The Kerry Downes Archive

  • 27 January 2022

The Paul Mellon Centre is delighted to announce that it has acquired the Kerry Downes Archive. The collection consists of over two hundred files containing material created and collected by Kerry John Downes (1930–2019), an architectural historian and author, throughout his career. Most notably it includes extensive correspondence with many of the UK’s leading architectural historians of the post-war period.

Downes (1930–2019) studied at the Courtauld Institute where he was awarded his PhD on Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1960. He was appointed lecturer at the University of Reading in 1966, becoming Professor, History of Art in 1978 and retiring Emeritus in 1991. He published widely, producing seminal texts on Nicholas Hawksmoor, Sir Christopher Wren and Sir John Vanbrugh. Concerned with many architectural conservation and planning projects, he served on the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England from 1981–1993 and was appointed OBE in 1994.

The archive comprises material created and collected by Downes throughout his career and reflects both his academic work and his personal life. The majority of the material relates specifically to his teaching, research and published works on English baroque architectural history, particularly the architecture of Hawksmoor, Wren and Vanbrugh. Alongside extensive correspondence with colleagues, friends and publishers, it also includes a collection of historic architectural photographs.

The collection, kindly donated to the Centre by Anthony Geraghty in 2021, enhances the Centre’s holdings in this area – joining papers of other architectural historians including Howard Colvin and Paul Joyce.

The Downes Archive has not yet been catalogued, but a boxlist is available and the material is open for consultation. For more information on the Paul Mellon collections see here.