Rising at 6 a.m. after a few hours' sleep, Pevsner and his assistant would set off on a planned tour of, say, Devonshire, with the rear seat of their rickety automobile full of books and notes. Pevsner's aim was to cover some 15 villages or small towns in a day. As they approached the town church, he would begin a running commentary on its architecture, then on to the monuments, brasses, pulpits and rood screens within, before marching off to inspect and remark upon the local manor house, the 16th century pub, the 18th century folly and so on. Arriving at nightfall at a grubby bed-and-breakfast, Pevsner would write up the notes and add comments, while his frequently exhausted assistant made telephone calls to ensure access to the next day's list of buildings. This would go on for seven days a week over the several months.
His productivity was phenomenal. In 1951 Penguin published his volumes on the counties of Cornwall, Nottinghamshire and Middlesex (not at all geographically adjacent, it might be noted, and the car was in frequent need of repair). The next year there followed volumes on North Devon, South Devon and "London: Except the Cities of London and Westminster." In 1953 there came Hertfordshire, Derbyshire and County Durham. Three years, nine volumes. He then slowed down to an average of two per year, but by the mid-'60s it was back to three. As his energies faded, Pevsner was joined in his authorship by other scholars of English architecture, such as John Newman and Ian Nairn. The last few volumes of "The Buildings of England" are written entirely by a collaborator or pupil but always in the Pevsner style; earlier volumes were then expanded, again by his colleagues and friends. In 1976, on receiving an honorary degree at the University of Pennsylvania at America's bicentennial, he challenged American scholars to produce "The Buildings of the United States," a challenge that has been undertaken by the Society of Architectural Historians (eight volumes have been published of the 58 planned). He died in 1983 as Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, having changed the way an entire nation thought about its buildings, its landscape, its past.