Architects of England - The Past and Present of England's Architecture

Promotional image for 'Architects of England' - Taken from 'Films of Britain 1941' - Location unknown.
'To-day, Britain's architects are using steel, concrete and glass in new and interesting methods of building. Hundreds of years ago Saxon and Norman church builders used stone. As English masons grew more skilled in its use, they grew more venturesome in building, eventually creating the peerless 'Early-English' style. Builders of Tudor and Elizabethan houses made extensive use of brick. Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren employed foreign styles of building with English materials, such as Portland stone, red bricks, and slate. In the eighteenth century plaster was widely used. Modern architects have a far wider choice of materials and use them with skill and ingenuity.' [1]

Date: 1941
Duration: 12:38

Director: John Eldridge
Production Company: Strand Film Company
Producer: Donald Taylor
Cinematographer: Martin Curtis
Composer: William Alwyn
Narration: Alvar Lidell
Editor: -
Sound Recording: Al Rhind
Script by: Reg Groves
Musical Director: Muir Mathieson

Length: 35mm: 1181ft. 16mm: 512ft.

Distributor: -


The image above, taken from the Films of Britain 1941 book, does not actually occur anywhere in the film. It is thus likely to have been taken separately for use in promotional material. The name and location of this house are unknown.

Locations shown in this title include (in order of appearance):
Stonehenge; All Saint’s Church, Earls Barton, Northamptonshire; Durham Cathedral; Wells Cathedral, Somerset; [Unknown abbey ruin]; York Minster; Lincoln Cathedral; Salisbury Cathedral; [Unknown half-timbered Tudor houses]; [Unknown House (pictured above)]; Hengrave Hall, Suffolk; [Unknown House]; Wren Library, Cambridge; Royal Hospital Chelsea; [Unknown House]; Holkham Hall, Norfolk; Edgcote House, Northamptonshire; [Unknown House - demolished?]; Royal Crescent, Bath; [Unknown Regency terrace]; [Regent’s Park area?]; [Unknown railway viaduct over a city]; Menai Suspension Bridge; Clifton Suspension Bridge; [Unknown glass-domed building]; The Houses of Parliament, Westminster; [Unknown hall]; Albert Memorial, Kensington, London; (Old) Euston Station; Nottingham Council House; Shell Max House and Cleopatra’s Needle, London; Senate House, London; Broadcasting House, London; Peter Jones Department Store, London; [Unknown 1930s buildings]; Wells Cathedral; [York city walls?]; Battersea Power Station, London; Durham Cathedral; Salisbury Cathedral; St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Interestingly, the first two structure shown in this film are the subjects of the first two images illustrating the Wikipedia article entitled ‘Architecture of England’.

Further Information

Architects of England (Great Britain)
Production: Produced by Strand Films for the British Council.
Description: Direct photography and commentary.
Teaching Notes: Not available.
Distributors: The Central Film Library, Imperial Institute, South Kensington, SW7
Distributors' Cat. Ref.: UK.107
Conditions of Supply: Loaned free of charge.

Contents: Opening with shots of Stonehenge, this film continues by showing examples of early places of worship hewn out of similar stones. It then turns to Norman architecture with shots of one or two Cathedrals where this style predominates, and, illustrated still by Cathedral architecture, shows how gradually this style came to be modified into that known as Early English and later still to the Decorated style. There are then shown types of domestic architecture – cottages, small and large houses, built of timber, stone or brick according to the material available. The Classical innovations of Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones are shown and the film gives an idea of the elaborate interior decorations favoured in the 18th Century. The setting and lay-out of buildings is emphasised next, taking Bath as the example, and the film continues with shots of typical Georgian and Regency architecture. Illustrated by shots of Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Crystal Palace the film next shows how the introduction of steel affected design. The next phase was the revival of Gothic architecture, as exemplified in the Houses of Parliament and the Albert Memorial. The film finishes with shots of great modern, steel-framed concrete buildings, such as the B.B.C., the Adelphi and Shell Max House.

Still from 'Architects of England' - Taken from 'Films of Britain 1942-43' - Royal Chelsea Hospital
Appraisal: This is an outstanding and excellent film, just because its excellencies are not all apparent when first seen. The excellence of photography is immediately striking and the commentary – language, intonation and delivery – could not be bettered. Its supreme quality lies in the fact that it has a clear central idea and that with very great inducements to depart from it the producer has held it steadily in mind. One may criticise this, that and the other, but always on reflection it is realised that the producer's way is best. Curiously enough it is not really “film” at all according to “filmists” or “filmomanes” for most of the shots are in effect stills, but the fact remains that it is an artistic whole, that does what it intended to do and that, somehow, stills or no, it moves.
Suitability: For all adolescents and upward.

16mm. Sd.
2 reels.[2]

Architects of England
Released: 1941
35mm Film
1181 Feet
13 mins
Black and White
Director: John Eldridge
Production Company: Strand Film Company
Sponsor: British Council
Producer: Donald Taylor
Music: William Alwyn
Music Director: Muir Mathieson
Sound Recording: Al Rhind
Narrator: Alvar Lidell[3]
  1. ^ Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1941
  2. ^ Monthly Film Bulletin of the BFI
    Index to Vol.11 / No.s 121-132 / 1943-44, 31 March 1944,
    Educational Films,
  3. ^