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Department of History of Art



Ralph is a historian of nineteenth-century architecture and society. A social historian by training, he views art as evidence for historical life – both individual and communal. His doctoral project, a monograph on David Bryce (1803–76), was thematically interested in the relationship between architecture and national identity. His thesis (2022) was praised by one examiner as ‘an outstanding piece of work and a genuine contribution to knowledge … a tour de force’.

Ralph holds a PhD (2022) from St John’s College, Cambridge, where he was both a Foundation and Graduate Scholar. He was concurrently an award holder at the Paul Mellon Centre, an adjunct of Yale University. He holds an MPhil degree (2018), with Distinction, from Cambridge University. For this degree he received the highest mark in the University and was awarded a College Prize. Ralph also holds a BA degree in History, with ‘double’ first-class honours. He is a past winner of the Harvard Book Prize (2013).

In the public sphere, Ralph has worked at the World Heritage Centre, UNESCO, and lectured at the National Gallery, the Wallace Collection, and at the Royal Institute of British Architects. He has given papers at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Columbia University, New York; and for the Society of Antiquaries, Edinburgh.

Ralph is an elected fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, in recognition of his contributions to Scottish history. He has advised on the recent revision of The Buildings of Scotland (‘Pevsner’) and is published by the field’s leading journal, Architectural History. He has written and recorded content for Bloomberg Connects and is a sporadic contributor to Private Eye magazine.


  • Thematic Interests: architecture and national identity; architecture and pattern books; architecture in fiction and poetry.
  • English Architecture: high-Victorian ecclesiastical and domestic architecture; Edward Buckton Lamb and the ‘rogue’ architects; the structural privilege of Victorian planning.
  • Scottish Architecture: the origins and revival of Scottish baronial architecture; the practice of David Bryce (1803–76); ‘Balmorality’ and Scottish romantic nationalism.


Key publications: 


Selected Publications

Ralph St Clair Wade, ‘The Roots of the Scottish Baronial: Drawings for David Bryce’s Book Project (1827–1836)’, Architectural History 66 (October, 2023).

Jane Geddes, Ian Gow, Aonghus Mackechnie, Chris Tabraham and Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian, (Yale University Press, 2023). [Contributions to Carberry Tower, Dalkeith Palace and Summerfield, Belhaven]


Selected Papers

Complexity and Contradiction: The Architectural History of the National Gallery (1824–1991)’, The National Gallery (31 August 2023). [Watch]

‘I know of but one Art’: The Life and Work of Alfred Stevens (1817–75)’, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (3 May 2023).   

‘Origins of the Scottish Baronial: New and Unseen Manuscripts by David Bryce (1803–76)’, Society of Antiquaries, Edinburgh (27 April 2023). [Watch]

‘London Treasure Houses’, The Wallace Collection & The Royal Institute of British Architects (24-25 January 2023).

'Building the Bachelor’s Nursery: Agency and High Victorian Planning’, Columbia University, New York (16 September 2022).   

‘The Mountaineering Architect: The Life and Work of William White (1825–1900)’, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (28 April 2022).

Affiliated Lecturer in the History of Art