Baltic Gothic

One of the first things we discovered when we started renovating St Aidan's was that it had been designed by an architect called Temple Lushington Moore.

We’d never heard of him either ;) but to our astonishment, it turned out that this little church was designed by a young man who went on to become 'arguably the greatest of the Victorian Gothic Revival church architects”, according to Gavin Stamp.

Temple Moore Trail points

Even more amazing, the North York Moors are full of his work. Clearly we had to find out more, and the slightly obsessive research that followed led to the Temple Moore Trail. 

St Jakobi watercolour

Last year we got an email from the owners of a watercolour dated 1884, signed Temple Moore. It was of a church –  could we identify it, they wondered? 

At that point the anwer was no, but the challenge was on. The date on the painting meant it had been done early in Moore’s career, the same year he married. In 1884 he was still holding together the remnants of George Gilbert Scott Jrs. practice*, as well as working on his own early commissions. We also knew from Geoff Brandwood's book that Moore had been on a tour of the Baltic in 1883, where he did a lot of sketching, so that was an obvious line of enquiry.

450px-St Jakobi Luebeck

Much internet searching of images followed and the painting was finally identified. It was St Jakobi in Luebeck, built in 1300. This was very satisfying!  Moore must have worked up one of the many sketches he made on his tour of the Baltic, once he was back home. 

It was fascinating to see how directly the  Baltic Gothic churches that he sketched as a young man influenced Temple Moore’s work decades later. I've always liked the  churches at Middlesbrough and Scarborough on the Temple Moore Trail, but didn’t realise where Moore got his references from for these big brick urban churches.

St Columba in Scarborough, and St Cuthbert and St Columba in Middlesbrough look straight back to the Baltic Gothic brick churches from the 13th century. Temple Moore kept the memory of what he saw and sketched in 1883 for many years. We don't have the tradition of the brick gothic here in the UK and the reference is likely hidden from most people, but in these urban churches Moore was re-imagining the form of the Baltic Gothic churches from the 12th and 13th centuries.

* Dan Cruikshank’s The Family that Built Gothic Britain tells the story of the Gilbert Scott dynasty. First shown on the BBC, and still available on YouTube.