"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

25 April 2017


In the 1980s the architect Quinlan Terry was a bogeyman to much of his profession. Unbendingly traditionalist, he believed that the classical orders were handed down by God. He saw nothing good in modern architecture. He thought that the stainless steel exo-viscera of Richard Rogers’s Lloyds building needed brick walls and a slate roof. His stance also made him a pinup, in his three-piece suit and all, to those who thought that new buildings should like just like old buildings. In the decade when economics were handed down by Margaret Thatcher – for whom, indeed, Terry designed interiors in No 10 Downing Street – and aesthetics by the Prince of Wales, an era when radical finance felt the need to dress itself in the trappings of old England, he was a man of his time.

Well, here we are again, in the reign of another she-Tory and another time of patriotic nostalgia, of the promised return of dark blue passports and a hoped-for relaunch of the royal yacht Britannia. Quinlan Terry is still at it, designing, among other things, country houses in Dorset, Ireland and Kentucky, but now there is also his son Francis, who last year set up his own practice after nearly 20 years working alongside his father. He is carrying out the same type of work as the older Terry – he has country houses on the go in Wiltshire, Norfolk, Hampshire and Ireland, and a mixed-use development in Twickenham – but he has also developed a new line of business, developing counter-proposals, backed by local residents, to overweening developers’ plans in places like Mount Pleasant and West Hampstead, London.

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