorlati) function. Whistler furthermore believed that that art should essentially be concerned with the beautiful arrangement of colours in harmony, not with the accurate portrayal of the natural world. He also kept close relations with notable figures such as Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Gustave Courbet and Oscar Wilde, but many of these friendships went astray.

    • The 19th century saw the establishment of two important classical music societies. In 1813 the London Philharmonic Society was set up, which played an important role in the development of musical life in the country. Under their aegis of its founders (including Sir George Smart, Johann Baptist Cramer, Muzio Clementi, William Ayrton) an annual programme of concerts of international standard was established. Within a decade musical training was placed on a newly professional footing by the 1822 creation of the Royal Academy of Music, which received a royal charter in 1830. It was founded by Dr William Crotch (composer of oratorios), and the pianist-composer Cipriani Potter (first London performer of Mozart and Beethoven concerti) Through the Philharmonic Society Felix Mendelssohn seized the national musical taste in a craze which lasted for almost twenty years. The flavour of his choral works, especially Elijah and St Paul permanently influenced English taste. Furthermore, most British piano students of promise were sent to the Leipzig Conservatory established by Mendelssohn.

    • Native singers shared the dramatic stage with international stars in Italian and German opera. This century saw the trend towards larger orchestras and correspondingly larger musical venues, permitting public concerts for mass audiences. The Crystal Palace concerts were inaugurated in 1855. The increasing scale of operatic and dramatic productions, and the increasing taste for sacred drama, oratorio and cantata, marked the later 19th century and characterised the provincial Festivals. Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan is probably the best known English composer of the period highly acclaimed for his operatic collaborations with librettist W. S. Gilbert. Sullivan’s artistic output included 23 operas, 13 orchestral works, eight choral or oratorio works, two ballets, incidental music to several plays, and numerous hymns and other church pieces, songs, parlour ballads, part songs, carols, and piano and chamber pieces.

    • Between 1880 and 1887 the London Guildhall School of Music was established. The Royal College of Music, originating in a Training school under Arthur Sullivan, was founded (1882-83) and became home to the genius of C Hubert H Parry. His reformation of British music progressed along several fronts, not least in anthems, cantatas (e.g. Prometheus Unbound, Gloucester), in four symphonies, in chamber music and in composed song. The emergence of a ‘national’ style in late nineteenth century classical music in the United Kingdom paralleled similar developments in most European countries, for instance in the music of Smetana, Dvorak, Grieg, Franz Liszt, Wagner, Carl Nielsen and Sibelius. English folk-music connections were more widely rediscovered and reinfused (beáramoltat) into the classical materials mainly after 1900, though the work of Sabine Baring-Gould and Cecil Sharp had already blossomed before the end of the century.




    • 19th century Britain gave birth to many physicists who would change the way people thought about natural phenomena. Michael Faraday was an English chemist and physicist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices formed the foundation of electric motor technology, and it was largely due to his efforts that electricity became viable for use in technology. Faraday also laid down the principles to construct the electric dynamo, the ancestor of modern power generators. A friend and colleague of Faraday was James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish physicist, who is regarded by twentieth and twenty-first century physicists to have been one of the most significant figures of the nineteenth century. His work fundamentally changed conceptions of electromagnetism and introduced the basis of field theory. He is also known for his work on thermodynamics and the kinetic theory of gases. His theoretical inquiries (resulting in the so called Maxwell equation and the Maxwell distribution). These two discoveries made modern physics possible, laying the foundation for future work in such fields as special relativity and quantum mechanics. He is also known for creating the first true colour photograph in 1861. James Prescott Joule was an English physicist (and brewer). Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work (see energy). This led to the theory of conservation of energy, which led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics stating that “The increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added by heating the system, minus the amount lost as a result of the work done by the system on its surroundings”. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after him. He worked with Lord Kelvin to develop the absolute scale of temperature.

