Brooks, James (1825-1901)

As a young man Brooks was influenced by the writings of Pusey and other members of the Oxford Movement. When he moved to London in 1847 he became a pupil of the architect Lewis Stride, subsequently entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1849. He set up his own architectural practice in 1851 and, by the 1860s, had established himself as one of the leading exponents of the High Victorian Gothic Revival. Brooks invariably found his stylistic inspiration in early French Gothic architecture and his buildings are characterised by a massive nobility which was widely imitated by his contemporaries. Typical early examples are St. Chad’s, Haggerston and St Columba’s, Kingsland Rd, and later, St. Margaret’s at Lee. Like several other Victorian architects Brooks insisted on being personally responsible for all the detailing in his buildings, which bear the distinctive stamp of his austere but impressive style. In 1895 he was awarded the distinction of the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects.