"Spending on architecture and building (not always the same thing) has fallen in real terms over the past 200 years," writes Glancey. He uses the medieval parish as an example of a society that was prepared to spend up to half it's long term budget a church. "Where once buildings were the greatest, proudest and most expensive objects money could buy, today we spend on much else besides."
Consumerism has made us philistine in comparison - the proportion of budgets spent on buildings has decreased even as the economy has grown. "Today, we simply can't, or don't want to, afford the price of meticulously wrought buildings. Britain is no longer a productive or a collective society; we are an atomistic nation of individual consumers. We might say we want better buildings, yet evidently, we don't want to pay for them."