Simpson & Brown Architects with Addyman Archaeology


Dr James Legard

James brings to Simpson & Brown a lifelong passion for architecture, history and heritage.  During his studies at Oxford, he gained a first class degree in modern history, specialising in early modern history and architectural history, and then a distinction in his master’s degree in historical research. After teaching history at universities in England and Canada, he worked in educational consultancy. His research focused on skills issues in the construction and heritage sectors, and was undertaken for clients including English Heritage, the National Heritage Training Group and ConstructionSkills. 

He subsequently decided to specialise in architectural history, and in 2014 completed a PhD at the University of York on the design of Blenheim Palace, the great baroque mansion designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir John Vanbrugh for the 1st Duke of Marlborough. While at York he won the Nuttgens Prize for the best York PhD project on an eighteenth-century topic, and first prize in the doctoral fellowship competition run by the university’s Humanities Research Centre. He was subsequently awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art to carry out further research on Blenheim, which he is now preparing for publication. He is an active member of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and will shortly be joining its committee.

Since completing his PhD, James has worked as a curatorial assistant and researcher at the National Gallery in London, where he developed a research project that used inventory evidence to trace the relationships between art and architecture in British country houses. After moving to Edinburgh, he began working part-time as a tutor in architectural history at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, which he continues to do alongside his work at Simpson & Brown.

Through his longstanding interest in architecture, interiors, and the fine and decorative arts, James has developed wide range of skills of particular value for his work as a heritage consultant. These include the analysis of physical building fabric as well as documentary architectural historical research, with special expertise in the interpretation of historic architectural drawings.