HC Deb 05 April 1867 vol 186 cc1232-47

said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the buildings now in course of erection on the site of Burlington House, especially with reference to the pledge given to Parliament last year. The late Government desired that the Burlington House site should be appropriated to a building for the reception of the national pictures; but, chiefly through the influence of the present First Commissioner of Works (Lord John Manners), the Vote proposed for that purpose was negatived and the scheme thrown out. For the interests of Art no more disastrous Vote ever passed the House. If a National Gallery had been erected on this spot a most important question affecting Art would have been settled; the national pictures would have been rescued from injury; and an admirable building, of which the plans and elevation were submitted to the House, would have been provided for their reception. It would now take many years to settle the question, if it were settled at all. The scheme of the late Government having being rejected, it was decided to appropriate the site for the purposes of the Royal Academy, the London University, the Royal Society, and other learned bodies. Certain hon. Members, admiring the architecture of Burlington House, thought that it ought not to be interfered with. The house was a handsome gentleman's residence, and a very fair specimen of domestic architecture, but he did not attach the value to it which was attached by many persons; and if, as he was told, no living English architect could hope to rival it, this country must be very badly off for architects. The principal merit of Burlington House was the tout ensemble formed by the main building, the wings, the colonnade, and other parts of the structure. Owing to the feeling he had mentioned, it was decided that Burlington House should be kept standing. The question then arose how the building should be turned to account, because to keep up the wings, colonnade, and the screen or frontage in Piccadilly would be to sacrifice a large extent of valuable ground. At length certain plans were proposed, and were originally accepted by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Cowper). It was determined that Burlington House should be utilized by being gutted and made a portico, as it were, through which access should be had to buildings to be erected behind it. The Royal Society and the other learned societies were to be accommodated in front. Burlington House was to be made the centre of two wings, which were to be carried out at right angles to it to Piccadilly, and there united by a sort of façade, in the centre of which was to be a grand triumphal arch leading to the court-yard in which Burlington House stood. Behind Burlington House was to be erected the Royal Academy, and behind the Royal Academy, again, a building for the accommodation of the London University. By following the plan proposed, an important feature in the house, its colonnade, would altogether disappear, and therefore one of the reasons for keeping it up would disappear also; and, again, to raise new and lofty buildings round about it was like marrying a little short man to a very stout woman who would be smothered in her embraces. The absurdity of this being apparent to everybody, another story was now to be added to Burlington House; and to give it strength at the base an arcade or portico was to be erected, uniting the two ends of the building. Thus Burlington House would lose its distinctive character altogether, and the reason for sacrificing so much valuable ground in order to preserve the original building would no longer exist. Now, considering that the buildings now to be erected would form one group, it was natural to suppose that one leading mind would superintend the erection of the whole. However, this was not thought right; and as on the French stage we often saw one play written by two authors, so here this group of buildings was handed over to three architects. Burlington House was to be transformed by Mr. Smirke, the new wings and façade were intrusted to Messrs. Banks and Barry, and Mr. Pennethorne was charged with the erection of the London University behind. The natural presumption was that the buildings behind Burlington House should follow the style of that building—the Palladian or Classic Italian. Accordingly, Mr. Pennethorne proposed a plan in this style for the London University. Meanwhile, however, a change had taken place in the Government, and the noble Lord became Chief Commissioner of Works. Unfortunately, the noble Lord had a certain attachment for the Gothic style; and Mr. Pennethorne, abandoning his Palladian plan after having submitted it to the noble Lord, sent in an Italian-Gothic elevation; whether by the direction of the noble Lord or not it appeared doubtful; but the noble Lord accepted the new designs. The hon. Member for Roscommon asked the noble Lord the other night to say what Italian-Gothic was; and well he might. He (Mr. Layard) was puzzled to know what was meant by Italian-Gothic. Was it the chaste, early Gothic so generally used by the Franciscan order in their churches, or the ornate style of Milan Cathedral, or what? Mr. Pennethorne retained the original interior plan of the building, but converted the exterior elevation from Classic into Italian-Gothic, which was an anomaly, because the interior arrangements that would suit a Palladian building would probably not suit a Gothic building. The face of a building could not be changed without a corresponding change of the interior. Already fourteen feet of the building had been erected, but the London University Committee appeared not to have been consulted in the matter. When they found they had got this Italian-Gothic