I have written eleven single authored books and dozens of academic articles and many other pieces. The five most important books I have written so far are:
The Building of England. How the History of England has shaped our buildings (William Collins, 2013)
Published in November 2013 this is my history of architecture in England, the labour of four years of Sunday afternoons, snatched moments amidst the children’s suppertime and some chunks of annual holiday. It is a history of English buildings; but, it is intended to be more than that: it is about the beliefs, ideas and aspirations of the people who commissioned them, built them, lived in them and saw them going about their daily business. It is about how people discovered new ways of building, both for improved structural performance, and for enhanced aesthetic effect. It is about how buildings reflected changing economic circumstances, shifting tastes and fashions. It is about the architectural expression of power, of hierarchy, of influence. It is the history of a nation through what it built.
Brilliantly produced by my excellent publisher William Collins it has over 540 illustrations with lots of plans and diagrams. Though it has no bibliography it does have good and full notes which should help people follow up their interests.
Men from the Ministry. How Britain Saved its Heritage (Yale, 2013)
This is a book on a rather obscure but fascinating subject. It tells the tale of how a very small government department, the Ancient Monuments Department of the Office of Works set out, armed with the 1913 Ancient Monuments Act, to save the nation’s heritage. Its work, which came to an end in 1983 with the establishment of English Heritage, was responsible for giving us one of the best publically-owned collections of great buildings in the world and a heritage protection system that is the envy of many. The story comes alive through the extraordinary people who were involved in this endeavour. I have been really surprised and flattered as to how well it has done; people have found the story really fascinating and compelling…
‘Simon Thurley’s engrossing book… A canny operator as well as a first class architectural historian’: Richard Morrison – Saturday Times Book of the Week
‘Thurley knows his subject intimately; his account is stuffed with interesting, useful facts and with vignettes of bygone personalities, Gillian Tindall’: Literary review
‘Though Thurley’s parade of bureaucrats can be wearying at times, the end result is magnificent. English Heritage has been an easy (and constant) target for government cuts and this book is, in a way, a defence of its raison d’etre’: Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times
‘Sharp provoking book’: Michael Hall, Country Life
‘A well overdue celebration of a great national achievement’, Jada Dams, Who do you think you are?
‘Engaging and candid account’, Current Archaeology
‘Entertaining and informative narrative, rich with insights’, British Archaeology
Hampton Court Palace: A Social and Architectural History, (Yale, 2004).
Mark Girouard’s comment in the TLS quoted above referred to the fact that it was known that my next project was writing up over fifteen years of research on Hampton Court. The start of this had been my MA dissertation. The book set out deliberately to meld together architecture and social life as I had done in my first book but to apply the methodology to a single building. It was a big and detailed book Bill Bryson, choosing it as one of his books of the year in 2004 said it was ‘That rarest of things a coffee table book that is also a supremely engaging read… The only downside is that if you fall asleep reading it in bed, you could be crushed’.
I had a lot of help in writing this and in the Whitehall book from the team that had written The History of the King’s Works – a definitive history of royal building edited by Sir Howard Colvin. I sent a copy of the book to Howard when it was finished and his reply is now glued into the front of my own copy. His letter called Hampton Court ‘Probably the best book ever written on a single building’. This is the biggest compliment I have ever had (apart from Anna marrying me). Other people said:
‘Everyone should be eternally grateful to him for providing us with surely one of the best building biographies ever written’, Roy Strong, The Evening Standard
Beautifully illustrated and well written Simon Pepper TLS
Thurley’s book has manifold strengths… Huge and impressive detail Jamie Camplin Times Higher Education Supplement
Unlikely to be superseded, Giles Worsley, The Daily Telegraph
The Triumph of Simon Thurley’s Stupendous new work of scholarship is to show how much more there is to know than ever one could have imagined. Clive Aslet, Country Life
Whitehall Palace. An Architectural History of the Royal Apartments, 1240-1698, (Yale University Press, 1999).
