The period between 1820 and 1860 saw a complete transformation of the architectural profession, from an essentially London-based elitist group with no formal training to a more commercially-orientated nationwide vocation commanding public respect.
The development of the profession was contiguous with rapid and seismic social, economic and political change occurring nationally. It was a period of conflict and struggle, of threats and opportunities: the aftermath of the French Revolution; the hungry forties; industrialisation, urbanisation and a new transport infrastructure; the Irish influx and population increase; the Gothic and Catholic Revivals, and the rise of the middle-classes. The aim of this thesis is to identify the extent to which these changes impacted upon architecture by providing work, prompting an introspective search for a new style and the
formation of a professional association. Conversely it will highlight the way in which architecture contributed to social change. To facilitate this, subject-matter is divided into four decades, each with its own characteristics, yet equally vital to the overall transition. Whilst constantly relating to social conditions, the thesis will also investigate the changing nature, power and influence of patronage, plus the need to create a professional association, precipitated by over-use of an iniquitous competition „system‟ and a flagging reputation.
The career of the proactive Roman Catholic architect Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-82) is tracked through each phase to illustrate changes as they occurred, from the accession of George IV in 1820 to the start of the Arts and Crafts Movement in 1859.