    • Charles Darwin was an English naturalist, undoubtedly the most controversial researcher of the Victorian period. After becoming eminent among scientists for his field work and inquiries into geology, he proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from one or a few common ancestors through the process of natural selection. His theories concerning evolution and natural selection were based on empirical data collected during his extensive travels around the world, including South America and Australia. Relying on the acquired data he could propose a logical explanation for the evolution and diversity of life which he published in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. After the publication of his journal of the voyage made Darwin famous as a popular author. Popular acceptance of his scientific arguments took a long time. The Church of England scientific establishment, including Darwin’s old Cambridge reacted against the book though it was well received by a younger generation of professional naturalists. Thomas Henry Huxley, biologist and anatomist, was one of the chief advocator of Darwin’s theories, who would take part in many public debates in defence of the theory of evolutionary biology. He was also the first member of a family of highly acknowledged scientists (and grandfather to novelist Aldous Huxley).



    The XXth and XXIst Century

    • The most important trends in early 20th century architecture simply passed Britain by. While Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus, and Le Corbusier was experimenting with the use of reinforced concrete frames, England had sober establishment architects like Edwin Lutyens who is known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses and was instrumental in the design and building of New Delhi, the new capital of India. In addition there were slightly eccentric architect-craftsmen, the heirs of William Morris, still trying to turn the clock back to before the Industrial Revolution by making chairs and spurning new technology. Only a handful of Modern Movement buildings of any real merit were produced here during the 1920s and 1930s, and most of these were the work of foreign architects such as Serge Chermayeff, Berthold Lubetkin and Erno Goldfinger who had settled in this country. Some architects responded to modernism, and economic circumstances, by producing stripped down versions of traditional styles; the work of Giles Gilbert Scott illustrates this well. He was noted for his blending of Gothic tradition with modernism, making what might have been functionally designed buildings into popular landmarks. His designs include the red telephone boxes, a common sight in many towns and cities around the UK. Appendix 2 Section C

    • After the Second World War the situation began to change. The Modern Movement’s belief in progress and the future struck a chord with the mood of post-war Britain and, as reconstruction began under Attlee’s Labour government in 1945, there was a desperate need for cheap housing which could be produced quickly. In the immediate post-War years many thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of council houses in mock-vernacular style were built, giving working class people their first experience of private gardens and indoor sanitation. The use of prefabricated elements, metal frames, concrete cladding (burkolat) and the absence of decoration – all of which had been embraced by Modernists abroad and viewed with suspicion by the British – were adapted to varying degrees for housing developments and schools. Significant movements in this era included the British ‘New Brutalism’ style such as the Barbican Arts Centre. Appendix 2 Section C

    • Local authorities, charged with the task of rebuilding city centres, became important patrons of architecture. This represented a shift away from the private individuals who had dominated the architectural scene for centuries. Since the War it has been corporate bodies like these local authorities, together with national and multinational companies, and large educational institutions, which have dominated British architecture. Many Modernist-inspired town centres considered unappealing by some, are today in the process of being redeveloped by local authorities. By the late 1980s the Modern Movement, unfairly blamed for the social experiments implicit in high-rise housing, had lost out to post-modernism, with its cheerful borrowings from anywhere and any period.

    • The changes that have been made to the London Docklands in the past 25 years have been among the most striking and most dynamic developments in the world. The London Docklands Development Corporation (1981-1998) played a huge role in the area’s transformation, turning what used to be industrial wasteland into a vibrant area for commerce, residential life, and tourism. The area of the Docklands is over eight and a half square miles, all of which have been affected by the new developments in businesses and transportation. Appendix 2 Section C

    • Modernism remained a significant force in British architecture, although its influence was felt predominantly in non-domestic buildings. The two most prominent proponents were Richard Rogers and Norman Foster. Rogers’ iconic London buildings are probably Lloyd’s Building and the Millennium Dome, while Foster created the Swiss Re Buildings (nicknamed The Gherkin). Appendix 2 Section C