building, on the 22nd of February they adopted the following resolution:— They much regret that they cannot speak favourably of the elevation. They are, however, fully sensible of the disadvantage under which the architect has laboured in putting a Gothic casing upon an edifice planned for the adoption of an entirely different (and, indeed, antagonistic) style. Believing that ornament should be subservient to structural expression, they would gladly see the whole series of spires and pinnacles done away with. The sub-Committee also feel that the concealment of the roofs of the wings produces a want of harmony in the general effect, the centre having a high-pitched roof which is really picturesque. The design of the windows in the wings also seems to them capable of improvement; and they dislike the present aspect of the arcade at the entrance. They also cannot but regret that the principal range of windows should light a series of small or moderate-sized apartments, and thus give a certain character of unreality to the design; but this has been in a great measure the result of adopting a Gothic elevation without recasting the plan of the building. The building, it would appear, was one which had all manner of spires and pinnacles. Having made several attempts to induce the noble Lord to withdraw the Italian-Gothic façade, on the 25th of March the Committee of the London University passed this resolution▀× That, having reference to the style of the adjoining buildings and to the character and purposes of the University of London, it is the opinion of this Committee that the modern style of architecture would be preferable either to the mediæval or to the Italian-Gothic, for the elevation of the new building. That in case the Senate feel precluded by the communication from Lord John Manners from proposing any such fundamental change as that implied in the preceding resolution, the Committee would think it desirable to have some conference with Mr. Pennethorne on various modifications of the Italian-Gothic elevation now before them, which would not interfere with the early and economical completion of the building. He understood that the answer they got was to the effect that they were to mind their own business; they had to live in the house, but had nothing to do with the building of it, and that the design was to be carried out as a whole. Such was the history of this Italian-Gothic building to be raised behind Burlington House. He had seen the elevation for the additional story to Burlington House, and for the wings and façade in Piccadilly, and he admitted that they were very handsome, and that Mr. Smirke had done all he could to adapt that building to its object and to the surrounding edifices. On the whole, the grand entrance in Piccadilly, and the lofty ornamental buildings in the Palladian style for the wings, did great credit to Messrs. Banks and Barry; and he trusted that when Members saw the plans, as he hoped they would do, in the Library of the House, they would meet their approval. But the noble Lord had not only sinned against taste, but against the House of Commons. Last year they were called upon to vote £20,000 on account of buildings to be erected on the Burlington House site. The House objected to vote the sum without having an idea of the class of building to be erected, and a distinct pledge was given that the House should not be called upon to vote any more money until the plans and elevations had been submitted for the inspection of its Members. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) said— The great question related to the frontages to the north and south.… He should like the Committee to pass this vote. But he accompanied that with this arrangement. His right hon. Friend had already the ground plan prepared, and there would be no difficulty in immediately proceeding with the preparation of the designs, so as to give hon. Gentlemen what opportunities for criticism they might desire before any step was taken in the erection of the building.—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 190–1.] The First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Cowper) said— He could assure the House that the plans would be completed before any of the work was commenced, and he would promise to place them within the reach of hon. Members, so as to show the portion that would be occupied by the Royal Academy on the southern side, that occupied by the London University at the northern end, and the intermediate space, which would accommodate the learned societies. The plan might be executed at different times, but the whole would be settled before any part was commenced. The Royal Academy building would be designed by their own architect, subject to the approval of the Board of Works, and care would be taken that it harmonized in character and general arrangements with the University building. They need not be identical in style, but all the buildings that would cover the site would be viewed as one composition."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 192.] That was a distinct pledge to submit the designs to the House. The present First Commissioner of Works (Lord John Manners) was reported to have said— He was of opinion that before this Vote was agreed to the House should be in possession of some general scheme for occupying the ground facing Piccadilly and the gardens behind. He thought it would be desirable for the Government to postpone the Vote for the present."