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He was born on 27 May 1883 and educated at Dulwich College. He then set out to be an architect, but soon transferred to the Victoria County History and then in 1912 to the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England) where he was successively Editor, Secretary, and Commissioner.
Apart from a paper on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem – the result of his military service in Egypt and Palestine during the First World War – his principal work was with the Royal Commission, being a major contributor to the reports on Essex, Buckinghamshire, Huntingdonshire, Middlesex, London, Hertfordshire, Westmorland, and Oxford. Following his retirement he wrote two major works, a two-volume work on Romanesque Architecture in England in 1930 and 1934, and Romanesque Architecture in Western Europe in 1936.
He was a faithful adherent of the Society of Antiquaries, being first Secretary and then its President and later the Gold Medallist. Although he had never been to university, in 1935 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.
He was an effective chairman of the societies, being President of the Royal Archaeological Institute, Chairman of the London University Institute of Archaeology, and essentially the founder of the Council for British Archaeology.
He died on 26 October 1950.
- Clapham, Alfred William (1936). Romanesque Architecture In Western Europe. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
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