There is nothing quite so bitter as a full-scale argument about taste. Ancient or Modern? Conservationists or carbuncles? One hundred and fifty years ago it was pinnacles v pediments, Gothic v Classical.
The Foreign Office controversy – or rather the Foreign Office, War Office and India Office controversy – which rumbled on from 1855 to 1861 supplies Bernard Porter with just such a battleground. In May 1857, 200 competition designs for a major government building fronting St James’s Park were