    • The major modern art movement at the beginning of the 20th century was Vorticism which counted among its members important artists such as Sir Jacob Epstein, Wyndham Lewis, David Bomberg and others. Though the style grew out of Cubism, it is more closely related to Futurism in its embrace of dynamism, the machine age and all things modern. However, Vorticism diverged from Futurism in the way that it tried to capture movement in an image. In a Vorticist painting modern life is shown as an array of bold lines and harsh colours drawing the viewer's eye into the centre of the canvas. Appendix 2 Section C

    • The reaction to the horrors of the First World War prompted a return to pastoral subjects as represented by Paul Nash. At the outbreak of World War I, Nash enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles and was sent to the Western Front. He was soon declared an official war artist by the War Propaganda Bureau. Nash used his opportunity as a war artist to bring home the full horrors of the conflict. His paintings are some of the most powerful and enduring images of the Great War painted by an English artist. Nash was also a pioneer of modernism in Britain, promoting the avant-garde European styles of abstraction and surrealism in the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II Nash was employed by the Ministry of Information and the Air Ministry. Beside war themes Nash found much inspiration in the English landscape, particularly landscapes with a sense of ancient history, such as burial mounds, Iron Age hill forts. Appendix 2 Section C

    • Sir Henry Spencer Moore was possibly the best known 20th century English sculptor. Moore became well-known for his larger-scale abstract cast bronze and carved marble sculptures. Substantially supported by the British art establishment, Moore helped to introduce a particular form of modernism to the United Kingdom. His abstract monumental bronzes can be seen in many places around the world as public works of art. The subjects are usually abstractions of the human figure, typically mother-and-child or reclining (hátradőlő) figures. Apart from a few experiments with family groups in the 1950s, the subject is nearly always a woman. Characteristically, Moore's figures are pierced (átlyuggatott), or contain hollow places. Many interpret the undulating form of his reclining figures as references to the landscape and hills of Yorkshire where Moore was born. His ability to satisfy large-scale commissions made him exceptionally wealthy towards the end of his life.

    • The most prominent post-war artist both on the national and international scene include Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, as well as highly idiosyncratic painters such as John Tunnard and Francis Bacon (“The London School”), David Hockney famous for developing the so called “joiners” (a kind of photomontage), and Richard Hamilton – an early representative of Pop Art. Appendix 2 Section C




    • Sir Edward William Elgar was an English Romantic composer. Several of his first major orchestral works, including the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, were greeted with acclaim. He also composed oratorios, chamber music, symphonies, instrumental concertos, and songs. He was appointed Master of the King's Music in 1924. This is given to composers of classical music, the post is roughly comparable to that of Poet Laureate.

    • In the second half of the century, William Walton and Benjamin Britten are of especial note as composers, although there are strong contrasts between their individual approaches to music and its part in the national identity. Walton’s work featured fanfares and patriotic themes: for instance he composed the ceremonial marches Crown Imperial, written for the coronation of George VI, and Orb and Sceptre, for that of Elizabeth II. Britten, on the other hand, made a conscious effort to set himself apart from the English musical mainstream, which he regarded as complacent, insular and amateurish. However, his works, such as the operas Peter Grimes (1945), and Billy Budd (1951), as well as his instrumental compositions, place him amongst the most accomplished composers of the century. The greatest success of his career was the musically conventional War Requiem (1962).

    • In the late 20th, early 21st century music, like most other aspects of society, has become globalized, and it is increasingly difficult to speak of “music of the UK” as a separate entity. Gifted British musicians train and perform all over the world: conversely, many of the places in UK music schools are taken up by overseas musicians, and most concerts are international in their content and their performers.

    • The 1950s saw most of the world that had access to records listening to American artists. In the early years the ballads and novelty numbers from the main US recording companies dominated and Britain was reduced to copying - at times note for note and phrase for phrase - the American original. Though most countries soon developed their own rock traditions, it was the United Kingdom that evolved its own distinctive scene, making American traditions into distinctively British ones such as Skiffle and Trad jazz, and eventually adding influences from English, Scottish and Irish folk music. By the middle of the 1960s, British artists had grown so adept at British-style rock, R&B and blues that the British Invasion occurred, led by the Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones among others. Artists began to popularize more authentic forms of American roots music in the States than had previously found mainstream success there, while highly-evolved forms of rock like heavy metal and progressive rock were developing into full-fledged genres of British popular music. British music in the 60s also saw a roots revival of folk music, beginning with England and Northern Ireland before spreading to Scotland, Wales.

