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Letters: Praise for England's first 'Architecte'

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May I point our that our challenge in procuring special handmade bricks for the recent restoration of Hill Hall, Essex, (aj/Brick Bulletin 29.10.98) was brought on by the need for 150,000 bricks, not 15,000 as stated. Curiously, 150,000 was also the number of bricks which were clamp-fired on site in 1578 to finish off the service wing.

As to the naive early-Renaissance architecture, we should not be too hard on Richard Kirby, the 'cheefe Architecte'; the primary responsibility lay with the remarkable owner, Sir Thomas Smith. Kirby, a master carpenter capable of producing drawings, oversaw the completion of the house and seems to be the earliest Englishman responsible for a building identified to be dignified with the title 'architect'. For myself, although I can lay claim to the Elizabethan definition as 'principal overseer and contriver of the work', I should offer the further correction that I am not in the twentieth-century terminology an architect, as the article states, but a chartered building surveyor.


English Heritage, Northampton

Katherine Shonfield returns in the new year.

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