Pevsner Architectural Guides

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The Pevsner Architectural Guides are a series of guide books to the architecture of the British Isles. Begun in the 1940s by art historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the 46 volumes of the original Buildings of England series were published between 1951 and 1974. The series was then extended to Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the late 1970s. The Scottish and Irish guides were incomplete as of summer 2012. Most of the English volumes have had second editions, chiefly by other authors.

Buildings of England[edit]

Origin and research methods[edit]

After moving to Great Britain from his native Germany in the 1930s, Nikolaus Pevsner found that the study of architectural history had little status in academic circles, and that the amount of information available, especially to travellers wanting to inform themselves about the architecture of a particular district, was limited. He conceived a project to write a series of comprehensive county guides to rectify this, and gained the backing of Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books, for whom he had written his Outline of European Architecture.

Work on the series began in 1945. Lane employed two part-time assistants, both German refugee art historians, who prepared notes for Pevsner from published sources. Pevsner spent the academic holidays touring the country to make personal observations and to carry out local research, before writing up the finished volumes. The first volume was published in 1951. Pevsner wrote 32 of the books himself and ten with collaborators, with a further four of the original series written by others: the two Gloucestershire volumes by David Verey, and the two volumes on Kent by John Newman. Newman is the only author in the series to have written a volume and revised it three times.

Since Pevsner's death, work has continued on the series, with several volumes now in their third revision, and three in their fourth editions.

Content of the volumes[edit]

The books are compact and intended to meet the needs of both specialists and the general reader. Each contains an extensive introduction to the architectural history and styles of the area, followed by a town-by-town — and in the case of larger settlements, street-by-street — account of individual buildings. The guides offer both detailed coverage of the most notable buildings and notes on lesser-known and vernacular buildings; all building types are covered but there is a particular emphasis on churches and public buildings. Each volume has a central section with several dozen pages of photographs, originally in black and white, though colour illustrations have featured in revised volumes published by Yale University Press since 2003.

Celebratory volumes[edit]

In 1986 Penguin Books published an anthology from Pevsner's volumes edited by Bridget Cherry and John Newman, "The Best Buildings of England", ISBN 0-670-81283-8. It has an excellent introduction by Newman asssessing Pevsner's aims and methods.

In 2001 the Penguin Collectors Society published The Buildings of England: a Celebration, edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry, fifty years after BE1 was published: it includes twelve essays and a selection of text from the series. ISBN 978-0-9527401-3-1

Volumes in print[edit]

The list below is of the volumes that are in print in 2014. Since 1962, many (although not yet all) of the volumes have been updated to reflect architectural-history scholarship and to include significant new buildings. Pevsner left virtually all the revisions to others, acting as supervisor only. He ultimately revised only two of his original editions alone: London 1: The Cities of London and Westminster (1962) and Cambridgeshire (1970). Both were later revised again by others. Beginning in 1983, a larger format was introduced, and all subsequent new editions have been issued in this format. As of 2014, the oldest unrevised volumes are Warwickshire and Yorkshire: The North Riding (both 1966). All editions are now published by Yale University Press.

Those volumes marked with an asterisk remain in the original, smaller format.

