One of the ideas raised in BBC Four’s Heritage! series was the idea of romanticism versus academia in the appreciation of historic buildings. Since beginning my work with ruins, I have often asked myself why I am attracted to this particular niche of built heritage, and have now been considering where my interest lies between the romantic and academic.
These diverse standpoints were embodied from the 1950s onwards by two figures I’ve certainly heard of before, but can’t claim to know a great deal about. After watching this programme I’m quite compelled to learn more.
In the romantics corner was John Betjeman, a poet and writer who also used his work in broadcasting to channel his love of old buildings with considerable charisma. His approach was quite different to that of Nikolaus Pevsner, the history of art scholar responsible for the accomplished 46-volume The Buildings of England series of architectural guides. These two men were both among the founding members of The Victorian Society in 1958, but despite their shared admiration of 19th Century architecture they were, in many ways, at opposite ends of the spectrum. Continue reading