In English culture Gothic architecture enjoyed ambiguous reputation: on one hand, it was obviously connected with pre-Reformation times and therefore suspect. This reputation was strengthened by the Gothic novel which associated Gothic buildings with oppression and tyranny allegedly characteristic for Catholic countries. On the other hand, as a supposedly 'native' English style, in contrast to imported classicism, it was hailed as the true product of free English spirit. This dichotomy proved to be particularly interesting in the 19th century, the age of the Gothic Revival. As more and more Anglican churches were restored or built in the style propagated by A. W. Pugin and John Ruskin, the English public, in particular its Low Church faction, was ambivalent or even hostile towards the growing influence of the style associated with Roman Catholicism, the enemy of Protestant England. The article discusses the selected passages from Victorian novelists, both well-known (Bronte, Trollope, Borrow) and minor ones, which describe Gothic architecture and analyzes them in the context of this debate.