    • In the 1970s, the United Kingdom saw intense diversification in both popular and folk music. Some of the many great bands were T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen. Heavy Metal evolved from pioneers like T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath into the hard-edged, complex music of bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Progressive rock grew extremely popular, with ever-increasingly “progressive” elements added in the form of obtuse lyrics, classical-tinged music and long-playing suites in multiple parts. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Queen, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant and Genesis are notable examples of this movement. The reaction against progressive rock was swift, as the genre came to be perceived as needlessly obscure and inaccessible; a new generation of British youth hated progressive rock and the bombastic, indulgent sounds of heavy metal, disco and glam. They were called punks, and their music was loud, angry, rebellious punk rock. In the 1980s, the spirit of punk rock fuelled a gaggle of new genres that took stylistic elements of punk and added new approaches and influences. The most important punk bands were the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Stranglers. The first of these developments was New Wave music, which featured atmospheric accompaniment to dreamy, otherworldly vocals. New Wave was very popular in the early 1980s, while other, less mainstream outgrowths of punk developed underground. These included an ever-increasing number of alternative rock subgenres, including Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure and Joy Division's Gothic rock and psychedelic-influenced bands like The Smiths and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Two genres that remained mostly underground throughout the 80s burst into the mainstream around the middle of the decade. Britpop was a fusion of all the alternative rock styles of the previous two decades, with a special focus on neo-psychedelia and it began to dominate the charts (Blur, Lush, Suede, Oasis, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead, The Verve). In late 80s/early 90s, American acid-house and Detroit techno music have made it to the UK (808 State, Aphex Twin).




    • Mass media has a central role in the 20th century history of British culture. It institutionalised certain values, morals and standards that are thought to be central to British culture at large. Founded on 18 October 1922, the British Broadcasting Company Ltd (later renamed British Broadcasting Corporation) was subsequently granted a Royal Charter and made a state-owned corporation in 1927. The corporation produces programmes and information services, broadcasting globally on television, radio, and the Internet. The stated mission of the BBC is “to inform, educate and entertain” (as laid down by Parliament in the BBC Charter), its motto is “Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation”. The BBC is a quasi-autonomous public corporation as a public service broadcaster. The BBC's domestic programming and broadcasts are primarily funded by levying television licence fees (under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949), although money is also raised through commercial activities such as sale of merchandise and programming. As part of the BBC Charter, the Corporation cannot show commercial advertising on any services in the United Kingdom (television, radio, or internet). Public services include sustaining citizenship and civil society; promoting education and learning; stimulating creativity and cultural excellence; representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities; bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK; helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services, and taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television. In addition the BBC must display at least one of the following characteristics in all content: high quality, originality, innovation, to be challenging and to be engaging. In essence the BBC must demonstrate that it provides public value in all its major activities.




    • The British film industry had the same beginnings and innovations as its counterparts in Europe and America. The British Board Of Film Censors was founded in 1912 primarily to lower the proportion number the foreign imports, or rather, to be able to control their numbers on the pretext of unsuitability. Home grown productions had an easier time passing the censors. Leading film makers of the time were Cecil Hepworth and Will Barker. The problem with the British film industry was it did not keep pace with the advances being made abroad and quickly became technically out of date. The films also remained very theatre orientated, filming a play exactly as it had been performed on stage and with the same actors and sets. 1927 saw Parliament bring in the Cinematographers Trade Bill, designed to ensure there was a guaranteed home market for British made films. It stipulated from it's induction that a minimum of 5% of the total number of movies shown had to be home produced, rising to 20% by 1936. The result was more movies, but the majority being of very poor quality, called the quote quickies. Although talent was lacking at large there were two exceptions, namely Alfred Hichcock (Juno and the Paycock, 1930) and Alexander Korda (The Private Life of Henry VIII, 1933) Two other valuable assets that came along during the 1930’s were the British Film Institute and the National Film Archives. They maintained, and still do, a film library not just of British films, but International ones too. They restore damaged prints and transfer nitrate stock onto safety film, as well as funding projects. Without them, many classics would be lost today.

