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What is the secret of beauty in architecture? Critics have puzzled over that conundrum for centuries, not least the architectural writers of the Victorian period. This book focuses on four Victorian critics - George Aitchison, Benjamin Webb, Beresford Hope and Coventry Patmore - and charts their responses to one of the eternal problems of art: the enigma of architectural form. None of these critics has been studied before in any detail. All four were widely read and widely listened to: two were Presidents of the RIBA. George Aitchison may be forgotten now; but his lectures give him a place in the folk-history of early modernism. Benjamin Webb, editor of The Ecclesiologist, was perhaps more influential: he acted as spokesman for one of the ablest of Victorian architects, William Butterfield. Beresford Hope - the doyen of architectural pundits - was both politician and critic; he popularized the notion of Progressive Eclecticism, the clue to late-Victorian architectural fashions. And Coventry Patmore - better known of course as a poet - is here revealed as an architectural critic of extraordinary perception.Alone in his generation, he saw through the fog of eclectic forms to the eternal principle which underlies great architecture at all times and in all places: the expression of gravitational thrust. Detailed bibliographies complete this illuminating study of Victorian thinking.