John E. Vigar MA, FSA Scot., FRSA

Britain with Betjeman

John Betjeman is best known as the twentieth century’s most popular Poet Laureate. His verses were easy to understand and encouraged people to read poetry for the first time. Yet his work as a writer and commentator on English architecture both old and modern had, arguably, more impact on our perception of the built heritage than almost anyone else.

This illustrated lecture introduces us to the architectural writings and opinions of John Betjeman, discussing the history of the buildings he used as examples and exploring structures as diverse as churches, houses and pleasure piers. A man who made the unpopular fashionable and who was a pioneer in the subject of the sociological impact of buildings, John Betjeman was a popular but controversial figure. His work at the Architectural Review and his idea for a series of Architecturally-based guides should be as well known as his poetry, and it is a reflection on today’s society that they are so often eclipsed by his more popular verse.

John Vigar was personally encouraged early in his career by John Betjeman and is a Trustee of a national charity of which Betjeman was a founder. He is an architectural historian by profession, specialising in ecclesiastical architecture of which John Betjeman was such a protagonist. He also lectures for several universities and colleges and until his retirement worked for The Churches Conservation Trust.

He lectures extensively across Europe, and leads specialist tours in Britain, including one based on John Betjeman`s life and work, visiting his haunts in Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Suggested reading:

Bevis Hillier John Betjeman – a life in pictures 1984

Frank Delaney Betjeman Country 1983

John Betjeman Letters 1926-1951 1994

John Betjeman Letters 1951-1984 1995

A N Wilson John Betjeman, 2007

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