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 189.] The noble Lord was then in Opposition; but since he had come into office he had violated every pledge that had been given, and the buildings had been commenced without any plans or elevations being placed within the reach of hon. Members. Notwithstanding the fact that the House voted the £20,000 on the understanding that no further demand should be made upon them until the House had seen the plans and elevations, the noble Lord, he understood, now put forward the extraordinary doctrine that the head of a Department was not bound by any pledges made by his predecessors in office. That was a most mischievous and dangerous doctrine, which, if carried out, would result in a general want of confidence in the heads of Departments, who might be changed at any time, and whose pledges would not he binding on their successors. Unless some distinct explanation should be given which would show a good reason for the course which had been pursued, he should move, when the next Vote on the subject was proposed to the House, that it should be rejected, and that the works should be stopped until the House had had an opportunity of inspecting and approving the plans for the whole group of buildings.


said, that there would be no objection to produce the Correspondence which had taken place between Her Majesty's Government and the London University during the entire period the negotiations had been in progress. The miseries of private gentlemen who engaged in building were proverbial; but they were nothing to what were suffered in similar cases by the head of a public Department. It was now nine years since the House had first commenced discussing this subject, and the hon. Member blamed it for having at last decided that the National Gallery was to be in Trafalgar Square, and the Royal Academy in Burlington House. He put it to the House that if, by any action on their part, they were to prevent that great scheme which had been decided on two or three years ago, by which Trafalgar Square was to be reserved for the National Gallery, and the Royal Academy was to be placed in Burlington Gardens, from being carried out, very great inconvenience must be the result. The hon. Gentleman, in the opening of his speech, had found great fault with him with reference to the design adopted for the building of the London University in Burlington Gardens, and also for the manner in which, according to the hon. Gentleman, he had not fulfilled certain pledges given to the House by his predecessor. With regard to the first point, he really felt a difficulty in approaching once more the old worn-out question of "the battle of the styles." The history which the hon. Gentleman had given—founded on what authority he could not even pretend to guess—as to the manner in which this particular design was formed was erroneous from beginning to end. He begged leave to state, in the most emphatic manner, that he never directed Mr. Pennethorne to form the design in Palladian, Gothic, Italian-Gothic, Byzantine, or any other style. When he succeeded to the office which he had now the honour to hold, he found that the House of Commons had voted £20,000 for the erection of a building for the London University, and that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), on the 30th of April last, had told the House that it was of the utmost importance that not a moment should be lost, that the Vote should be taken without delay, and the work at once commenced. When he found that such was the state of things, and that his predecessor before leaving office had commissioned Mr. Pennethorne to prepare specifications for the foundations of the building, he felt it to be clearly his duty not to stop the work, but to take the necessary steps to carry that work to completion. He therefore instructed Mr. Pennethorne to prepare a design; but he begged leave to deny, in the most emphatic manner, that in giving those instructions he expressed any preference whatever for one style of architecture over another. The result showed it. For how did Mr. Pennethorne fulfil those instructions? The hon. Gentleman said, and said truly, that he had sent in what the hon. Gentleman rightly or wrongly called a Palladian design. The hon. Gentleman also said that his charge must be well founded, because it was founded on documents received from the London Univerversity. He begged to say that such was not the fact. Mr. Pennethorne of his own free will proposed two alternative designs. What became of the charge that he had shown a complete indifference to the wishes of the London University, who were to inhabit the building? What did he do? He requested the authorities of the London University to come down and examine the designs to see which of the two they preferred. The Chancellor was not in London at the time, nor he believed the Vice Chancellor; but Dr. Carpenter, the Registrar, came to his office, and he (Lord John Manners) begged that he, in conjunction with Mr. Pennethorne, should examine the designs and report which they preferred. The result was that, without expressing any very decided preference for one or the other, both Dr. Chancellor and Mr. Pennethorne said they rather preferred that the Italian-Gothic design should be adopted. They went carefully into the question how all the requirements of the London University would be met, and Dr. Carpenter seemed quite satisfied that ample provision would be made for them. And that was the whole of this tremendous affair of these two alternatives. He had no more notion of forcing Mr. Pennethorne or the London University to adopt a design which they did not like than the hon. Gentleman himself. Then the hon. Gentleman went into a matter very difficult to discuss in Parliament—the question of taste. That was a question which had been brought forward on many occasions. The hon. Gentleman thought that what he called the front and back of buildings ought to be in the same style of architecture. He entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman; but