Solid Mass And Plain Exterior: The Ecclesiastical Architecture Of William Wardell In Victoria

Paola Colleoni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


William Wilkinson Wardell was one of the most important architects of colonial Australia. A Catholic convert who had already extensive experience in working for the Catholic Church in England, Wardell relocated to Melbourne in 1858 with a large number of architectural drawings for ecclesiastical structures proving he was a distinguished Gothic revivalist. In Victoria, he established an extraordinary partnership with the first Catholic Bishop of Melbourne, James Goold, and despite being busily engaged at the Public Works Department, for over ten years he also maintained a successful private practice working on more than a dozen church commissions in the Gothic Revival style. Drawing on archival research including surviving architectural drawings, diocesan correspondence, and nineteenth century newspapers, the article reveals Wardell’s ability in blending English, Irish and French medieval Gothic elements that appealed to the local congregations for his Australian church designs. Furthermore, it demonstrates that his substantial parish churches manifested the strength and permanence of Catholic religious tradition, ultimately helping Bishop James Goold to lay strong foundations in the establishment of the Catholic Church in Victoria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jun 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Urban Studies


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