Wren’s Burford Masons : Unsung Heroes of 17th and early 18th century English architecture book cover
1st Edition

Wren’s Burford Masons
Unsung Heroes of 17th and early 18th century English architecture

  • Available for pre-order on June 2, 2023. Item will ship after June 23, 2023
ISBN 9781032414935
June 23, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
248 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations

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USD $170.00

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Book Description

This book shows, for the first time, the indispensable role of the Burford Masons, a group of master masons from the historic quarries around Burford, Oxfordshire, in creating some of the foremost buildings of the 17th and early 18th centuries.

The Burford Masons were involved in the construction of such outstanding buildings as St Paul's Cathedral, City churches, and Blenheim Palace, among many others. Whilst credit for many of these buildings generally rests with named architects, Sir Christopher Wren in particular, this book shows how reliant these designers were on their master craftsmen, sometimes involving them in the design process as their ideas evolved. The book further shows how the Burford Masons responded to the challenge of late payments, often of many years, becoming financiers in the process. It reveals how, as risk-taking businessmen, they effectively underpinned both public and private development financially, and how extraordinary success transformed their lives.

The reader will learn about the vital part played in the early modern period by master craftsmen of the calibre of the Burford Masons, despite the emergence of the architect as lead designer, whose fame has hitherto overshadowed them.  As a result, this book will be a compelling read for anyone interested in architectural, construction or social history.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


  1. Beginnings in the Burford area
  2. Burford quarries and stone
  3. Delivering the stone
  4. Regional masons 1631-66
  5. London 1667-72
  6. City church rebuilding 1672-1700
  7. Changing the London skyline 1700-25
  8. St Paul’s Cathedral: I
  9. St Paul’s Cathedral: II
  10. The Queen Anne churches
  11. Other London work
  12. The City mason
  13. Royal work 1683-1729
  14. Blenheim Palace 1705-12
  15. Co-financing the rebuilding
  16. The Strongs’ work in the provinces post-1666
  17. The Kempsters’ work in the provinces post-1666
  18. The country mason
  19. Reaping the rewards
  20. Envoi: making sense of it all

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Melody Mobus is an independent architectural historian who practised as a Chartered Surveyor in Oxford before obtaining her doctorate. She is the author of "The Burford School of Masons" published in Oxoniensia, and delivered a paper on surviving late payments at the first conference of the Construction History Society, at Queens College, Cambridge.