The Ancient Architecture Of England. Part I. The Orders Of Architecture During The British, Roman, Saxon and Norman Æras. By Iohn Carter, F.A.S. Architect. (Part II. The Orders Of Architecture During The Reigns Of Henry III, Edward III, Richard II, Henry VI, Henry VII, And Henry VIII. By John Carter, F.A.S. Architect.)

John Carter

RA Collection: Book

Record number





Physical Description

2 vols.; 516 cm.

General Note

Part I: [4], 54 p., frontis.,, 79 pl.: [2] illus. - Part II: 14, 4 p.,, 27 pl.


Part I: [, frontis., dedic.] - Contents. Part I; [colophon] - [Text] - [Plates]. - Part II: [] - [Text] - Alphabetical Index ... - Chronological Table - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

In Volume I the title-plate and frontispiece are signed as drawn by J. Carter, and all plates as drawn by 'J.C.' (usually with the date of the drawing added).

Each plate carries the publisher's imprint of J. Carter, with the date of publication.

In Volume I there are two in-text illustrations - a decorated initial and a tailpiece; of which the latter is signed as drawn by J. Carter.

The printers' name is given at the foot of most letter-press leaves: 'Printed by W. Bulmer and Co., Cleveland-row, St. James's.'

The work is dedicated by John Carter to Frederick, Duke of York, in recognition of the Duke's employing Carter at Oatlands.


ESTC, T090827
RIBA, Early printed, I (1994), 569.
R. Sweet, Antiquaries: the discovery of the past in eighteenth-century Britain (2004)
S. Smiles, Eye witness: artists and visual documentation in Britain 1770-1830 (2000), esp. chap. 3, 'Recording the Gothic'
J.M. Crook, John Carter and the mind of the Gothic Revival (1995).

Summary Note

The publication-date of Volume I is given on the title-plate as 'MDCCIXCV' (presumably for 1795), and on the frontispiece as 'June 1st 1806'; and in fact the plates were published serially in twenty groups of four between these two dates, the first four (i.e. the title-plate and plates 1-3) carrying the publication-date of May 1 1795, and the last four the publication-date of March 1 1806, with the frontispiece concluding the series with the publication-date of June 1 1806. The dedication carries the date of June 27, 1806. (Many plates, as well as carrying publication-dates, also carry alongside Carter's signature as draughtsman the dates of drawing, which range from 1780 to 1802.) The publication-date printed on the title page of Volume II is 1807; but its plates carry publication-dates ranging from 1807 to 1814.

This book of Carter's was possibly the first to attempt a systematic analysis of the development in Britain of the Gothic or Pointed-Arch style. He published his record as a protest against ignorance and neglect. In his Preface, like Gough before him, he deplores the neglect of Gothic architecture in the face of Greek and Roman studies (asserting erroneously that 'the species of design wherein the pointed arch is the most prominent feature ... originated in England'), and laments that 'The absolute necessity of a publication of this nature being set about at this hour will be evident to many, when the unrestrained rage given way to on all occasions either for a partial alteration of the features of our ancient edifices or for their entire demolition is considered'. In fact in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries his work and the more popular surveys of F. Grose, W. Byrne, T. Hearne, E. King and J. Britton brought about a new appreciation of Gothic architecture among the public; so that by 1844 E. Churton could write, 'The time seems now to have come when a respect for the antiquities of our country is acknowledged ... Englishmen are now no longer content to make mere excursions of pleasure to old sites, to spread their collation in the cloisters' (The monastic ruins of Yorkshire).

A 'new and improved edition' with additions by John Britton was published in 1837.


27 February 1808: 'Resolved, ... Carter's Ancient Architecture of England, be ordered for the Library.' (RA Council Minutes IV, 47).

5 March 1810: 'Mr Flaxman Moved - seconded by Mr Howard, that ... [Carter's English Architecture - Gothic] be purchased for the Library of the Royal Academy - Unanimous.' (RA Council Minutes IV, 199-200).

Despite these resolutions there is no evidence that the second part of this work was ever acquired for the RA Library.

Copy Note

Imperfect: lacks Volume II.

Binding Note

19th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; green morocco spine-labels lettered 'Carter's Antient Architecture Of England', 'Part I. - British, Roman, Saxon, & Norman Æras', spine lettered 'R.A.'


Architecture - Orders - Architecture details - Decoration and ornament, architectural - Antiquities - Great Britain - History - Romanesque - Gothic
Views - Plans - Elevations - Sections - 18th century - 19th century
Pictorial works - 18th century - 19th century