One of the puzzles of modern life is why the Victorians were able to do so many things which nowadays appear so difficult - from building railways to designing beautiful buildings.

We should not romanticise them too much.

The Victorian era was one of poverty, prejudice and imperialism.

But it was also an age when buildings were designed for people to use and enjoy, rather than to prove some esoteric theory understood only by the designer. It took no less a figure than Prince Charles to expose the failings of modern architecture and insist that architects design buildings people will enjoy looking at.

This is no academic argument.

Badly-designed buildings affect the quality of life of the people who live in them.

Sir Herbert John Baptista Manzoni was a man of his time, but it’s a time we should be in no hurry to return to.