Institute of Classical Architecture & Art

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"Make Thy Castles High and Fair": Medieval Castles to Modern Fantasies

Thursday, April 20, 2017; 6:15 P.M.

The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) is pleased to partner with the Royal Oak Foundation to present “Make thy castles high and fair”: Medieval Castles to Modern Fantasies, a lecture with architectural historian Dr. Jonathan Foyle.

What is a “castle”? While the term is now often applied to a stately home to imply monumental scale or status, its use originally indicated a fortified military residence. But to what extent were castles defensible and against whom? What does the use of the “castle” style mean in architecture when it is applied to churches—such as the western block of Lincoln Cathedral—or civic buildings? If Cardinal Wolsey was never a warrior, why does Hampton Court (1515-28) look like a castle, complete with a moat? Architectural historian Dr. Jonathan Foyle will explore the shifting associations in castle design over the last thousand years, as well as illustrate their changing purpose. He will revisit the events of the Norman Conquest and demonstrate how the religious and political purposes of buildings later changed to become a representation of this new authority—such as the early medieval castle Bodiam in Sussex (a National Trust property). He will explain how Britain’s castles gave way to palatial residences when social and cultural values changed during the 16th and 17th century. He will also show how romantic rather than defensible associations with castles emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries. Georgian and Victorian designs such as Penrhyn Castle, Wales or Wray Castle, Cumbria (both NT) indeed inform our modern preconception today.

Dr. Jonathan Foyle was a Curator of Historic Buildings at Hampton Court for eight years, and took his Ph.D. on reconstructing Wolsey’s palace prior to Henry VIII’s adoption of it. Having headed the British branch of the New York-based World Monuments Fund for eight years at projects including Coventry and St. Paul’s Cathedrals, Stowe House and Hawksmoor’s St. George’s Church in Bloomsbury, he is now an author, presenter and consultant. Since 2012, he has been a frequent writer for the Financial Times on issues of architecture, history and craft, and is currently completing his fourth cathedral monograph: Canterbury, Lincoln, Lichfield- now Peterborough. A presenter of numerous series on UK and US television, including BBC’s 15-part Climbing Great Buildings – he co-presents a new series, Restoration of the Year on Channel 4 this spring. He lives in an old house in Somerset, near Bath.

Location: The General Society Library, 20 West 44th Street
Cost/Reservations: $30 members of the ICAA and the Royal Oak Foundation; $40 non-members. To register, click here.