the whole question was, what was the front and what the back? The hon. Gentleman said that any building erected behind Burlington House on the north side must be in the same style of architecture as the building on the south side. Now, in what style of architecture were the authorities of the Royal Academy going to carry out those works which had met with approval of the hon. Member, and which were to be erected at the rear of Burlington House at their own expense? Were they to be in the Palladian style? [Mr. LAYARD: I hope so.] They were to be in the plainest possible style—they were to be architecturally adapted for galleries for pictures. The house with which the new building would be brought into immediate contact was that which belonged to General Cavendish, and he would challenge the hon. Gentleman to tell what was the style of architecture of that house? He should like further to know from him whether he thought the new building ought to be in that style. For his own part, he had not expressed an opinion in favour of one style of architecture over another. But the hon. Gentleman had referred to what had been said by late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone) on the 30th of April last, and also to what had fallen from himself on that occasion. It was quite true that he had then observed that, if it were in the power of the Government to do so, it would be well to place before the House a general plan, and to show how the whole of the piece of ground in question was to be appropriated. But the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking after him, and he believed in answer to him, said— It was necessary to take this Vote because the case of the University of London was urgent in point of time. If they were not allowed to take a Vote until they could produce a plan for the appropriation of the whole site, there would be a loss of a whole year, and even then the object in view would not be attained. The Royal Academy was going to build out of its own funds, and it would require a good deal of time to settle the mode of filling up the intermediate portion of the site."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 190.] Now, he was not disposed to be unreasonable, and that answer of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer to him was, he thought, sound one. The House took the same view, because the Vote, after considerable discussion, was allowed to pass without a division. The hon. Gentleman, however, accused him of breach of faith, because he had not produced those plans which could not be produced last year. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper), it was true, on that occasion said— He could assure the House that the plans would be completed before any of the work was commenced, and he would promise to place them within the reach of hon. Members, so as to show the portion that would be occupied by the Royal Academy on the southern side, that occupied by the London University at the northern end, and the intermediate space, which would accommodate the learned societies."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 192.] But he gathered from that statement that it referred to the plans for the distribution of the ground, and not to the elevations and designs, which were things perfectly distinct. In answer to a Question which had been put to him on July 31 by his hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford Hope), he said— It is impossible for me to exhibit the design referred to by the hon. Member, as it is not in my possession."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 1762.] And that was the fact, because, although the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper), after the Vote had passed, gave instructions to Mr. Pennethorne to prepare specifications for the foundations of the work, he issued no instructions for the preparation of designs so long as he remained in office. As soon as the plans for the appropriation of the ground could be prepared, he (Lord John Manners) was perfectly willing and ready and anxious that they should be placed in the Library for the inspection of hon. Members. There was necessarily great delay in dealing with the various bodies concerned. Arrangements had to be made with no less than six learned societies, and accommodation to be provided for the Royal Academy, as well as a new building for the London University. Those arrangements were now concluded, and the plans would be immediately placed before the House. Before any fresh Vote was asked for, the complete appropriation of the whole site of Burlington House and Burlington Gardens would be distinctly shown. Hon. Members would, when they saw the accommodation which was to be provided for the Royal Academy and for the different learned societies, and the new building for the London University, admit that the appropriation of the property at Burlington House was such as was originally contemplated by the nation, when the purchase of that property was made. It was such as would satisfy those who set a value on the objects which those great learned and artistic societies had in view. He understood from those who had seen some of the designs for the Royal Academy and the accommodation of the other societies that they met with general approbation. Nothing, he could assure the House, could be further from his intention than to treat it with the slightest disrespect, or to depart in the least degree from any pledge which might have been given. He had always, in the discharge of his duty, endeavoured to take the House fully into his confidence, and he hoped that in the present instance it would find that the Government had come to a wise and satisfactory decision.