My second big book for Yale University Press was an entirely different thing. Whitehall had been excavated in the 1930s and 1950s and none of the excavators had ever written up their finds. I took on the task of doing the job for them. It was an exercise in the archaeology of archaeology, piecing together documentary evidence, the archaeological records and other sources to reconstruct the residential parts of Whitehall palace. It was a big and difficult job and one that is unlikely that anyone will try again – not least as I had access to the surviving excavators – all now dead. H. M. Port, who taught me as an undergraduate and who had worked on the material said in the London Journal that the book’s ‘…scrupulous research’ made it now ‘…the fundamental source for further studies relating to the English Court and government’. Very kind.
‘Architectural history that continually interrelates form and function, using the full range of archaeological, architectural and historical evidence to present the reader with an understanding of the experience of living in the royal buildings’, Felicity Heal, Times Higher
Thurley’s magisterial sequence… I can recollect no better presentation of plans in any recent architectural book… If only other palaces might receive the same exemplary Thurley treatment’ John Harris, The Art newspaper
‘This is a great achievement and a model of the careful scholarship that currently goes into the reconstruction of lost buildings’ Maurice Howard Burlington Magazine
Whitehall Palace marks the second instalment of Simon Thurley’s triumphant celebration of the Tudor and Stuart Royal palace… it is a measure of his knowledge, skill and enthusiasm that he can keep the readers attention and interest (with perhaps a little skipping of how foundation M19 relates to wall M20)’ Mark Girouard, The Times Literary Supplement
The Royal Palaces of Tudor England: A Social and Architectural History, (Yale University Press, 1993)
This was the ‘fastest selling art book of 1993’ according to the Apollo Magazine and was shortlisted for the Longman History Today book awards. The reviews were very good apart from my former PhD supervisor and friend David Starkey who wrote, in the Literary Review, that the book ‘bears more than a passing resemblance to its overblown subject, where lavishness is all…Henry’s palaces were put up in a rush and on inadequate foundations. So is Thurley’s book’. The footnotes were described as ‘a septic tank of errors’. I do love David. He was, however, forced to admit ‘the achievements of both the king and the architectural historian [i.e. me] are formidable in gross if flawed in detail’. This is what other people had to say:
‘not only a definitive history of the royal palaces’ architecture and decoration but, crucially of their function as well’: Roy Strong, Country Life
…this admirable, beautiful book – learned but readable’ A. L. Rowse, The Evening Standard
Thurley’s is a new kind of book on English palaces, much needed and brilliantly executed’: Mark Girouard, Times Literary Supplement
Simon Thurley’s superb and engrossing study’: Antonia Fraser, The Times
‘…an original and exceptionally interesting book’, Claude Blair: The Art Newspaper
(click on a cover to buy from Amazon UK)
Articles in Refereed Academic Journals
‘Henry VIII and the Building of Hampton Court: A Reconstruction of the Tudor Palace’, Architectural History, 31, (1998), pp.1-57.
‘Excavations on the West Side of Whitehall 1960-2 Part I: From the Building of the Tudor Palace to the Construction of the Modern Offices of State’, The London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Transactions, (1990), pp.59-130.
‘The Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, CXLIII, (1990), pp.1-28.
‘Whitehall Palace and King Street, Westminster: The Urban Cost of Princely Magnificence’, London Topographical Record, XXVI, (1990), pp.57-77, (with Gervaise Rosser).
‘The Building of the King’s Apartments, A most Popular Monarch’, Apollo, CXL, (1994), No. 390, pp. 10-21.
‘William III’s Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace: Research and Restoration’, Apollo, (June, 1995), pp.3-22.
‘The Royal Lodgings at the Tower of London 1240-1320’, Architectural History, 38, (1995), pp 36-37.
‘The Stuart Kings, Oliver Cromwell and the Chapel Royal 1618-1685’, Architectural History, 45, (2002), pp.238-274.
‘Architecture and Diplomacy; Greenwich Palace under the Stuarts’, The Court Historian 11.2 (January 2007) pp.21-29.
‘Kensington Palace: an incident in Anglo-Dutch architectural collaboration?’ The Georgian Group Journal (XVII) 2009, pp.1-18.
‘The Cloister and the Hearth, Thomas Wolsey and the plan of the late Medieval Episcopal Mansion’ Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 162, (2009), pp.179-195.
