The Bartlett School of Architecture

Dr Sarah Dowding

Dr Sarah Dowding

Research Associate

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Jun 2016

Research summary

At the Survey of London, Sarah writes about buildings of all types through the centuries, using microhistories as a means of contributing to broad conversations about how cities change in the long term. She is currently working on Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, with a particular focus on twentieth-century social housing in the area.

From 2016-2020, she was historian and website editor on the experimental 'Histories of Whitechapel' project and has seen the publication arising from this work through to completion (due June 2022). This research has deepened her concern for the ways in which trade and migration have shaped city development and architecture over centuries and she is now further investigating connections between the Caribbean and east London's sugar manufactories. She is an affiliate member of the UCL Migration Research Unit and the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges. Sarah also participates in the Global Urban History Project.

Outside of the Survey, Sarah's research explores diverse stories of the built environment utilising evidence less familiar to architectural historians. She has published articles on a sixteenth-century city block characterised by increasingly international mercantile activity, and a hostel for British seamen from the Caribbean and West Africa set-up in the mid-twentieth century. Aiming to document how the discipline itself has developed (and therefore the stories it has tended to tell), she is Project Manager for 'An Oral History of Architectural Historians' run by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

Sarah began her architectural history research by looking at early modern London and its companies. Her thesis examined the acquisition and development of the estate of one large mercantile guild, the London Drapers’ Company, in the post-reformation period (c.1540-1640). Examining how urban and economic change unsettled civic culture, Sarah traced how authorities sought to represent stability within the Company Hall, publishing an edition of The Dinner Book of the London Drapers' Company in2019. 

Teaching summary

Sarah leads the module 'Surveying and Recording Cities' which is part of the MA in Architecture and Historic Urban Environments (MAHUE). She is also guest lecturer at NYU London and leads the Attingham Trust's 'Twentieth-Century London House' day.


University of Westminster
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2016
University of Westminster
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Postgraduate Diploma | 2010
Glasgow School of Art
First Degree, Bachelor of Architecture | 2007


Sarah Ann Dowding (nee Milne) is a historian at the Survey of London. She trained as an architect and was previously Lecturer in the History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Westminster.