said, he could assure the noble Lord that the London University with which he had the honour to be connected as a Member of the Senate, so far from making any complaint of him, were very sensible of the courtesy which they had received at his hands in reference to their new building. He might also say that, having for a long time sat in that House with the noble Lord, he should be last person to charge him with violating any pledge he had given. Through the kindness of the noble Lord he had been enabled within the last few days to see the elevations in accordance with which building was to be erected. Without entering into a discussion on a matter of taste, on which he did not feel that he was an authority, he might state it to be his belief, as a matter of fact, that if the elevation which it was proposed to erect in Burlington Gardens for the purposes of the London University had been exhibited in the Library of the House before the Vote was taken for it, not a single shilling would have been voted for carrying out such a plan. The extracts from the speech of the right hon. Member (Mr. Cowper) contained a statement that the plan would be submitted as a whole, and that the House of Commons would have the opportunity of declaring whether the buildings should be made consistent and harmonious with one another. But the noble Lord seemed to think it very absurd to suppose that because the Royal Academy was constructed in accordance with one style of architecture, the London University, on the same piece of ground, might not be built in a style entirely different. It appeared to him that the House would very likely be of an entirely different opinion, and if Burlington House was to be preserved, and other buildings were to be erected on the grounds, and to be parcels of the same block, the House would probably think that all the buildings should be in harmony one with another. It was very desirable that a large sum should not be voted and expended on buildings which instead of being an ornament, would be a disfigurement to the metropolis, until the House of Commons had had the opportunity of forming a judgment with respect to them. As the noble Lord proposed to place the design of the elevation in the Library in a few days, hon. Members would be able to pronounce an opinion in respect to it. He knew that the Senate of the London Unisity was of one mind in thinking that the building would be not an ornament but a disfigurement to the metropolis. He had been under the apprehension that the noble Lord, having a great liking for that particular style of architecture, had in this case yielded to his predilection. He was relieved from that apprehension, for it appeared that the noble Lord only desired Mr. Pennethorne to make two elevations, that those elevations were submitted to Dr. Carpenter, and that the two, in a few minutes, determined on the design without consulting the noble Lord. No doubt Dr. Carpenter supposed that his opinion was asked upon the convenience of the arrangements of the plan for the London University, and never for one moment believed that there was vested in him authority to speak for the Chancellor and Senate of the London University, and give their opinion as to the elevation to be erected. However, it was not for the London University, much less for Dr. Carpenter, to decide the question how public money was to be spent in ornamenting or disfiguring the metropolis. That was a question for the House of Commons, and it could not be decided without the House seeing the plan of the elevation. One duty the London University had to discharge, and that was to express their opinion on the subject. He bore testimony to the courtesy with which the noble Lord had treated the London University. He should like to know what amount of smart money the country would have to pay if this elevation were got rid of and another substituted for it. He hoped that a third elevation, preferable to either of the other two, might be adopted by the House.