Title of Current Edition First Edition Co-author(s) Second Edition Co-author(s) Third Edition Co-author(s) Current ISBN
Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough 1968 2014 Charles O'Brien ISBN 978-0-300-20821-4
Berkshire 1966 2010 Geoffrey Tyack, Simon Bradley ISBN 978-0-300-12662-4
Buckinghamshire 1960 1994 Elizabeth Williamson ISBN 978-0-300-09584-5
Cambridgeshire 1954 1970 2014 Simon Bradley ISBN 978-0-300-20596-1
Cheshire 1971 Edward Hubbard 2011 Clare Hartwell, Matthew Hyde ISBN 978-0-300-09588-3
Cornwall 1951 1970 Enid Radcliffe 2014 Peter Beacham ISBN 978-0-300-12668-6
County Durham* 1953 1983 Elizabeth Williamson ISBN 978-0-300-09599-9
Cumbria 1967 1 2010 Matthew Hyde ISBN 978-0-300-12663-1
Derbyshire* 1953 1978 Elizabeth Williamson ISBN 978-0-300-09591-3
Devon 1952 2 1989 Bridget Cherry ISBN 978-0-300-09596-8
Dorset* 1972 John Newman ISBN 978-0-300-09598-2
Essex 1954 1965 Enid Radcliffe 2007 James Bettley ISBN 978-0-300-09601-9
Gloucestershire 1: The Cotswolds 1970 David Verey 3 1979 1999 Alan Brooks ISBN 978-0-300-09604-0
Gloucestershire 2: The Vale and Forest of Dean 1970 David Verey 3 1976 2002 Alan Brooks ISBN 978-0-300-09733-7
The Isle of Wight 1967 4 David W. Lloyd 2006 David W. Lloyd ISBN 978-0-300-10733-3
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight* 1967 David W. Lloyd ISBN 978-0-300-09606-4
Hampshire: Winchester and The North 1967 5 David W. Lloyd 2010 Michael Bullen, John Crook, Rodney Hubbuck ISBN 978-0-300-12084-4
Herefordshire 1963 2012 Alan Brooks ISBN 978-0-300-12575-7
Hertfordshire* 1953 1977 Bridget Cherry ISBN 978-0-300-09611-8
Kent: North East and East 1969 John Newman 3 1976 1983
2013 (4th)
ISBN 978-0-300-18506-5
Kent: West and the Weald 1969 John Newman 3 1976 2012 ISBN 978-0-300-09614-9
Lancashire: Liverpool and the South West 1969 6 2006 Richard Pollard ISBN 978-0-300-10910-8
Lancashire: Manchester and the South East 1969 6 2004 Clare Hartwell, Matthew Hyde ISBN 978-0-300-10583-4
Lancashire: North 1969 2009 Clare Hartwell ISBN 978-0-300-12667-9
Leicestershire and Rutland 1960 1984 Elizabeth Williamson ISBN 978-0-300-09618-7
Lincolnshire 1964 John Harris 1989 Nicholas Antram ISBN 978-0-300-09620-0
London 1: The City of London 1957 7
1962 7
1973 7
1997 (4th) 8
Bridget Cherry
Simon Bradley

ISBN 978-0-300-09624-8
London 2: South 1952 9 1983 Bridget Cherry ISBN 978-0-300-09651-4
London 3: North West 1951 10
1952 8
1991 Bridget Cherry ISBN 978-0-300-09652-1
London 4: North 1951 10
1952 8
1998 Bridget Cherry ISBN 978-0-300-09653-8
London 5: East 1952 9 1998 11 Elizabeth Williamson 2004 Bridget Cherry, Charles O'Brien ISBN 978-0-300-10701-2
London 6: Westminster 1957 7
1962 7
1973 7
2003 (4th) 8
Bridget Cherry
Simon Bradley

ISBN 978-0-300-09595-1
Norfolk 1: Norwich and North East 1962 1997 Bill Wilson ISBN 978-0-300-09607-1
Norfolk 2: North-west and South 1962 1999 Bill Wilson ISBN 978-0-300-09657-6
Northamptonshire 1961 1973 Bridget Cherry 2013 Bruce Bailey ISBN 978-0-300-18507-2
Northumberland 1957 (Ian A. Richmond) 12 1992 John Grundy, Grace McCombie, Peter Ryder, Humphrey Welfare ISBN 978-0-300-09638-5
Nottinghamshire* 1951 1979 Elizabeth Williamson ISBN 978-0-300-09636-1
Oxfordshire* 1974 Jennifer Sherwood ISBN 978-0-300-09639-2
Shropshire 1958 2006 John Newman ISBN 978-0-300-09642-2
Somerset: North and Bristol 1958 2011 Andrew Foyle ISBN 978-0-300-09640-8
Somerset: South and West 1958 2014 Julian Orbach ISBN 978-0-300-20740-8
Staffordshire* 1974 ISBN 978-0-300-09646-0
Suffolk* 1961 1974 Enid Radcliffe ISBN 978-0-300-09648-4
Surrey* 1962 Ian Nairn 1971 Bridget Cherry ISBN 978-0-300-09675-0
Sussex* 1965 Ian Nairn ISBN 978-0-300-09677-4
Sussex: East with Brighton and Hove 1965 13 (Ian Nairn) 14 2013 Nicholas Antram ISBN 978-0-300-18473-0
Warwickshire* 1966 Alexandra Wedgwood ISBN 978-0-300-09679-8
Wiltshire* 1963 1975 Bridget Cherry ISBN 978-0-300-09659-0
Worcestershire 1968 2007 Alan Brooks ISBN 978-0-300-11298-6
Yorkshire: The North Riding* 1966 ISBN 978-0-300-09665-1
Yorkshire: The West Riding* 1959 1967 Enid Radcliffe ISBN 978-0-14-071017-5
Yorkshire: The West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North 1959 15 1967 Enid Radcliffe 2009 Peter Leach ISBN 978-0-300-12665-5
Yorkshire: York and The East Riding 1972 1995 David Neave ISBN 978-0-300-09593-7

Notes[edit]

