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All our staffed properties, sites and offices, including the HES Archives and Library, are currently closed, but we’re working on plans to gradually reopen. In the meantime, you can access our services online. Find out more.

Scheduled Website Maintenance 14/07/20 00:00 – 04:00GMT – There will be periods of time during this window when this website will be unavailable.

Basil Spence


In 2003, the Spence family presented RCAHMS with a collection of over 40,000 items. This unique archive is made up of elements from Sir Basil's personal life, his student days in Edinburgh, and his entire professional career. It includes office drawings and sketches, files, photographs, news cuttings, models and personal papers. The archive includes designs for prestigious projects such as Coventry Cathedral and Sussex University.

The collection has been expertly conserved and catalogued, and in 2007–08 was the subject of a critically-acclaimed exhibition that ran at the National Galleries of Scotland, Dean Gallery in Edinburgh, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London and the Herbert Gallery, Coventry.

You can view the material in our public search room or through Canmore, our online search facility, which includes 4,000 digitised images from the Spence Archive. You can browse some of the finest images from the collection below.

In March 2012, RIBA published 'Basil Spence: Buildings and Projects'. A landmark book, it draws extensively on the RCAHMS Spence archive, and is co-edited by RCAHMS Curator of Architectural Collections, Jane Thomas.