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Sophia Gray (1814-1871): an architectural apprenticeship for home, church and empire

Thackray, Deirdre M (2017) Sophia Gray (1814-1871): an architectural apprenticeship for home, church and empire. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Sophia Gray, born in the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1814, died in Cape Town in 1871 leaving a legacy of some 50 Gothic Revival style churches across the British colony of South Africa. Gray’s husband Robert was the first Bishop of Cape Town, and on his appointment in 1847 he was formally tasked with establishing, and fully consolidating, the Anglican Church in the Cape of Good Hope colony, and ultimately across South Africa. Sophia Gray successfully took up the mantle of “architect to the diocese”, making a significant contribution to the empire and Anglican church achieving their intentions in that territory. Gray’s achievements are acknowledged and recognised in South Africa, but to date there has been little consideration of how she was able to deftly undertake a role for which she had no apparent formal preparation. This dissertation determines the complex role which Sophia Gray undertook as going beyond that of “architect”; in seeking to fulfil her obligations to family, England, and church Gray employed the intersecting skills of artist, administrator, and architect. By examining the wider social and historical context within which Sophia Gray lived, prior to departing for South Africa in 1847, in combination with pertinent detail of her family, education and upbringing in the north of England, a richer portrait emerges than that presented to date. Gray’s unquestionable faculty for drawing and watercolour, as well as her capacity for household and estate management were founded on a base of feminine accomplishment, accomplishment deemed essential to a wife, a mother and homemaker in mid-nineteenth century Yorkshire. Her marriage to Robert Gray offered unfettered access to the prevalent Anglican ecclesiastical and ecclesiological thinking and teachings of the day, and the practical support to pragmatically apply her considerable knowledge and skill in a sphere far beyond the domestic.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > History of Art (York)
Depositing User: Mrs Deirdre M Thackray
Date Deposited: 04 May 2018 16:09
Last Modified: 04 May 2018 16:09
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19999

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