Office of Works

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Organization often referred to as the King's (or Queen's) Works, formerly in charge of building for the English monarchy. From the 14th century to the late 18th, architecturally the most significant period in its history, the office was eminent in patronage and taste. Rulers, whether crowned or otherwise sanctioned, have extended building beyond the needs of habitation and defence to express their authority in this life and often to bargain for their happiness in the next. Architecture requires not only overall designs but the management of labour and materials, and successful large-scale building presupposes an organized body to control these tasks. The English Office of Works is distinguished by its corporate identity (known from 1130 as the King's Works) and by the felicitous survival of considerable documentation from as early as the late 11th century. It was formed and reformed as a non-parliamentary body over eight centuries as English social and political life gradually stabilized and evolved into a democratic monarchy.


From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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