Contributions to multi-author books of academic Essays
‘The Domestic Building Works of Cardinal Wolsey’, Cardinal Wolsey: Church, State and Art, Eds., S. Gunn & P. Lindley, (Cambridge, 1990), pp.76-102.
‘Greenwich Palace: The Banqueting House of 1527, The Sport of Kings’, in Henry VIII, A European Court in England, Ed., D. Starkey, (National Maritime Museum, Exhibition Catalogue, 1991), pp.20-26, 64-70, 163-172.
‘Tudor and Jacobean’, The Elements of Style Ed., Stephen Calloway, (Mitchell Beazley, 1991, second edition with revisions, 1996), pp.12-39.
‘The Palaces of Henry VIII’, Architecture et Vie Sociale à La Renaissance, L’organisation Intérieure des Grandes Demeures à la Fin du Moyen Age et à la Renaissance, Ed., J. Guillaume, (Picard), (1994), pp.97-106.
‘Hampton Court Palace’, Macmillan Dictionary of Art (1995)
‘The Restoration of Hampton Court’, in Das Schloss und Seind Ausstattung (Icomos, 1995), pp.67-71.
‘Palace Revolution: Ideas for Reversing Decline in England’s Royal Palaces’, Abitare La Storia, le Dimore Storiche Museo, Ed., Luca Leoncini and Farida Simonetti, (Genoa, 1997), pp.89-94
‘Whitehall Palace and Westminster 1400-1600: A Royal Seat in Transition’, Eds., David Gaimster & Paul Stamper, The Age of Transition (Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 98, 1997), pp.93-104.
‘A Country House fit for a King Charles II, Winchester and Greenwich’, The Stuart Court, (2000), Ed., E.Cruickshanks pp.214-239.
‘Royal Palaces’, Tudor England an Encyclopaedia, Ed., Arthur F. Kinney and David W. Swain, (New York 2001), pp. 613-615.
‘The Impact of Royal Landholdings on the County of Surrey 1509-1649’, Aspects of Archaeology and History in Surrey: Towards a Research Framework for the County, (Surrey Archaeological Society, 2004), pp.155-168.
The Cardinal of King Henry VIII of England. Thomas Wolsey. Frédérique Lemerle, Yves Pauwels and Gennaro Toscano, Les Cardinaux de la Renaissance, (Tours, 2009), pp.39-50
‘The Politics of Court Space in Early Stuart London’, George Gorst and Malcolm Smutts eds., The Politics of Court Space in Europe and the Mediterranean, ca. 1500-1750, (2009), pp.293-316
‘The changing perception of cultural heritage: new approach and new challenges’, Cultural Heritage. A resource for Europe. The benefits of interaction. Ed., Guy Braeckman, (Brussels, 2011), pp.43-51
‘The historiography of the architecture of European courts’, Marcello Fantoni ed., The Court in Europe, (Rome, 2012), pp.291-301
‘The Vanishing Architecture of the River Thames’, S. Doran, ed., Royal River. Power Pageantry and the Thames, (London, 2012), pp. 20-25
‘Lauderdale at Court’, Christopher Rowell ed., Ham House. 400 Years of Collecting and Patronage, (Yale, 2013), pp.136-143
‘The King in the Queen’s Lodgings: The Rise of the Drawing Room at the English Court’, Monique Chatenet and Krista de Jonge, La Prince, La Princesse et Leurs Logis. (Paris, 2014), pp.67-74.
‘Monumental History: The History of the King’s Works’, Malcolm Airs and William Whyte Ed., Architectural History after Colvin (Donington, 2013), pp.94-101.
Other Learned Articles
‘Palaces for a Tudor King’, Country Life, (October 1991), pp.86-89.
‘Palaces for a Nouveau Riche King’, History Today, (June 1991), pp.10-14.
‘All the King’s Houses’, Country Life, (October 10th 1991), pp.86-89.
‘Hampton Court Middlesex. The Palace in the Nineteenth Century’, Country Life, (June 1st 1995), pp.80-85.
‘William III’s Privy Garden at Hampton Court: Points of Entry’, History Today, Vol. 47(5), (May 1997), pp.62-3.
‘Magnificent Chaos, London’s Lost Palace’, Country Life, (February 5th 1998), pp.42-5.
