This paper examines the story, hitherto neglected by scholarship, of the antiquarian artist and architect John Buckler (1770–1851) through a remarkable cache of his letters at the Bodleian Library. Most of the letters relate to Buckler’s attempts to be elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Having twice been blackballed in 1808 and 1809, he canvassed Britain’s leading antiquarian figures for support. With the blackballing of the architect James Wyatt in 1797 frequently alluded to, Buckler’s blackballing was the result of a cabal against him led by Sir Joseph Banks and Samuel Lysons, which had to do with both factionalism – ie his closeness to the preservationist faction led by Richard Gough and John Carter, termed the Carter school – and the Society’s onslaught against professionals. His eventual success in 1810 institutionalised his practice, allowed him entry into polite society and brought him closer to aristocratic patronage. The remainder of the Bodleian letters relate to Buckler’s topographical work recording medieval buildings across the UK, showing how he took on the revisionist medievalist project promoted by the Carter school. The article will explain Buckler’s role in the developing discourses of antiquarianism and the Gothic Revival, and how his association with the Carter school laid the foundations for the work of the Buckler dynasty. Over three generations, in line with the family name (meaning ‘to protect’), they sought to embody the idea of the architect-antiquary as a protector.