Simon Thurley on English architecture from 1530 to 1650, The Reformation and the Civil War, two events a century apart, that created an astonishing originality and independence in English Building.
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.
Style of architecture, reflecting the rebirth of Classical culture, that originated in Florence in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe, replacing the medieval Gothic style. There was a revival of ancient Roman forms, including the column and round arch, the tunnel vault, and the dome. The basic design element was the order. Knowledge of Classical architecture came from the ruins of ancient buildings and the writings of Vitruvius. As in the Classical period, proportion was the most important factor of beauty; Renaissance architects found a harmony between human proportions and buildings. This concern for proportion resulted in clear, easily comprehended space and mass, which distinguishes the Renaissance style from the more complex Gothic. Filippo Brunelleschi is considered the first Renaissance architect. Leon Battista Alberti's Ten Books on Architecture, inspired by Vitruvius, became a bible of Renaissance architecture. From Florence the early Renaissance style spread through Italy. Donato Bramante's move to Rome ushered in the High Renaissance (c. 150020). Mannerism, the style of the Late Renaissance (15201600), was characterized by sophistication, complexity, and novelty rather than the harmony, clarity, and repose of the High Renaissance. The Late Renaissance also saw much architectural theorizing, with Sebastiano Serlio (14751554), Giacomo da Vignola (15071573), and Andrea Palladio publishing influential books.