‘The Lost Palace of Whitehall’, History Today, (January 1998), pp.47-53.
‘How London Learned to Eat Out’, Country Life, (November 18th 1999), pp.72-73.
‘London’s Hidden Depths, 160 Years of Archaeology in London’, Illustrated London News, (December 1999), pp.40-42.
‘Digging to Londinuim’, Country Life, (November 2nd, 2000), pp. 124-127
‘Roman Holidays’, History Today, (December 2000), pp. 62-63
‘The Art of Hugh Buchanan’ Francis Kyle Gallery, (November 2000)
Crosby Hall Chelsea, Country Life, (October 2nd 2003) pp.72-6
The Early Stuarts at Hampton Court, History Today (November, 2003) pp.14-20
Nearly our Greatest Palace, (Winchester Palace) Country Life, (March 3rd 2005), pp. 92-5
Nonsuch: A Palace fit for a Prince? Country Life, (August 11, 2005), pp.42-5
The True Story of the Royal Maze Country Life, (September 15, 2005), pp.148-9
Kimbolton Castle, Country Life (March 30, 2006), pp.66-71
Newmarket Palace, Country Life (April 24 2008), pp.100-103.
Somerset House, Country Life (2008)
The Thrill of the Chase. Oatlands Palace, Surrey, Country Life (January 19 2011), pp.50-53
Scotland’s Royal Palace, Holyroodhouse, Country Life, (August 15th 2012), pp. 69-73
The Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court, a Souvenir Guide, (Historic Royal Palaces, 1991).
The King’s Apartments, A Souvenir Guide, (Historic Royal Palaces, 1992).
Hampton Court Palace, Official Guidebook, (Historic Royal Palaces, 1992, reprinted 1993 and 1994. Entirely new edition, 1996).
The Crown Jewels, Official Guidebook, (HM Tower of London, 1994), (revised and expanded edition).
Kew Palace, Official Guidebook, (Historic Royal Palaces, 1995), (With Suzanne Groom).
The Banqueting House, Official Guidebook, (Historic Royal Palaces, 1997), (With Suzanne Groom and Susan Jenkins).
The Spitalfields Roman, (Museum of London, 1999).
‘From Rags to Riches’, The Book of London Walks II, (Time Out, 2001, reprinted April 2005), pp.284-295.
Selected Book Reviews
‘The Palaces of Medieval England’, by T.B. James, Archaeological Journal.
‘Houses of Noble Poverty’, by Brian Howson, Times Literary Supplement, (March 1994)
‘The Great Rebuildings of Tudor and Stuart England’, by Colin Platt, Perspectives on Architecture, (December 1994).
Michael Thompson, ‘The Medieval Hall: The Basis of Secular Life 600-1600AD’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 56:4 (December 1997), pp.50-6.
Francis Sheppard, ‘London: A History’, Stephen Inwood, ‘A History of London’, & Roger Hudson, ‘London Portrait of a City’, The Times Higher Supplement, March 5th 1998, pp.26-7.
John D.Dunbar, ‘The Royal Palaces of Scotland’, Society of Architectural Historians Newsletter, (1999).
John D. Dunbar, ‘The Royal Palaces of Scotland’, The Court Historian .pp
Peter Ackroyd, ‘London the Biography’, The Times Higher Educational Supplement, 16th November 2000.
St Paul’s and Hooke The Times Higher Educational Supplement
Richard Jenkyns, Westminster Abbey, Times Higher Education Supplement, February 25 2005 p.32
David Watkin, ‘The architect King’; Francis Russell, ‘John 3rd Earl of Bute’; Jane Roberts, ‘George II and Queen Caroline’, The Court Historian
John Goodall the castle Country Life
John Martin Robinson , ‘Felling the Ancient Oaks: How England Lost its Great country estates’, Literary review May 2012 p.36
Some recent Journalism
Britain is being Demolished, The Spectator 17 November 2007
Harrowing heritage The Financial Times 18 September 2010
Renewed Spirits The Financial Times April 23 2011
The Downton Downturn Effect The Financial Times September 10 2011
Overlooked Heritage The Financial Times 31 March 2012