Front Quad

Dr Mark Kirby

Dr Mark Kirby

  • Child-Shuffrey Research Fellow in Architectural History

Profile

I took my undergraduate degree in History at Peterhouse, Cambridge (1984-87). I then worked in the City for the Bank of England and other organisations in the quasi-public sector, in a variety of regulatory and public policy roles, including eight years posted in Brussels.

I returned to academia in 2014 to take my life-long interest in architectural history to a deeper level. Under the supervision of Professor Anthony Geraghty at the University of York, I completed my PhD in 2019, under the title, 'Furnishing Sir Christopher Wren’s churches: Anglican identity in late seventeenth-century London'. This examined the manner in which the newly restored Church of England under a newly restored King sought to express it’s ecclesial and doctrinal position through the rare opportunity of being able to build 50 new churches in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London.

Research

Both in my PhD and now, my research interests focus on the interplay between church architecture, church history, liturgy, and furnishings in the seventeenth century. I aim to understand how religious belief was expressed in artistic and architectural terms by patrons and their architects, and how and why they built and furnished churches and other places of worship in the particular ways they did.

My role as Child-Shuffrey Fellow is to apply these interests to the College Chapel, and to Chapel Quad in a book to be published as part of the 2027 celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the foundation of the College. An important question for me is why the College Visitor, Bishop Williams, commissioned and financed the construction of such a grand and ornamented chapel when his own theological position was as a moderate Calvinist. The answers will tell us much about the role of episcopal patronage in the early seventeenth century and of the notions of decorum in church architecture and worship.