Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings

Ask a question about 'Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings'
Start a new discussion about 'Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) (sometimes known as Anti-Scrape) was founded by William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

, Philip Webb
Philip Webb
Another Philip Webb — Philip Edward Webb was the architect son of leading architect Sir Aston Webb. Along with his brother, Maurice, he assisted his father towards the end of his career....

 and J.J.Stevenson, and other notable members of the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood, in 1877, to oppose what they saw as the insensitive renovation of ancient buildings then occurring in Victorian
Victorian architecture
The term Victorian architecture refers collectively to several architectural styles employed predominantly during the middle and late 19th century. The period that it indicates may slightly overlap the actual reign, 20 June 1837 – 22 January 1901, of Queen Victoria. This represents the British and...

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...


Morris was particularly concerned about the practice, which he described as "forgery", of attempting to restore buildings to an idealised state from the distant past, which often involved the removal of elements added in their later development and which Morris saw as adding to their interest as documents of the past. Instead, he proposed that ancient buildings should be protected, not restored, so that their entire history would be preserved as cultural heritage
Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations...

. A major debate had taken place over the "restoration" of Chester Cathedral
Chester Cathedral
Chester Cathedral is the mother church of the Church of England Diocese of Chester, and is located in the city of Chester, Cheshire, England. The cathedral, formerly St Werburgh's abbey church of a Benedictine monastery, is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary...

 which was more like rebuilding than restoration. Samuel Huggins
Samuel Huggins
Samuel Huggins was an English architect and writer. Huggins' defence of Classical architecture and opposition to a proposed restoration of Chester Cathedral led to the formation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.-Biography:...

, a leading local architect, who led the Chester critics is also credited with founding this society. J.J. Stevenson set out SPAB's ideals in 'Architectural Restoration: its principals and practice', published in that 1877, the publication was controversial and Stevenson was somewhat belatedly admitted FRIBA in 1879.

Today, SPAB still operates according to Morris's original manifesto. It publishes books, and runs courses and a telephone advice line. Under the Planning Acts the Society must be notified of all applications in England and Wales to demolish in whole or part any listed building. It currently has 8,700 members (2007).

The Society also has a branch in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, and the Mills Section, which is the only British national body concerned with the preservation, repair and continued use of traditional windmill
A windmill is a machine which converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Originally windmills were developed for milling grain for food production. In the course of history the windmill was adapted to many other industrial uses. An important...

s and watermill
A watermill is a structure that uses a water wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process such as flour, lumber or textile production, or metal shaping .- History :...


The society, which is a registered charity, is based at 37 Spital Square, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

London E1
The E postcode area, also known as the London E postcode area, is the part of the London post town covering part of east London, England and also Sewardstone in Essex.-Postal administration:...

 6DY, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...


See also

  • Somerset Buildings Preservation Trust
    Somerset Buildings Preservation Trust
    The Somerset Buildings Preservation Trust works to save the architectural heritage of Somerset, England.The Trust is an independent body and consists of up to 18 Trustees who hold Board meetings 3 times a year. It is a Building Preservation Trust with charitable status and a company limited by...

  • Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust
    Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust
    The Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust is a charitable organization which works to preserve the architectural heritage of Wiltshire, in the West of England.-History:...

  • Marianne Suhr
    Marianne Suhr
    Marianne Suhr MRICS is an English chartered surveyor, writer, and expert on historic buildings. She co-presented the television series Restoration with Ptolemy Dean and Griff Rhys Jones.-Work:...

  • Ken Major
    Ken Major
    John Kenneth Major ARIBA, FSA, popularly known as Ken Major was an architect, author and world authority on industrial archaeology, particularly windmills, watermills and animal powered machines. As an author, he was known as J Kenneth Major.-Early life:Ken Major was born in Reading, Berkshire on...

  • Scottish Civic Trust
    Scottish Civic Trust
    The Scottish Civic Trust is a registered charity. Founded in 1967, and based in the Category A listed Tobacco Merchants House in Glasgow, the Trust aims to provide "leadership and focus in the protection, enhancement and development of Scotland's built environment"...

  • Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland
    Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland
    The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland is a society dedicated to the protection and study of the built heritage of Scotland. It has around 1100 members and six regional groups responsible for commenting on planning applications in their area together with educational activities...

External links