thought that the present discussion showed how ill-advised the last Parliament was under the advice of those now in power in throwing over the scheme for building the National Gallery on Burlington Gardens, and erecting there one uniform and harmonious structure. The House would recollect how he had been supported by his hon. Friend the Member for Southwark on his Motion last Session to reverse this decision, and what little support he had received. All he had realized was saving Burlington House at the loss, however, of its best portion, its picturesque colonnade, which he hoped might be erected elsewhere. In the conversation which took place on the 30th of April in last year he clearly understood the right hon. Member for Hertford to promise that all the plans and elevations of the new buildings should be submitted to the House. Several hon. Members were taken aback at the suddenness with which the idea of putting the London University in Burlington Gardens had been produced full fledged; but a distinct promise was given by the then Commissioner of Works that the elevations and designs should be produced, and though a change of Government took place, he could not have thought that that promise would have been so entirely neglected. Under the old scheme there would have been one grand harmonious palace erected on the ground, with a direct through communication and two façades saving withal Burlington House. So much did he admire the scheme that he waived in favour of it his personal preference for Gothic. But this had been given up, and the ground was to be cut up and frittered away partly between the Royal Academy and the London University. Each building would now have its own entrance front, and neither of them would have any intercommunication, nor back nor sides, but simple blank walls, except the façades. Moreover, there could not conceivably be two structures which it would be more impossible to comprehend in the same coup d'œil, except from a balloon, than the Royal Academy looking down upon Piccadilly, and the London University up Cork Street. Accordingly, the unity of structure which had to be maintained in the days when the National Gallery was to cover the whole space no longer existed. The question whether Mr. Pennethorne's design was good or bad should be tested by its own merits—if good, let it be adopted; if bad, corrected, for a bad Gothic design would raise a prejudice against its style. The good scheme that would cover Burlington Gardens with one building was passed and gone. It was to be covered with two buildings totally distinct in their objects. Let them be dealt with on their own merits. Let them forget that there was a Royal Academy to the south, and deal with the London University merely with a view to Burlington Gardens. Take it in hand—make it as commodious and picturesque as possible, and if it could be made a new starting point for metropolitan architecture, so much the better. The time had come when the revolt was sounded against that monotonous repetition of Italian architecture in stucco and compo which had too long defaced our streets. Men were beginning to appreciate the picturesque forms of the Middle Ages so well adapted to the purposes of our present life. A Gothic club-house was rising in St. James' Street. A Gothic Insurance Office of great beauty had been planted within Temple Bar; a Gothic warehouse of great originality had been erected in Thames Street, while of all Members whom he felt sure would most warmly hail this happy change he would name the Member for Southwark, whose labours of love in the Arundel Society had done so much to impress our minds with the beauties of the mediæval art of Italy.


said, he thought that there was one building in London which was admirably adapted for all practical purposes, and that was Somerset House. He felt that they were all much obliged to the noble Lord (Lord John Manners) for the candid manner in which he had acted and for the candid explanations he had given, by which he had liberated himself from all accusation. He had himself strongly urged getting the London University out of the rooms in which they were at present so inconveniently placed; but he certainly understood that before anything was undertaken they would have not only the plans but the elevation of the buildings. He would humbly suggest to the noble Lord that he should at once produce the plans. After the emphatic denunciation they had heard they ought to look carefully at this design before going further. The "battle of the styles" had been ill-fought on the present occasion. The same foundation would avail for a classical and a Gothic building. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) asked what amount of smart-money they would have to pay? He did not think it would be very much. The main thing was that the noble Lord should stay further progress in order to produce the design, and within a week they might come to a determination whether the judgment of the London University was right, and the judgment of the architect was wrong. If the feeling of the House was in favour of a Gothic design, no one could carry it out better than Mr. Pennethorne. With the opening from Piccadilly through the University buildings, he thought the three distinct styles of Burlington House, the Royal Academy, and the University building would in some sort or another be united. He understood that there was to be a way through the Burlington House galleries into the University building, and it would be very objectionable if the galleries were in one style and the new building in another. He could not conceive that with such a variety of style a result satisfactory to the nation could be carried out. This debate might well stand adjourned till they saw Mr. Pennethorne's design.


