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John Colvin RIP

When John Colvin, who has just died, began researching his Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1660-1840 in the 1950s, architectural history in Britain was in some disarray -

He found the verger of Malmesbury Abbey tearing out pages from the churchwardens' accounts to light his pipe...Colvin also had to cope with thefts of drawings from important archives, with the funerary monuments to architects being destroyed, with so many buildings being demolished unrecorded before he had a chance to see them: all these,' he recalled, 'added a melancholy excitement to the pursuit of architectural history in the earlier years of the century and are not wholly unknown even today.'

Generous in his acknowledgement of sources, assiduous in collecting information in his "minuscule handwriting" on notecards, he was putting the finishing touches to the fourth edition of his definitive reference just weeks ago.

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Colvin liked Georgian architecture. Though we know so much less than he did, so do we.

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