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Pevsner honoured with blue plaque

The Hampstead house where Nikolaus Pevsner lived has been marked with an English Heritage blue plaque

Nikolaus Pevsner, who penned the indispensable 46-volume guide to The Buildings of England, has been honoured with one of English Heritage’s blue plaques.

The plate has been attached to the German-born writer’s house in Wildwood Terrace, Hampstead, north London, where he lived from 1936 until his death in 1983. The property is still owned by the Pevsner family.

Although he edited the Architectural Review from 1942-45, Pevsner is best known for his exhaustive and comprehensive county-by-county guide to England’s architecture, which he starting compiling with his wife Lola in 1951.

After she died in 1963, he continued his relentless publication of two books a year until 1974 – accompanied on his tours by one of his sons and then by graduate students.

Born in Leipzig in 1902 to a family of Russian-Jewish origin, he married Karola (Lola) Kurlbaum in 1923, and a year later completed his doctoral thesis on the baroque merchant houses of Leipzig.

Pevsner went on to become the assistant keeper at the Dresden Gallery then a lecturer at the University of Göttingen. It was at the university that, after specialising in Italian Mannerist painting, Pevsner turned his attention to English architecture, making his first research visit to the country in 1930.

Three years later Pevsner was forced out of Nazi Germany by race laws forbidding him from retaining his post.

During his early years in England, alongside his work as a historian and writer, Pevsner earned a living as a fabric buyer for the furniture maker Gordon Russell.

Speaking about the English Heritage accolade on the Hampstead house, Pevsner’s son Dieter said: ‘The peace and the country aspect, with its farmhouse and open heath, so delighted him that he chose and rented No. 2 as his first English family home.

‘He never moved again, or ever even contemplated moving. It was the ideal base for his work and the perfect setting for him and our mother to raise our family.

‘He would have been delighted to think that the house itself would one day be honoured – and in the presence of three generations of his descendants.’

Pevsner was appointed CBE in 1953; in 1967 he was awarded the RIBA Royal gold medal for architecture. He was knighted in 1969.

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