Mark Girouard obituary

Architectural historian who wrote extensively on stately homes and campaigned to save the Georgian houses of Spitalfields Mark Girouard, who has died aged 90, was Britain’s most readable architectural historian, a great authority on Elizabethan and Victorian architecture whose extensive writings used the study of buildings to illuminate the social life of the past. The publication of Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History in 1978 captured the zeitgeist in a period when stately homes were being repurposed as sites of mass leisure. It sold more than 140,000 copies in hardback. When Girouard started his career the study of architectural history in Britain was dominated by the German-trained Nikolaus Pevsner, for whom the discipline was essentially about tracking artistic styles through intense formal and spatial analysis. In contrast, Girouard’s books placed buildings within their cultural, social and intellectual milieu. The results were scholarly, but also immensely fun, gossipy and stylish. Continue reading...

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