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Devil's Architect?


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Nicholas Hawksmoor designed and built some of England's most dramatic buildings. Their bold personal style has always divided opinion but, in recent times, theories of malign intentions and dark forces have surrounded his works. Alyn Shipton looks behind the occult speculation to discover the ideas that are really at work in his structures.

The East End of London was a hot bed of dark doings long before Hawksmoor designed Christ Church, Spitalfields

Devil's Architect? 11.30am R4
For anyone interested in architecture, Nicholas Hawksmoor's name will always be associated with the work he did with Christopher Wren and John Vanbrugh, as well as the six imposing white churches of his own design in London. For those who know his name from Peter Ackrovd's Hawksmoor novel or lain Sinclair's poetic essay Lud Heat, his place in history is that of a dark mysterious figure, at best a geomancer who aligned his churches to channel lines of energy, at worst an occultist obsessed with funerary monuments and death. In this analysis of the symbolism and imagery at work in his buildings, Alyn Shipton makes clear what is historical fact and which ideas may have arisen from a more poetic interpretation of his work. Whichever camp you fall into, this programme leaves you feeling Hawksmoor was utterly attuned to the division between dark and light that's always been at the heart of life in London.


Presenter: Alyn Shipton
Producer: Chris Taylor

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