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Jonathan Foyle was brought up in the small Lincolnshire market town of Market Deeping, near Peterborough. By cycling around Lincolnshire and its neighbouring counties, Jonathan developed a keen interest in the mediaeval architecture that he found there.
After leaving school, his formal education continued for another decade! In 1989, He gaine
gained his National Diploma in Art & Design from the Lincoln Art College, where he studied drawing. The college nestled in the shadows of Lincoln Cathedral, about which Jonathan has said, "I think it's my favourite building in the whole world."
He moved on to Canterbury School of Architecture gaining a B.A. (Hons) degree in 1992. This was followed by a year-long History of Art course at London University's Courtauld Institute
Putting this valuable education to good use, Jonathan is now a writer & lecturer, and has provided art work for a variety of exhibitions and publications (click here to see some
Institute, from which he left with an M.A. Degree. Jonathan returned to Canterbury for his Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture in 1995, finally completing his Ph.D in Archaeology at Reading University in 2002, and winning the British Academy's Reckitt Prize as well!
Jonathan in his studio with his drawing of
Jonathan has served as a surveyor of Canterbury Cathedral, and as Buildings Curator at the Royal Palaces of Hampton Court and Kew. He also teaches architectural history for Cambridge University's International Division. In 2007 he became the Chief Executive of the global charity World Monuments Fund Britain. This aims to save endangered architectural sites for future generations.
some of his architectural drawings on his website).
It is as a presenter on a variety of TV programmes that Jonathan Foyle has become well known to the general public. This began in a small way with a Meet the Ancestors (2002) programme about Hampton Court Palace for BBC2.
Appearances on the Channel 4 series Time Team (2003-2009) raise
Archaeological work at Hampton Court
raised his profile still further. He was the Architectural Historian for twelve episodes which included Kew, Greenwich, Queensborough Castle and Syon House, where he described uncovering the remains of a forgotten 15th-century cathedral-sized royal abbey as "a once-in-a-lifetime find for a buildings historian."
In 2005, Jonathan was a co-presenter for BBC2's 'Open Uni
Jonathan Foyle & Tony Robinson in
Chelmsford for Time Team
University' series History Mysteries with Nick Barratt and Miranda Krestovnikoff. The team's investigations included smugg
Cornish smugglers myths at Porthleven; a lost city under the sea; the 18th Century murder of a jester atBe
Nick Barratt, Miranda Krestovnikoff &
Jonathan Foyle present History Mysteries
at Berkeley Castle; a village post mistress rumoured to have been an English spy in the Second World War and the mystery of a man with two tombs in his local church.
Jonathan in Cornwall for History Mysteries
For the 'History Channel US.
US' series Lost World Jonathan contributed to programmes investigating Henry VIII (2007) The Vikings (2007), The Sphinx (2008) and The Pyramids (2008). In a Channel Five documentary The Secrets of Egypt (2008), he investigated whether the Sphinx may once have had the head of a lion.
Jonathan Foyle sketches the Sphinx in
The Secrets of Egypt
Also for Channel Five, Jonathan presented a series of short programmes called County Secrets (2008), in which he goes in pursuit of some hidden historical secrets to be found in ten English counties.
Jonathan Foyle looks at County Secrets.....
....in Chilham, Kent
.....in Great Dunmow, Essex
.....in Richmond Castle, Yorkshire
.....in St Briavels, Gloucestershire
.....in Porthcurno, Cornwall
In 2010, Jonathan Foyle presented two programmes entitled People's Palaces for BBC Four, in which he explored some of the best neo-classical and Gothic civic buildings of the Georgian
Georgian and Victorian eras. His travels took him to places like Liverpool, Rochdale, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, London and Manchester.
Jonathan Foyle in Manchester Town Hall for his series
In 2009, Jonathan received a call from the BBC to say that he was on the shortlist for a climbing series for BBC2. The programme was Climbing Great Buildings where Jonathan would scale both the outside and inside of 15 famous buildings to look, close up, at their architectural detail and reveal their engineering secrets! Being a climbing no
novice, he undertook training in a converted Victorian water tower in North London, where he scaled artificial walls and abseiled 80 feet from the top! His 'sidekick' for the series was Lucy Creamer (seven-times British Climbing Champion) who was chosen to assist, advise & cajole Jonathan whilst he commented on aspects of the architecture and history of the building during each climb.
Lucy Creamer & Jonathan Foyle
Jonathan himself suggested Lincoln Cathedral as one of the buildings to be used in the programme as he was particularly keen to climb its central tower.
Climbing the central tower of Lincoln Cathedral
The Lincoln Imp
(above & below) Coventry Cathedral
Some 'challenges' took Jonathan to his climbing limits, especially the abseil from the top of St Paul's Cathedral, where his apprehension was clear for all to see. He later described this abseil as
Abseiling inside St Paul's Cathedral
as "the most frightening thing I have ever done!" On other occasions he and Lucy clearly enjoyed the zip-wiring that was som
Jonathan says, "I fondly recall the climbs through Lincoln Cathedral with its famous imp perched within its vaults; the fabulous chimneys of Burghley House near Stamford and sitting beneath the copper breast of the western Liver Bird at 300 feet."
Jonathan Foyle zip-wiring from the Liver Building
Jonathan and the chimneys of Burghley House
Jonathon Foyle sits beneath the western Liver Bird
The Lloyds Building
"Plucked from my comfort zone and pushed into places within and upon structures that few have experienced, apart from the original builders, I have seen more thrilling panoramas of places, and wonderful close-up details ofttho
of those buildings I thought that I knew, than I probably ever will again."
(above & below) London's St Pancras Station
Jonathan Foyle & Lucy Creamer on the walls of Caernarvon Castle
I met Jonathan Foyle in November 2010 in Lincoln Cathedral. I had gone there to listen to his talk about his experiences of scaling both the inside and the outside of the building for the TV series Climbing Great Buildings.
I told him that my grandfather was a Lancaster Bomber pilot based at nearby RAF Waddington during the war, and when he saw the Cathedral on his flights back, he knew that he was nearly home.
In February 2011, Climbing Great Buildings won 'best daytime TV programme' at the media industry Broadcast Awards.
Jonathan Foyle is married and has a daughter, Ava (b. 2006).
Jonathan has signed my autograph book
Link to Jonathan's official website:
Click on this link to visit Jonathan's official website, and see pages about his artwork; videos of his County Secrets; stills from Climbing Great Buildings and many lovely architectural photographs from all over Britain.