said, he gave his noble Friend (Lord John Manners) every credit for the great frankness with which he had made his statement. At the same time, there was one important point to which he had not adverted—namely, that Mr. Pennethorne's first design was in harmony with Burlington House, and that it was only on second thoughts that he furnished the present design. He quite agreed that they ought to endeavour to blend in one design the two buildings. As to any supposed breach of faith towards the House, he might say that having listened to the debate of last year, his opinion was that what was said by the right hon. Gentlemen (Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Cowper) had been carried into effect. It was a question of accommodating three bodies—the Royal Academy, the Learned Societies, and the London University. He (Mr. Bentinck) took objection to the multitude of architects, and the answer he received was that they should work together. The whole depended on the Royal Academy agreeing to go to Burlington House. What happened after that? Sir Francis Grant declined, and would not go there till lately. Now he heard for the first time that the Royal Academy was going to Burlington House. He hoped that his noble Friend would throw aside any prejudice he might have, and comply with the request that had been made to him by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Until the Estimates were brought forward, which he assumed they would be at no very distant day, he would suggest to his noble Friend that directions should be given to stop any artistic work which had been commenced, and that the designs should be exhibited in the Library or in some other convenient place. When there had been an opportunity of taking the opinion of the House, no doubt a building would be erected which would be a credit to the metropolis.


said, he wished, after what had fallen from the hon. Member (Mr. Tite), to offer a practical suggestion—namely, that the work in this case should be stopped until the designs had been laid before Parliament, and the House enabled to form an opinion upon them. Some years ago the advocates of the Gothic style for the new Foreign Office were defeated; but he thought the result must have rather shaken the faith of those who had voted in favour of the style recommended by Lord Palmerston. As to the building now in question, it was to be regretted that the back of it would not correspond more with the front. In order to fulfil the understanding which was apparently come to by his predecessor in office, his noble Friend (Lord John Manners) should lay the plans before Parliament previous to proceeding with the building; otherwise, if they should see reason to object to what was done, they might be met with the answer that it was too late to make any change.


said, that when in April last the Vote was proposed to the House and carried it was the intention of the then Government to place the Royal Academy on the south side of the Burlington House site, and that the north side of the site should remain open for the purposes of the London University. At that time many hon. Members were much afraid that the building would be erected without any reference to a general scheme and to that proper harmony which ought to mark all the buildings on the Burlington House site. He remembered that the first in pressing that view upon the House was the noble Lord (Lord John Manners). To such a degree, indeed, did the noble Lord push it that he proposed to postpone the Vote because he feared there was not a complete and harmonious scheme for disposing of the whole of the site. He himself at once met that objection by saying that although it was not for the advantage of public business then to postpone that particular Vote, yet he was quite prepared, on behalf of the then Government, to state that they would satisfy the House that the whole of the ground was laid out with a general intention and a harmonious design, and that they were quite ready to let the House see the plans on which they meant to proceed, though those plans were not at that moment prepared. Therefore, the noble Lord must have been quite aware of the engagement into which the late Government had entered; and he was surprised that the noble Lord had not thought fit to act upon that understanding. There certainly was an understanding on the part of the late Government that the House should have information as to the plans for the building, though the elevation was not specially mentioned. At that time he had not caused any elevation to be prepared, for the very reason that he never intended that the London University should be a distinct portion of the building which was to occupy the site of Burlington House. He thought it should be in harmony with the other buildings which the Royal Academy were prepared to erect on the southern side; and until the architects employed by the Royal Academy could begin to consider what elevation they should propose for the assent of the First Commissioner of Works, he had not thought it right that any elevation should be prepared for the London University. Italian-Gothic was a style in which beauty and variety might be successfully combined with grandeur of effect; but that style was not appropriate to the position or the purpose of the building in question.