The Reginald Cordingley Papers

Scope and Content

Papers of Reginald Cordingley (1896-1962), architect and architectural historian.

Reginald Cordingley's papers contains both personal and professional material spanning his architectural career. The collection largely consists of Cordingley's drafts and architectural research for academic lectures and articles that were to be published in architectural journals (RCP/1). Drafts and research pertaining to Cordingley's article on Stokesay Castle (Shropshire) can be found in this series, also (RCP/1/30-31). Through such research, Cordingley acquired a large quantity of photographic material from friends and colleagues, which is a separate series of documents (RCP/2). Photographs taken by Cordingley, himself, are also contained in the collection and, in some cases, negative film. Architectural drawings can be found amongst Cordingley's research and his own illustrations and sketches are also included.

The collection contains correspondence and related papers relating to his work for various professional bodies (RCP/5 -7). Cordingley's competition entry to Sheffield University is amongst the collection, in addition to his architectural reports on rural planning in South Cheshire (RCP/4) and Durham Cathedral (RCP/1/22). A copy of a letter from Thomas Cahill to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Manchester (RCP/3/1) is included in the collection, despite its posthumous nature. Sent after Cordingley's death, Cahill provides a significant obituary to his close friend, which highlights Cordingley's wealth of professional achievements and his personal character. Cordingley's papers are particualrly useful for the development of professional architectural education, and for the study of English vernacular architecture and building techniques, where he was an acknowledged expert.

Administrative / Biographical History

Reginald Cordingley was appointed Professor and Director of the School of Architecture at the University of Manchester from 1933 until his death in 1962.

Cordingley graduated from the University of Manchester in 1922 with a first class honours in architecture. In the same year he became an assistant lecturer at the University, and was elected an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (A.R.I.B.A.). In 1923 Cordingley was awarded with the Rome Scholarship in Architecture and attended the British School of Architecture in Rome in the years that followed. He returned to England in 1926, when he was appointed resident architect of Durham Cathedral. During his time in Durham, Cordingley founded both the first School of Town and Country Planning, and the architectural firm of Cordingley and McIntyre of Durham. Cordingley took a masters of architecture degree at Durham University in 1929 and was appointed the chair of architecture in 1933 at the University of Manchester.

Cordingley played an important role in building up the University's school of architecture, and established it as one of the leading university departments in the UK. The School developed a strong research reputation in architectural history, especially English vernacular architecture, which was Cordingley's area of expertise. Among Cordingley's students were George Grenfell Baines and Norman Foster. Cordingley was president of the Society of Architectural Historians, president of the Manchester Society of Architects, and a member of the council of both the Royal British Institute of British Architects and the Town Planning Institute. As an advocate for educating architectural history he was made responsible for the revision of Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture. Despite Cordingley's distinguished career, his reserved and shy character meant that his work did not receive full public recognition.


The collection is divided into the following series: 

  • RCP/1 -Lectures and Papers
  • RCP/2 -Photographs
  • RCP/3 -Correspondence
  • RCP/4 -Architectural Plans, Reports, and Competition Entry
  • RCP/5 -The British School at Rome
  • RCP/6 -The Manchester Society of Architects
  • RCP/7 -The R.I.B.A. Committee on the Training of Architects in Town Planning

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Acquisition Information

The collection was transferred to the University Library from the School of Architecture in April 2006, where it appears to have been kept since Cordingley's death.

Other Finding Aids


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

Collection has been appraised.


None expected.

Related Material

University of Manchester Library also has custody of the following related collections:

  • University of Manchester, School of Architecture DAR;
  • University of Manchester Architecture and Planning Students Society archive MAS;
  • Department for Town and Country Planning archive, DTP;
  • Manchester Society of Architects archive, MSA;
  • Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain archive, SAH.

The British Architectural Library also has custody of material pertaining to Cordingley.