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Title: William Newton (1730-1798) and the development of the architectural profession in north-east England
Authors: Pears, Richard Malcolm
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis examines the emergence of the professional architect in the provinces of eighteenth-century Britain, drawing upon new research into the career of William Newton (1730-1798) of Newcastle upon Tyne. Section I assesses the growth of professionalism, identifying the criteria that distinguished professions from other occupations and their presence in architectural practitioners. It contrasts historians’ emphasis upon innovative designs by artist-architects, such as Sir John Vanbrugh and Robert Adam, with their absence from the realisation of their designs. Clients had to employ capable building craftsmen to supervise construction and this was an opportunity for an alternative practitioner to emerge, the builder-architect exemplified by Newton, offering clients proven practical experience, frequent supervision, peer group recommendation and financial responsibility. Patronage networks were a critical factor in securing commissions for provincial builder-architects, demonstrated here by a reconstruction of Newton’s connections to the north-east élite. Section II reveals that the coal-based north-east economy sustained architectural expenditure, despite national fluctuations. A major proposal of this thesis is that, contrary to Borsay’s theory of an ‘English urban renaissance’, north-east towns showed continuity and slow development. Instead, expenditure was focused upon élite social spaces and industrial infrastructure, and by the extensive repurposing of the hinterlands around towns. This latter development constituted a ‘rural renaissance’ as commercial wealth created country estates for controlled access to social pursuits by élite families. Section III examines the designs of architects practising in north-east England during the eighteenth century, proposing that the martial history and cultural traditions of the region sustained the appeal of castellated and Roman architecture (as interpreted in the publications of Andrea Palladio) among its architectural patrons. The thesis concludes that ii concentration upon London-based artist-architects has obscured the contribution to British architecture of provincial builder-architects and the varied cultural aspirations of their clients.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Historical Studies

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