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The Architecture of Sharpe, Paley and Austin [Hardcover]

Geoff Brandwood
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £50.00
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Book Description

21 May 2012
One of England's greatest Victorian architectural practices was based, not in London, but in the relatively quiet town of Lancaster. For just over a century the leading practice in the area was that of Sharpe, Paley and Austin. It was founded, just at the start of the Victorian Gothic Revival, by the remarkable, multi-talented Edmund Sharpe - architect, engineer, businessman, politician and winner of the Royal Institute of British Architect's Royal Gold Medal for his work in architectural history. E G Paley developed the practice and took on in 1867 the man who elevated it to greatness - Hubert Austin, described as an architect of genius by Pevsner. The firm established a national reputation, especially for its many fine churches, ranging from great urban masterpieces to delightful country ones, which are imbued with the spirit of the Arts & Crafts movement. The practice was extraordinarily prolific and took on commissions for almost every imaginable building type - country houses, railways, schools, factories, an asylum and commercial premises in addition to the churches. The book explores with the aid of Austin's great-grandson, not only the firm's buildings but also a fascinating web of family and professional interconnections which provide the backdrop to the story. It is richly illustrated, including family photographs never previously published. This treatment will appeal to architectural historians, students of the architecture of the Victorian and Edwardian eras and social historians.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: English Heritage (21 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184802049X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848020498
  • Product Dimensions: 27.7 x 22.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 724,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'An impressive selection of archival collections and inclusion of little-known historic material testify to the principal author's dedication, patience and research acumen' -- Ayla Lepine 'This long-awaited exposition is the most comprehensive account of Paley & Austin to date, and will remain the standard work of reference for many decades. It is a complex story, eloquently unravelled' -- Julian Litten 'Published by English Heritage, the book's thoroughness and detail make it a remarkable account of how one firm and its principals influenced the architectural landscape of the North West, giving an interesting insight into Victorian history and legacy.' -- Sian Peters This is the first serious account of one of the greatest of all Northern architectural practices. Ancient Monuments Society Newsletter, Autumn 2012

About the Author

Geoff Brandwood is an architectural historian and a Former Chairman of the Victorian Society.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Stephen
The firm of Sharpe, Paley and Austin was one of the most distinguished firms outside London in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It thoroughly deserved a 'proper' architectural monograph - and here it is. The architectural writer Geoff Brandwood has put together a detailed account of the firm's work and how it changed and developed, and the illustrations are excellent, including many new photographs.

Geoff Brandwood is at his best when he describes the characteristic features of the firm's work, for example the prominent towers of the churches, and the carved panels (of very high quality) found in many of Hubert Austin's works. But there is material here new to me, such as Edmund Sharpe's tendency to the Romanesque (contrasting with his scholarly work on the Gothic), and Austin's adoption of the late-19c practice of having arches die into piers without capitals. One could perhaps have done with rather less detail on all the family relationships, but the architecture is the thing.

This is an expensive book, and it is a pity that there are some conspicuous typos ('fiercesome' on p.152!), a completely mislabelled illustration, and the use of Chapter 1's running heads in Chapter 3. But the general impression is good, and if this book spreads awareness of the fine work done by this Lancaster firm, then that is no more than the firm deserves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow-up to Stephen's review 21 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Regarding Stephen's reference to running heads of chapter 3 being those of chapter 1, English Heritage withdrew the first print-run early on and did a complete reprint. To quote from an English Heritage email: "We became aware of the mistake very soon after the book arrived from the printers; however a small number of copies were released into the trade before we had put the stock on hold". As you have one of those you could get it replaced by EH free of charge, as I did.
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