John Hooper Harvey, Hon.Dr.York, F.R.S.L., D.S.G.

John Harvey was born in London on 25 May 1911 and spent much of his boyhood in Highgate. After tough schooling at St John's, Leatherhead, the family finances were too uncertain for him to go to university. Instead, he was apprenticed to his architect father at the Ancient Monuments Board, learning his craft as he went along, and finally obtaining a diploma in architecture at the old Regent Street Polytechnic. He then joined one of the leading architects of the day, Sir Herbert Baker, to whom Harvey became personally greatly attached, though the practice afforded little, if any, scope for conservation work. During the mid-thirties father and son worked together at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and on the outbreak of war Harvey registered as a conscientous objector. Six months in Wormwood Scrubs left no scars, indeed he appeared to savour the company he found there, but the rest of the war was spent repairing bomb-damaged buildings. Throughout his life Harvey wrote fluently and copiously. He began to publish articles on medieval architecture in 1936 and his first monograph, Henry Yevele: the Life of an English Architect, c. 1320-1400 appeared in 1944. It was a pointer to future work in that it portrayed buildings as a reflection of human development, with the personality of the architect indivisible from his work. The consummation of this approach was Harvey's masterly English Mediaeval Architects: a Biographical Dictionary down to 1550, first published in 1954, with contributions by Arthur Oswald and L. F. Salzman. It includes entries on master masons, carpenters, carvers, building contractors and others responsible for design, as well as architects, all garnered from primary sources. The Dictionary would have been a remarkable achievement for a team of researchers working from an academic base; for a solitary self-taught archivist and medievalist, ploughing his way through obscure records in innumerable deposits, albeit with help from Oswald and Salzman and W. R. Lethaby's Westminster Abbey and the Kings' Craftsmen, 1906, and Westminster Abbey Re-Examined, 1925, to inspire him, the 1,300-entry catalogue was a feat of titanic proportions. (It might be mentioned here that the Antiquaries' rebound copy of Westminster Abbey Re-Examined contains a typed index by Harvey, dated 1945.) To celebrate Harvey's seventieth birthday, a revised edition of the Dictionary appeared in 1984 with 400 additional entries, and was reprinted in 1987 when A Supplement to the Revised Edition of 1984 was also published. Harvey always cherished his independence. His only academic appointment was lecturer in the preservation and restoration of historic buildings at U.C.L.'s Bartlett School of Architecture from 1950-9; and he practised as an architect solely in his capacity as consultant to Winchester College from 1947 onwards. He was a part-time investigator in Surrey for the then Ministry of Public Buildings and Works in 1949 and from 1963-70 he held a similar post as Inspector for the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in York. These part-time posts left him time for his own researches and his publications constitute some of the most significant ground-breaking work for the modern study of Gothic architecture. Titles include Gothic England: A survey of National Culture 1300-1550, 1947; The Plantagenets 1154-1485, 1948; Dublin: a Study in Environment, 1949; The Gothic World 1100-1600, 1950; The English Cathedrals, 1950; The Cathedrals of Spain, 1957; a translation of William Worcestre's Itineraries 1478-80, 1969; The Master Builders: Architecture in the Middle Ages, 1971; The Conservation of Buildings, 1972; Cathedrals of England and Wales, 1974; Medieval Craftsmen, 1975 and The Perpendicular Style, 1978. Harvey was the first to provide a precise explanation for the origins of the Perpendicular style. As early as 1962, in a chapter entitled `The Origin of the Perpendicular Style' in E. M. Jope (ed.) Studies in Building History he proposed that Master William Ramsey, shortly to become the king's master mason, was the key link between the early Perpendicular works of the 1330s at Old St Paul's, Gloucester and Lichfield. Though more recent scholarship is less inclined to accept the Ramsey attribution at Gloucester, Harvey raised the debate about this issue to a new plane, naming specific master masons and identifying the minutiae of architectural detail they employed. In the late 1960s, Harvey became increasingly absorbed in garden history and his Early Nurserymen, 1974, did for gardens what his Dictionary had done for buildings. He painstakingly researched trade lists and estate papers to show what exactly was being done and grown in the garden at a given time and his Early Gardening Catalogues, 1972, is a model of its kind. Harvey was as anxious to establish conservation principles for historic gardens as he had been for historic buildings, and insisted that authentic plants should always be grown; perhaps his greatest contribution to garden history being his identification of plants up to 1830. In 1988 the Garden History Society, of which Harvey was president from 1982-5, published his The Availability of Hardy Plants of the Late Eighteenth Century, an invaluable practical aide for restorers. Harvey loved travelling and was an accomplished linguist; he worked in most European languages, including Hungarian, as well as Arabic, Chinese, Turkish and Persian. In 1975 he left York to spend the autumn of his long life in Frome, his family having originated in north-east Somerset. He never failed to attend the twice-yearly meetings of the Morris Fund Committee, of which he was a member from 1959-86; his contributions on the churches under discussion were often controversial, always highly opinionated, but never, ever dull. Harvey hated the internal combustion engine, loved trains, distrusted William Morris, criticised the R.I.B.A., was sceptical about the Christian faith despite his love of cathedrals. In the age of the telephone he was epistolary, writing long, uninhibited letters to colleagues and adversaries alike. The Royal Society of Literature, of which he became a Fellow in 1945, treasures his letters and in 1981 the Ancient Monuments Society published an edited version of his vast correspondence with Alec Clifton-Taylor. He died, reading P. G. Wodehouse's Summer Lightning, on 17 November 1997. In his will he left all his papers and notes to the Society. Appropriately for Harvey, the proud Londoner, a memorial service was held at St Bartholomew the Great in Great Smithfield, in his estimation the most important Romanesque church in the City. There were refreshments afterwards in the Rising Sun pub in Cloth Fair, which also merited a place in Harvey's affections.