Past Exhibitions

First and Last Loves John Betjeman and Architecture

An exhibition in the Soane Gallery from 8 September to 30 December 2006

The Soane Museum is delighted to announce a major new exhibition celebrating the architectural writings, recordings and films of the poet Sir John Betjeman (1906 - 1984). The exhibition, which marks the centenary of Betjeman's birth, will bring together rare archive material, photographic and film footage as well as original art work from Betjeman's friends and contemporaries such as John Piper, in a celebration of his life-long passion for architecture.

From his bicycle tours of Victorian North Oxford as a young student, to his hard-fought campaigns to save endangered masterpieces such as St Pancras Station in the 1960s, architecture remained Betjeman's great love. Following a spell at the Architectural Review in the 1930s, he went on to edit the iconic Shell Guides and, after the war, became increasingly well known as for his television work - his long, successful career as a broadcaster reaching its peak with his classic film Metro-land.

As well as encouraging a better understanding of Britain's greatest towns and buildings Betjeman was a tireless promoter of the marginal, the overlooked and the obscure. His love for Victoriana (he was a founder member of the Victorian Society in 1958) and his passionate pleas to preserve Britain's railway architecture is credited with instigating the great revival of interest in buildings of the 19th century.

A major new catalogue, featuring contributions by Dan Cruickshank, Alan Powers, Ruth Guilding, Mark Girouard, Anthony Symondson, Gavin Stamp, Edward Mirzoeff and Ptolemy Dean, will be published to accompany the exhibition.

For those who are familiar with Betjeman's work this exhibition will provide a feast of new material and a rare opportunity to view vintage footage. For those unfamiliar with the man it will provide an irresistible introduction to one of the greatest architectural writers and broadcasters of the 20th century.

74-page colour exhibition catalogue with essays by Mark Girouard, Ruth Guilding, Gavin Stamp, Ptolemy Dean, Anthony Symondson, Edward Mirzoeff and Dan Cruickshank available from the Museum Shop