gardenBrought up in East Anglia, on the Essex-Suffolk borders, I seem to drift east by preference and have a liking for the horizontal landscape under a towering sky. London has been my home since I became a student but Essex is still my escape valve.

It was just after I graduated in art history, my strongest interest having always been architecture, that I discovered my father’s family were stonemasons, artisan craftsmen, builders, small-time developers and, eventually, architects in and around Dublin up to the mid 19th century. Later I took a masters in Politics and Administration, to unravel the processes and policies that lead to planning and architectural outcomes.  I write about architecture, landscape and topography, old and new buildings of quality, utopian and unlikely places, admirable lives and the achievements of determined women and men.

I don’t draw a hard line between past and present. I was the architectural correspondent for the Observer in the same decade that I chaired the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), my monthly column for BD online sits with being President of the Twentieth Century Society. Whether writing or teaching, broadcasting or researching, working professionally or voluntarily, I combine my understanding of the aspirations of the present with my interest in the achievements of the past; they seem inseparable.

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