F. H. W. Sheppard (General Editor)
At the core of this volume is a study of the estate in South Kensington and Westminster acquired under the auspices of Prince Albert by the Commissioners for the Great Exhibition of 1851, and developed as a remarkable cultural centre for the applied arts and sciences. In many ways the great sequence of world-famous institutions described here – such as the Victorian and Albert Museum, the National History Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, and the Imperial Institute – is a memorial to the Prince Consort’s vision. The book sets out his role in the creation of South Kensington as a centre for art and scholarship, and the parts played by others, such as Queen Victoria herself, Captain Francis Fowke, and Sir Henry Cole (the dynamic first Superintendent of the South Kensington Museum). The High Victorian memorial eventually erected to the prince in Hyde Park is also considered. Part of the Commissioners’ estate was used for house building, and the volume describes the development here and on adjoining lands of the great ranges of Italianate stucco mansions in and around Queen’s Gate, Elvaston Place and Cromwell Road, which today give South Kensington its architectural flavour. The emergence after 1870 of the red-brick ‘Domestic Revival’ idiom in reaction to all this ‘builders’ classical’-style housing is here exemplified by half-a-dozen important houses and flats by Richard Norman Shaw.