Alec Clifton-Taylor

Alec Clifton-Taylor

Alec Clifton-Taylor OBE (2 August 1907 – 1 April 1985) was a noted English architectural historian, writer and broadcaster.

Biography and works

Clifton-Taylor was educated at Bishop's Stortford College and The Queen's College, Oxford, and went on to the Courtauld Institute of Art.

His best-known and most influential book is "The Pattern of English Building" (1962) (ISBN 0-571-14890-5), an early examination of the architectural vernacular: it approaches its subject through the building materials, and methods, specific to particular areas of England. Two of his other books are studies of ecclesiastical architecture: "The Cathedrals of England" and "English Parish Churches as Works of Art". Along with Nikolaus Pevsner (to whose "Buildings of England" series he was a contributor) and John Betjeman, Clifton-Taylor is considered one of the three most significant figures in the study of English churches.Jenkins, S. and Barker, P. "England's Thousand Best Churches", Penguin, 2000, ISBN 978-0140297959]

Clifton-Taylor gained his greatest public recognition late in life through his work for the BBC. After being introduced through Pevsner to BBC arts producer John Drummond, Clifton-Taylor presented a series of eight television programmes on British architecture, "The Spirit of the Age", from 1974-1975. [ Obituary, Sir John Drummond] , Daily Telegraph, 09-09-2006] He went on to present three extremely popular series of half-hour BBC programmes: "Six English Towns" (1977), "Six More English Towns", and "Another Six English Towns" (1984), in which he visited Chichester, Richmond, Tewkesbury, Stamford, Totnes, Ludlow, Warwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Saffron Walden, Lewes, Bradford on Avon, Beverley, Cirencester, Whitby, Bury St Edmunds, Devizes, Sandwich and Durham, discussing their architectural character and evolution in an opinionated though accessible (and often gently humorous) style. Each series was accompanied by its own book.

Clifton-Taylor believed that local materials had to be used if building was to look 'right', and was therefore critical of much Victorian and subsequent architecure, erected after the railways had facilitated the transport of cheaper materials alien to a particular locale.

He lived in Kensington, West London, for much of his life, and was president of the Kensington Society, an organisation devoted to preserving the borough's architecture and open spaces. The Alec Clifton-Taylor Memorial Garden is located at St Mary Abbotts in Kensington. [ St.Mary Abbotts and Alec Clifton Taylor Memorial Gardens] , Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, accessed 29-09-2008]


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