A river under the streets: Gillian Darley applauds the latest instalment of a heroic scholarly endeavour, The Survey of London, begun over a century ago

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Author: Gillian Darley
Date: Jan. 2009
From: Apollo(Vol. 169, Issue 561)
Publisher: Apollo Magazine Ltd.
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,112 words

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The Survey of London, volumes XLVI and XLVII: South and East Clerkenwell and Northern Clerkenwell and Pentonville

YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 135 [pounds sterling]

ISBN 9780300140637

In 1894 the demolition of the 'Old Palace at Bromley-by-Bow energised the maverick designer C.R. Ashbee to gather a committee to log London s vulnerable historic buildings. Modernisation of the urban infrastructure was ravaging the city's ancient fabric. The next threat to catch Ashbee's eye and campaigning skills was on the doorstep of his utopian Guild of Handicraft in London's East End. The imminent destruction of the Trinity Hospital on Mile End Road, a quadrangle of 1690s almshouses and chapel, galvanised Ashbee and his survey committee into print and the hospital was saved.

The published result, volume 1 of The Survey of London, was as much about people as architecture, illustrated by lovingly recorded details of the building interspersed with drawings of old sea dogs, barrow boys and market traders. With its publication and a growing recognition of the scale of attrition of historic buildings, lost without adequate record, the new London County Council was persuaded to add its resources to Ashbee's efforts. In 1900 the first full parish volume, Bromley-by-Bow, appeared. Since then the Survey, like a precious vessel, has sailed from institution to institution and is now moored within English Heritage. It consists of 47 survey volumes and several monographs on individual buildings; all except the latest are online.

Unlike the other British world leader in the field, Pevsner's Buildings of England (and now Scotland, Wales and Ireland), The Survey of London is the result of collective and anonymous scholarship. As a result, the contributors' work merges into a seamless whole....

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Source Citation
Darley, Gillian. "A river under the streets: Gillian Darley applauds the latest instalment of a heroic scholarly endeavour, The Survey of London, begun over a century ago." Apollo, vol. 169, no. 561, Jan. 2009, pp. 89+. Accessed 28 Nov. 2021.
  

Gale Document Number: GALE|A192849935