Pevsner and Victorian Architecture


Edited by Susie Harries. In the fifth issue of ‘Studies in Victorian Architecture and Design’, our topic is Pevsner and Victorian architecture. Now out of print.

In October 2011 the The Victorian Society held a study day marking the publication of the first complete biography of Nikolaus Pevsner, founder member, Chairman and first President of the Society. Pevsner was both a champion and a trenchant critic of Victorian architecture and this collection - the proceedings of that study day- explores the seeming contradictions within his approach and sets out some challenges to his position.

Above all, it celebrates the tenacity with which for years he drew attention to buildings he felt expressed the spirit of their age as any architecture before or since.

Simon Bradley describes Pevsner most consistent effort to publicise Victorian architecture through The Buildings of England and other writings - the origins of the campaign its progress and some of its peculiarities. But this was no paper crusade: Pevsner was a key figure in the VicSoc's practical struggles to preserve some of the most significant buildings of the era. Peter Howell re-fights some of the major battles in the conservation war, while Jonathan Meades explores Pevsner's relationship with another key combatant , John Betjeman.

While Pevsner's work on Victorian Architecture has , half a century later, been overtaken in places, his ideas remain stubborn points of reference to be cited, corroborated - or contested. Alan Crawford offers an alternative interpretation of the Arts and Crafts movement to that in Pevsner's Pioneers, while Robert Thorne discusses Pevsner's curious reluctance to give due weight in his analysis of Victorian buildings to the processes by which they were made - their material and construction.

Pevsner's academic interest in Victorian architecture was underpinned by a genuine personal involvement. Susie Harries explores his approach in the context of his Character, temperament and moral and intellectual preferences. Jane Fawcett, the late Ian Sutton, Julian Orbach and Nicolas Taylor remember Pevsner the man, as employer, colleague, mentor, teacher and friend.

ISBN 978-0-901657-54-1

Published June 2015

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