I spent most of my academic career at the University of Bristol teaching architectural history and garden and landscape history. I am retained at Bristol as Emeritus Professor of History of Architecture & Designed Landscapes. My publications in the 1980s and 1990s focused on architectural history and biography – Cromwellian architecture, gate lodges to country houses, the Druidic influences on John Wood’s creation of Georgian Bath, revisionist biographies of William Beckford and Horace Walpole – but after setting up the MA in Garden History at Bristol in 2000, I embarked on a survey of the historic gardens of each English county. I managed 14 books before I ran out of steam; the last was The Historic Gardens of Hampshire, published in 2016. I have recently returned to architecture, and the latest book, due out in October 2023, is Unbuilt Bath – the city as it might have been, a study of architectural schemes for Bath which never got past the drawing board like Sir James Dyson’s ultra-modern School of Design Innovation and an extraordinary masterplan for Bath Rugby Club based on the Colosseum in Rome.
While at Bristol I supervised many research students and, now at the RAU, I welcome approaches from prospective applicants on the PhD and MScR programmes who are interested in all aspects of our cultural heritage, particularly the built environment, and have a passion to study the country house and its estate, garden and landscape history and architectural history. Most research is carried out in private houses and public record offices, but just as important is directed investigation on the ground. My mantra for students who might come to Cirencester to work with me is, think ‘Muddy Wellies and Dusty Archives’.