Newman University Church, Dublin

Architectural revivalism in the British Isles and the authority of form

Niamh Bhalla


ISBN: 9781800087026

Publication: July 01, 2024

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In 1854, John Henry Newman, one of the foremost intellectual figures of the nineteenth century, was officially installed as the rector of the first Catholic university in Ireland. University Church (constructed in 1855–6) was Newman’s first objective when he agreed to the rectorship and it can be considered as a tangible manifestation of the idea behind the unprecedented Catholic university in Dublin – the posing of an erudite Catholic alternative to post-Enlightenment secularism and Protestant hegemony through a style-based analogy to the early Church.

Despite physically embodying what Newman wished to achieve in and through his new university, the ‘early Christian’ style church, that drew upon Roman and Byzantine basilicas, has received little attention. This book charts for the first time the significant place that the building occupies within the history of Victorian revivalist architecture. Niamh Bhalla explores the meaningful connection between the church’s context and the ambiguity of its ‘early Christian’ style. In the intersection of these two things, a significant monument was created. The study of University Church therefore provides an effective lens to understand more comprehensively the architectural revivalism that dominated the nineteenth century, particularly the first stirrings of basilican and Byzantine revivalist architectures on the British Isles.

Dr Niamh Bhalla is Associate Professor in Art History and Assistant Dean at Northeastern University, London.

List of figures

1 The idea of a university church
2 The basilican design and the continuity of the Church
3 An architecture of the interior: a colourful and affective analogy
4 Newman and medieval revivalism in England and Ireland
5 The apse ‘mosaic’ and Newman’s idea of a university
6 Neo-Byzantinism and new visions for the future


Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

240 Pages

32 colour photo/halftones

Copyright: © 2024

ISBN: 9781800087026

Publication: July 01, 2024

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