Note 1: First published as Cumberland and Westmorland – see Superseded Volumes.
Note 2: First published as two volumes: North Devon and South Devon – see Superseded Volumes.
Note 3: Sole credited author.
Note 4: First published as Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – see below.
Note 5: First published as Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – see above.
Note 6: First published as Lancashire 1: The Industrial and Commercial South – see Superseded Volumes.
Note 7: First published as London: The Cities of London and Westminster – see Superseded Volumes.
Note 8: Not identified as a Fourth Edition in the text but as a 'successor volume'.
Note 9: First published as London, except the Cities of London and Westminster – see Superseded Volumes.
Note 10: First published as Middlesex – see Superseded Volumes.
Note 11: Docklands area only – See Superseded Volumes.
Note 12: Ian Richmond credited as a contributor rather than co-author.
Note 13: First published as Sussex – see above.
Note 14: Ian Nairn was only indirectly involved in the text under revision in this volume.
Note 15: First published as Yorkshire: The West Riding – see above.

City Guides[edit]

The first of the paperback City Guides, covering Manchester, appeared in 2001. It featured a new format with integrated colour illustrations. In most cases the City Guides have preceded a revision of the county volume in which they are located, although they do go into greater detail than the county volumes and have more illustrations. Thus the Birmingham guide completely supersedes the central Birmingham section of the Warwickshire volume, which is now over forty years old. Two of the guides, covering Newcastle and Gateshead and Hull, are more recent than the hardback editions for the surrounding counties, and therefore update as well as expand the coverage of those cities. This series appears to be on a hiatus, with no new volumes published since 2010 and none confirmed as in planning.

A volume on London's City Churches was published in 1998, and like London Docklands (see Superseded Volumes below) represented preliminary work for an expanded main volume. It is in the format of the main series rather than the City Guides. However, unlike the Docklands volume, which was superseded when London 5: East was published, the City Churches volume (by the nature of its content) remains current and is still in print.

Buildings of Scotland[edit]

The series continued under Pevsner's founding editorship into Scotland. The format is largely similar; however, only Lothian was published in the original small volume style. One noticeable difference in some of the Scottish series is a greater subdivision of the main gazetteer (e.g. in Argyll and Bute mainland Argyll has separate gazetteer from its islands, and Bute similarly is treated on its own). Unlike The Buildings of England, none of the Scottish volumes adopts a hierarchy of ecclesiastical buildings, instead grouping them together. As with the English revisions, several of the volumes are the work of many contributors. As of late 2012, the series is three volumes from completion.

The volumes on Glasgow and Edinburgh are, with Dublin (see below) the only Pevsner volumes outside London to focus exclusively on a city. These volumes should not be confused with the City Guide format (see above).

Buildings of Wales[edit]

The series has also been extended to Wales, and was completed with the issue of Gwynedd in 2009 (although this initial survey had taken seven years longer than Pevsner's first complete survey of England). Only the first volume, Powys (edited by Richard Haslam, and published in 1979) appeared in the original small format style; and this volume has now been superseded by a revised large-format edition, published in 2013. This is the first (and to date only) guide outside The Buildings of England series to be revised.

Buildings of Ireland[edit]

The Irish series is not so far advanced as the others, with only four volumes having being published between 1979 and the present day. Research for several of the intended volumes (as of 2012) has not yet begun.

  • Belfast, Antrim and County Down (in preparation)
  • Connacht/Connaught (in preparation)
  • Dublin (2005) ISBN 978-0-300-10923-8 (Christine Casey)
  • Dublin: County (in preparation)
  • Munster (in preparation)
  • North West Ulster: the Counties of Londonderry, Donegal, Fermanagh and Tyrone (1979) ISBN 978-0-300-09667-5 (Alistair Rowan)
  • North Leinster (1993) ISBN 978-0-300-09668-2 (Alistair Rowan and Christine Casey)
  • South Leinster (in preparation)
  • South Ulster: the Counties of Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan. (2013) ISBN 978-0300186017 (Kevin Mulligan)
  • West Leinster: the Counties of Kildare, Laois and Offaly (in preparation)

Superseded volumes[edit]

The revision of the series has rendered some original volumes obsolete, usually as the area of coverage has changed. To date the following volumes have been entirely superseded:

  • Cumberland and Westmorland (1967)
  • London: the Cities of London and Westminster (1957, rev. 1962 and 1973)
  • London, except the Cities of London and Westminster (1952)
  • London Docklands (1998) (with Elizabeth Williamson)
  • Middlesex (1951)
  • North Lancashire (1969)
  • South Lancashire (1969)

In addition, two volumes, North Devon and South Devon (1952) were superseded by a single volume covering the entire county. Parts of the original Hampshire & the Isle of Wight and Yorkshire: the West Riding volumes have been superseded by revised volumes.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Cherry, Bridget (1998). The Buildings of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales: a short history and bibliography.

External links[edit]