Pevsnering around Somerset, with Julian Orbach

Julian Orbach is revising Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's Buildings of England for South & West Somerset, originally written in 1958


To do this Julian has been trawling through the county south of the Mendips looking at everything and anything that might loosely be called architecture to make a place-by-place picture of the qualities and strangeness of Somerset buildings. This includes the Ebenezer Chapel itself, and many other wonders - though none so distinguished as Ebenezer's own noble edifice, of course.

The magisterial Sir Nikolaus Pevsner watches over his shoulder. Pevsner, the great master of terse description, completed his work on Somerset in one academic summer holiday. In his talk, Julian will explain why it has taken him three years to perform the same task - and he has still not finished!

The answer lies in the people he has met, and their capacity for making short visits long, and in the fact that simple buildings reveal themselves to be far from simple upon investigation. Julian will, therefore, be describing a work in progress, showing things found, questions asked and even sometimes answered!


Julian Orbach

Julian has had a long and illustrious career in historic buildings. He was Architectural Advisor to the Victorian Society, during which period he worked with Pevsner, in the last years of Pevsner's career. Over many years, Julian has compiled lists of historic buildings in Wiltshire and Wales.

Julian wrote the Blue Guide to Victorian Architecture and has been co-author on the three western volumes of the Buildings of Wales, covering Pembrokeshire to Anglesey. While doing this he founded an ecological commune in the Preseli Hills and learnt Welsh. He is an honorary member of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales. Julian has an unfinished thesis on 'The Palazzo Revival in British Nineteenth Century Architecture' for which he learnt Italian and went on a course with Anthony Blunt. Ebenezer eagerly anticipates many revelations!

2012Martin Keeley