Welcome to Pevsner

Welcome to the home of Pevsner Architectural Guides - part of the Yale London website. "Yale University Press deserves all the plaudits it has already received for perpetuating the series and bringing it as close to perfection as is possible in an imperfect world." —Ferdinand Mount, TLS

About Pevsner Guides

"The greatest endeavour of popular architectural scholarship in the world." —Jonathan Meades, The Observer

The Pevsner Architectural Guides, were begun in 1951 by the architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-83) with the aim of providing an up-to-date portable guide to the most significant buildings in every part of the country, suitable for both general reader and specialist. The success of the volumes covering The Buildings of England led to the extension of the series to Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each volume provides an introductory overview of the architecture of the area, followed by a descriptive gazetteer arranged alphabetically by place. Whilst cathedrals and their furnishings, great country houses and their parks form the grand set pieces, the books demonstrate the enjoyable diversity of architecture in the British Isles in accounts of rural churches and farmsteads, Victorian public buildings and industrial monuments.

A continuing programme of new editions keeps the series up-to-date with new information on older buildings and recent architecture while maintaining the tradition of Pevsner's own succinct accounts. Each book has over 100 photographs, mostly specially commissioned, numerous maps and plans, a glossary and indexes.

To contact the Pevsner team email: pevsner@yaleup.co.uk - www.lookingatbuildings.org is a resource from the Pevsner Architectural Guides and the Buildings Books Trust with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund

Pevsner History

Pevsner Architectural Guides is celebrating its 60th Anniversary in 2011. None of this would have been possible without one man...

Nikolaus Pevsner, an art historian of European standing, conceived the idea of English architectural guidebooks after he settled in England in the 1930s. At that time architectural history was hardly recognised as a serious academic subject, nor was trustworthy architectural information readily available for the traveller. The success and achievement of his aim eventually became possible with the assistance and enthusiasm of Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books, for whom Pevsner had written his Outline of European Architecture in 1942. Lane provided Pevsner with the means to begin research for the books in 1945 with the help of two part time research assistants, both German refugee art historians, and a secretary. For the next twenty five years a pattern was established whereby an assistant worked for around a year on each county, preparing notes from published sources. During the Easter and Summer university vacations, then armed with fat folders of half-foolscap sheets, Pevsner set off to visit two counties, driven by his wife and, after her death in 1963, by others, usually students at London University or the Courtauld Institute of Art.

The tours, initially made in a 1933 Wolseley Hornet borrowed from Penguin, began in 1947 with Middlesex. The first book, on Cornwall, appeared in 1951, the forty-sixth, and last, on Staffordshire, in 1974. A first draft was written immediately after each long day's visit, a feat of prodigious energy (hence the dedication of one of the volumes "to those publicans and hoteliers of England who provide me with a table in my bedroom to scribble on".) As soon as the travelling was finished, Pevsner shut himself away for a week to write the Introduction while everything was still fresh in his mind. These lively essays on the development of architecture in each county, written by a scholar up to date with the latest art-historical scholarship, were another feature which set the series on quite a different level from previous guidebooks.

Pevsner was unable to devote much more than a month to visiting each county and the speed at which the books were prepared inevitably led to errors and omissions. Each volume invited readers to send in comments and publication, and was immediately followed by a shower of letters eagerly drawing attention to anything from minor misprints to the relatively rare absence of whole villages or substantial houses. As the work became more demanding and time-consuming it became essential for Pevsner to share the writing with others. In the end, thirty-two of the books were written by Pevsner alone, ten together with collaborators, and four were delegated to others, all of whom made their own valuable contribution to the series.

To contact the Pevsner team email: pevsner@yaleup.co.uk - www.lookingatbuildings.org is a resource from the Pevsner Architectural Guides and the Buildings Books Trust with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund

From the 1960s onwards more information was available to be consulted and new research began to make the emphases of the early volumes appear a little unbalanced. Although from the beginning the books had broken new ground by covering all periods of architecture, the greatest space had been devoted to medieval churches and their furnishings. Secular buildings, with some notable exceptions, had been treated more summarily. Revisions, before and since Pevsner's death, have continued to take advantage of developments in architectural scholarship. The scope of the series has been broadened and deepened by the transformation of our understanding of the post-medieval centuries, the research into architecture and urban planning of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the wealth of interest in both rural vernacular buildings and the surviving structures of Britain's industrial past. A younger generation have a greater interest in cinemas and Art Deco factories, and there is an ever growing supply of even more recent architecture to be recorded. The results are more inclusive, but the aim remains the same: to present to a broad public up-to-date and accessible information about the most significant buildings in the country whilst always keeping under review the definition of "significant."

The Guides

There are more than 80 volumes in the Pevsner Architectural Guides Series, with new editions being revised and published every year...

The Pevsner Architectural Guides were founded by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (1902–1983). There are four series: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Each county volume comprises a gazetteer describing the buildings of significance, accompanied by maps, plans, and more than 100 specially commissioned photographs; an informative introduction explains the broader context

The series also includes paperback City Guides, as well as the acclaimed Pevsner Architectural Glossary. Click on the links below to view the complete series.

Yale also publish a wide range of other Architecture titles. Click here to view a comprehensive list.

Read the 2021-22 Pevsner Architectural Guides Newsletter here.

Sign up for Pevsner news and offers here.

Work in Progress

Work continues to provide unrivalled coverage of the nation's buildings through a series of revised and new editions...

To keep up to date with Pevsner's new releases as well as other architectural news, you can follow Pevsner on Twitter under the username @yalepevsner or you can like our Facebook page.

Forthcoming in 2021

County Durham

Forthcoming in 2022

Birmingham and the Black Country Yorkshire: North Riding
Isle of Man

Forthcoming in 2023

South Staffordshire
Lothian (2nd edition)

To find out more about forthcoming Pevsner Guides, contact the team: pevsner@yaleup.co.uk

Pevsner Glossary App

For iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, the app includes the following features:

  • Definitions of more than a thousand architectural terms
  • Choice of search methods
  • Clear explanatory line drawings
  • Superb colour images supporting definitions
  • Map locations for individual buildings
  • Linked cross-references and bookmarks
  • Audio pronunciation feature

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Pevsner Map

Pevsner Roundel: Northumbria

Use the map below to find out which locations
are covered in the Pevsner Architectural Guides series...

Click on the locations to read more about the books...

Open the map in a new window


Buildings of EnglandBuildings of England
Buildings of ScotlandBuildings of Scotland 
Buildings of WalesBuildings of Wales
Buildings of IrelandBuildings of Ireland
City GuidesPevsner City Guides

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