    • The Second World War caused a small miracle to happen to movie making in the UK. A new spirit of austerity and strenuous work led to the abandonment of the stupidity and extravagance of the past decade. New realism in wartime pictures and a demand for documentaries gave a whole new look to British films. Initially, many cinemas closed down for fear of air raids, but the public needed a way of escaping the reality of war, and turned to the more genteel, sanitized versions available in the cinema. The majority was war related, The Stars Look Down, 49th Parallel, This Happy Breed. There were also other subjects exemplified by Brief Encounter, including costume melodramas like The Wicked Lady and The Man In Grey. New directors, artists and writers came to the fore (David Lean as a director, Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat as writers and Richard Attenborough, David Niven were elevated to stardom). During the 1950’s films had to learn to be more exportable and welcome to foreign audiences. The competition from television that had insidiously been creeping up on the movie industry really took hold in the mid 60’s. The Majority of people owned televisions and preferred to watch their entertainment from the comfort of home. Cinemas were turned into ballrooms and Bingo halls or simply torn down. Film censorship discarded some of its old prohibitions, now freer speech was allowed as well as previously taboo subjects like homosexuality, illegitimacy and abortion. The new movies challenged British society and it’s conventions with Room at the Top, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, Look Back In Anger and A Taste Of Honey. Notable filmmakers included Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, Lindsay Anderson, Ken Loach, Brian Forbes, Richard Attenborough and Ken Russell and American filmmakers like Joseph Losey and Stanley Kubrick. In fact, during this time American finances virtually took over the industry, until, suddenly in 1970 the recession in the US lead to an easing off of funding, and it was left to stand on its own feet.

    • The 80’s saw the British film industry deep in the doldrums with all the studios split up, either being closed used for TV production or hired out for independent film production. Unlike most film producing countries, government support was severely lacking in this decade. The special effects industry that had sprung up as an important part of movie making. Many big, Hollywood blockbusters that relied heavily on special effects were made exclusively or at least, in part there. Few British films made it to international distribution (Chariots of Fire, Ghandi, A Passage to India) with the heritage film industry – spearheaded by the Merchant-Ivory adaptations – being the only exception (Room with a View, Howards End, The Remains of the Day). Resurgence has begun in the 90’s with independently made British movies, made with home-grown talent. Britain, eager to take Hollywood on at its own game, a special marketing agency was set up and more funds from the National Lottery channelled into production. Films like the Oscar-winning The Full Monty and Four Weddings and a Funeral and cult favourites like The Crying Game and Trainspotting have been international blockbusters but executives conceded that industry triumphs had been isolated. Many British directors and actors work recently in Hollywood.




    • British scientist and invertors of the 20th century have continued the long tradition of technical creativity. Most notable figures include Alan Turing (mathematician, logician, and cryptographer.), Frank Whittle (inventor of the jet engine), Alexander Fleming (discoverer of penicillin) and Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the World Wide Web).

    • Beside Cambridge and Oxford Redbrick universities (those institutions of higher education British universities which were founded in the industrial cities of England in the Victorian era and which achieved university status before World War II) and New Universities (referring to any university founded in the 1960s and former polytechnics, colleges that have been granted university status in the past decades) grew into centres of research and development.

    • Two laboratories that have had considerable influence on the development of science in the 20th century are the Cavendish Laboratory (University of Cambridge) –specialising in nuclear physics, microbiology, superconductivity, theory of condensed matter, electron microscopy, radio astronomy – and the Clarendon Laboratory (University of Oxford), a leading research institute of atomic and laser physics, condensed matter physics and quantum computation.

    Appendix 1, Section A



    Newgrange passage tombs (c. 3300-2900)

    Entrance stone with megalithic art



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