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Dr Sarah Dowding
Room 5.14
22 Gordon Street
Dr Sarah Dowding profile picture
  • Research Associate
  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

Sarah Ann Dowding (nee Milne) is an historian at the Survey ofLondon. She trained as an architect, but a growing curiosity about the past ledher into architectural history. She was previously Lecturer in the History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Westminster.

Research Summary

Though writing about buildings of all types and from all periods at the Survey, Sarah’s specialisation is in early modern London and its architecture. Her thesis examined the acquisition and development of the estate of one large mercantile guild, the London Drapers’ Company, in the post-reformation period (c.1540-1640). Examining how urban and economic change unsettled civic culture, Sarah traced how authorities sought to represent stability within the Company Hall, publishing an edition of The Dinner Book of the London Drapers' Company in 2019. 

Sarah takes a micro-historical and interdisciplinary approach to buildings in order to contribute to broader conversations about how cities change in the long term. She has a developing interest in methodologies of architectural history (i.e. archival, oral, digital practices). Often, her research seeks to uncover more diverse stories of the built environment utilising evidence less familiar to architectural historians. Aiming to document how the discipline itself has developed, she is Project Manager for 'An Oral History of Architectural Historians' run by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

At the Survey of London, she is currently working on the experimental 'Histories of Whitechapel' project, and will see the subsequent publication through to completion. This work has deepened her concern for the ways in which trade and migration have shaped city development and architecture over centuries. She is an affiliate member of the UCL Migration Research Unit and the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges.

Sarah also participates in the newly established international research group, Global Urban History Project, and has published articles on a sixteenth-century city block characterised by increasingly international mercantile activity, and a hostel for British seamen from the Caribbean and West Africa set-up in the mid-twentieth century.

Teaching Summary

Sarah leads the module 'Surveying and Recording Cities' which is part of the MA in Architecture and Historic Urban Environments (MAHUE). She has also taught at NYU London and leads the Attingham Trust's 'Twentieth Century London House' day.

Academic Background
2016   Doctor of Philosophy University of Westminster
2010   Postgraduate Diploma University of Westminster
2007   Bachelor of Architecture Glasgow School of Art
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