Gothic spires

In the past, I used to despise Gothic spires. When introduced to Gothic Revival in an architectural history course in first year, I would look at AWN Pugin’s “Contrasted Towns” and grimace. What he was saying did not match up at all to what I was thinking – the high-reaching Gothic spires were not signposts of divine presence to me. Instead, they were unnecessarily pointy, and a waste of stone, really. Symbols of inequality rather than good spirit. The city’s skyline resembles a value chart rather than a happy, hippy, ordered place.

And that’s no good sign.

Contrasted Towns in Contrasts by AWN Pugin
“Contrasted Towns” by AWN Pugin, 1836.

All respect from me to him, though, for condemning classicism and neoclassicism and all that Greek Revival going on in other parts of the country. But saying that the bottom picture shows a dehumanised city and the top one – an exemplary environment for a society to thrive? I will not take that.

Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 20.11.48
“Is Gothic really the cradle of capitalism?!”
Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 20.12.04
Some unauthorised value graphs off of the internet. (This one looks like New York City).


Where I was going with this, though, is somewhere else. 

Walking back home today after my last class finished (I was going to move to a coffee shop and work on my essay, since the weather was perfect and I got a free hot drink voucher, but exactly because of the weather my feet were wet and cold and I went home instead), I realised that unwittingly I measure the distance I yet have to go by the Gothic spire that sticks out of the local golf course. Then I came to realisation that this year I live practically next to a church.
A church that is still a church, but less of a church than more.
If you know Edinburgh a fair bit, you’ll know that there’s plenty of churces dotted around the city, especially within a 2-mile-ish radius from the centre.
Not all of them are still churches. (For example, the one temple in Infirmary Street is
the Estates Department of the University of Edinburgh).

And then I decided that I actually like this spire.
But I don’t think that’s because it’s Gothic. It’s because it tells me that that’s where
home is. Everybody looks out of the window on the plane when they’re approaching their home airport. That’s my window for here. Looking out for the Gothic spire.

Gothic is a sign of home.


… but a spire looks best when it’s cloudy and rainy. Not only does it bring the noir urbanism kind of vibe, but the spire looks like it’s up to something mischievous. And that something is reaching up to the clouds to rip them open and have them pour down even more rain. Or blood? Do clouds bleed? …

Published by kotersey

Graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First in geography, and from the University of Brighton with a Master's in history of design and material culture. Probably drinking iced coffee and thinking about buildings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: