Gwyn Meirion-Jones

Meirion-Jones Photographic Collection

Professor Gwyn Meirion-Jones initiated the modern study of vernacular buildings in France with his PhD thesis published in 1982 in Edinburgh entitled The Vernacular Architecture of Brittany. He subsequently undertook long-term research on manors and châteaux in this area. This work resulted in a collection of nearly 16,000 colour photographs recently donated to the Ille-et-Vilaine Departmental Archives.

The first body of slides was produced during his research, from 1969 onwards, for his PhD thesis devoted to rural habitations and vernacular architecture in Brittany, namely the small houses belonging to Breton farmers and labourers. Back then, there were still a very large number of so-called traditional houses. Most of these were built of stone, but there were also several earth-based constructions, mostly covered in slate and sometimes still thatched in certain regions. This first part of the collection thus mainly comprises photographs of rural habitations but also includes landscapes and a small number of churches and chapels.

From around 1980, Meirion-Jones' research turned to manors and small châteaux to expand his knowledge of Breton residences, resulting in the slides that make up the second part of the collection. The results of this research are recorded in a series of articles published in French (see bibliography in "The Project" tab), mainly in the journals of Breton learned societies, as well as in three collective books. He partnered up with Michael Jones for the documentary research component of this work, along with dendrochronologists who helped him date the oak used in the construction of these buildings.