Next to Godliness: the architecture and decoration of Victorian sanitation


Sanitation was the prime environmental concern of developing societies in the nineteenth century.  The growth of conurbations, especially in London and the industrial north of England and lowland Scotland, presented local and national government with three urgent, desperate problems – water-supply, sewerage and the disposal of the dead.

Practical solutions took most of the nineteenth century to achieve, and in the process of engineering the healthy sanitary condition which later generations take for granted, the politicians, managers and designers of the nation’s water-supply and sewerage systems left a wealth of high-quality buildings, gigantic engineering works and attractive landscapes across the country, while the proprietors and architects of the great Victorian cemeteries created an environment that inimitably reflected contemporary beliefs and aspirations.

This study-day programme examines in detail the visible remains of this great movement, as vital in its day as the environmental concerns which dominate the twenty-first century.  Magnificent dams, elaborately decorated pumping stations and the architecture, sculpture and landscape designs of the great company cemeteries provide a rich resource for understanding the dynamism and the drama of our Victorian forebears.

The topic can also be delivered as two free-standing lectures, Victorian Cemeteries and Temples of Sanitation.  For details, please click on the above links.

For background information about sites relevant to this subject, please click here.

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