Monday, June 9, 2008

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was originally founded in 1877 by William Morris and several leading members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Affectionately referred to by Morris and his pals as "Anti-Scrape," the society was founded with the goal of preventing England's ancient buildings from being destroyed in "restoration" projects.

The SPAB's work is guided by a number of principles, the chief of which is the maxim "repair, not restore." The Society believes that "age can confer a beauty of its own." Moreover, gentle signs of aging on a building "are qualities to care for, not blemishes to be eradicated." This philosophy has had a major influence on how many of us view historic preservation today.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Building's emphasis on repairing--rather than restoring--buildings has gradually become the rule when it comes to architectural preservation. Most curators now adhere to the SPAB's philosophy of preserving the integrity of historical structures, but the SPAB's influence is not limited to academic circles. The society's legacy can also be seen in thee fact that many homeowners and lovers of antique objects have begun to prize preservation over restoration. Interestingly, if you're a fan of antique-appraisal shows like "Antiques Roadshow" you'll see that this approach now applies to antiques as well (furniture that displays it's original finish is always much more valuable).

Today, the SPAB has over 7,500 members and is active in educating homeowners about how to go about repairing their homes. They also provide advice on how to repair churches and other historical landmarks. Be sure to take a look at their website to find out more!

3 comments:

M.KATE said...

Wish they have something similar here, they dont take care of old buildings so well :(

Melanie said...

How did the thesis defence go?

In Oxfordshire several churches were repaired by the Victorians but not very well, so money was being looked for to repair the repairs as sympathetically as possible.

There was a castle ruin being turned into a home on "Grand Designs" where all the new walls were made with concrete blocks so that in the future there would be no confusion about which was original. Sorry I can't remember which society advised this alongside the council.

Margaret said...

Thanks for asking, Melanie! My defense went splendidly! I'm all done--I can hardly believe it!