The Second World War intensified and magnified debates that had been current amongst architects since 1914. It also marks a fault line in English architectural history. Architects, supported by politicians, decisively moved away from tradition and sought to create a new language of architecture. Some loved it, but unfortunately the public grew to hate it.
This is a part of the lecture series, English Architecture: Into the Modern World.
Simon Thurley's four lectures complete his survey of English building from the Saxons to the present day. The theme is modernity and tradition. This is the story of how British architects struggled to find an architectural language that met the needs and aspirations of a society in a state of rapid change while negotiating deep and popular traditions and beliefs. Two World Wars shook the nation producing the seemingly contradictory emotions of nostalgia and progress. Out of this has come the world in which we live.
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:
Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently nearly 1,500 lectures free to access or download from the website.
Visiting Gresham Professor of the Built Environment and a leading architectural historian, Dr. Thurley is a regular broadcaster on television and radio and is the Chief Executive of English Heritage, the Government's principal advisor on the historic environment in England.
English Heritage aims to protect and promote England's historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood. It manages what is in effect the national collection of ancient monuments and historic buildings, with the 400 and more sites ranging from Stonehenge to Dover Castle. Within this, Professor Thurley is particularly interested in making heritage protection fairer and more effective, and in making sure that England's heritage plays a positive role in improving the quality of people's lives.
Prior to joining English Heritage in 2002, he served as the Director of the Museum of London, the world's largest city museum. Between 1990 to 1997 he was the Curator and Main Board Member of Historic Royal Palaces, the organization is responsible for Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House, Whitehall and Kew Palace.
He is Honorary Fellow and Visiting Professor of London Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society. He is an honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. He is and has been the President of a number of archaeological and historical societies and is Chairman of the Society for Court Studies and serves on the Council of St. Paul's Cathedral. He received his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, where he wrote on English Royal Palaces 1450-1550.