Special Architectural Collection

Photo:View across Dog Yard, c1900; the area in the foreground is now part of Christopher Place

View across Dog Yard, c1900; the area in the foreground is now part of Christopher Place

Copyright: SAHAAS (ES Kent collection, ref. ESK8b)

The John Smith / Gerard McSweeney papers covering many timber-framed buildings in St Albans

By Jonathan Mein

In 2016 the Society received the two sets of papers that form this Special Collection from the families of the late John Smith and Gerard McSweeney respectively. The Collection relates to the history of the town’s many timber-framed buildings. It is an important resource especially for researchers investigating the urban development of market towns such as St Albans.

Both Smith and McSweeney were members of this Society, John elected an Honorary Member in 2012. Smith managed the extensive 17th century research project undertaken by SAHAAS members from the 1990s. This led to the publication of the acclaimed St Albans 1650-1700: A thoroughfare town and its people. McSweeney was a key member of the research group. Together they worked on a detailed investigation of surviving architectural evidence for the 17th century town. The combination of their work with the more typical documentary study of social history sources was an innovative feature of the project. With a career spent as an Inspector with the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, Smith brought his professional expertise to bear on this work.

This Special Architectural Collection contains the fruits of their research. Of particular note are over 50 reports drafted by Smith following visits to many of the remaining secular 17th century buildings. The papers otherwise largely consist of correspondence, images, maps and extracts from documentary sources that were used to develop their interpretation.

McSweeney's papers also include documents and notes relating to his personal research into many properties in Chequer and St Peter's streets.

Eventually we intend to add these papers to the Library’s online catalogue. In the meantime the following fairly rough and ready handlist should help researchers identify material of interest.

If you have any questions concerning the collection please email library@stalbanshistory.org.

This page was added by Jonathan Mein on 31/08/2017.

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