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England in Particular: A Celebration of the Commonplace, the Local, the Vernacular and the Distinctive Hardcover – 22 May 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Saltyard Books; 1 edition (22 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340826169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340826164
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 5.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

It should be at every curious Englishman's bedside. (Alan Titchmarsh)

This book is a joy. (Monty Don)

A living portrait of England here and now, with all the narrative and mystery of the past attached ... The book is gracefully written, phenomenally knowledgeable, and simply exhilarating, speaking as it does of the extraordinary things that are all around us, if we are only prepared to open our eyes to them. (Fay Weldon)

As vital as it is joyous, and as timely as it is inspired ... It should join Shakespeare and the Bible as a "must have" on any English man or woman's desert island. (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

An entrancing green alphabet ..."The land is our most elaborate storyboard," say Sue Clifford and Angela King as they demonstrate this truth in seemingly countless small essays, each one a brief masterpiece of combined natural and social history ... this is a book for all English seasons and for every English mile (Ronald Blythe)

This wise and witty and broad-shouldered celebration (it ranges from accents and airfields to wrestling and zigzags) is the triumphant fruition of their work with Common Ground. (Richard Mabey)

A magical celebration of English diversity and a much-needed wake-up call as we sleepwalk further into the dreary global monoculture. (Zac Goldsmith)

Angela King and Sue Clifford have been pursuing this quarry for more than 30 years and it would be difficult to imagine anyone encompassing more of England between two covers. (Adam Nicolson Evening Standard)

This is one of the most handsome books I've come across in a long while. (Paul Kingsnorth Independent)

ENGLAND IN PARTICULAR does everything that the ideal grandmother would, with equal charm and perhaps an even greater depth of accuracy and information. It should become part of every well-organised family. (Clive Aslet)

Book Description

A magnificent, unique and ground-breaking book about English local distinctiveness, that will appeal to devotees of Simon Jenkins and Flora Britannica.

'It should be at every curious Englishman's bedside.' - Alan Titchmarsh


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Waterbaby on 18 Sep 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book continues the good work of Common Ground, a group which campaigns quietly and intelligently to celebrate all things local, distinctive and interesting. Although this book celebrates England, its approach would translate to Wales, Scotland or any other country on earth.

It's a very beautiful and solid book - a pleasure to handle and look at, with line drawings and lovely typesetting. It's also a book which can be dipped into time and again, so perhaps an ideal present. But it is not a mere coffee table book. Nor is it a paean to John Major's England - country cottages, old ladies cycling to church on bicycles, 'and is there honey still for tea' etc. It's a thoughtful and thought-provoking catalogue of the local foods, landscape features, animals, buildings, legends and customs which make up our current national identity. National identity, like personal identity, is an accumulation of little habits, customs, preferences. So you will find Bakewell Pudding in here, or Hedgerows, or Abbot Bromley Horn Dance.

As you read it will dawn on you that you are quietly being asked - what is it about YOUR place that is special, characteristic, lovely? What would you miss most if it went? Are you taking for granted the loveliest features of your environment just because they are commonplace?

So it's a book that encourages you to look around and rejoice in what survives of earlier traditions. Refreshingly, however, there is no suggestion that we should fossilise our culture and stop buildings, customs or games developing. It merely lists those things which are special to England. If you are one of the many people who takes pride in the curiosities and beauties of England, but doesn't want to keep it in aspic, nor necessarily to fly the flag of St George from a car window, this book will be a great pleasure to you.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Earthshaker on 18 Dec 2007
Format: Hardcover
An engrossing trawl through the detailed, local and vernacular. If you have an interest in the fine detail of the English landscape you'll certainly find a wealth of things here to interest you, be it thatching techniques, new year ceremonies, pub names, breeds of apple or varieties of brick. Anyone who shares a house with you should be prepared to be buttonholed with a series of fascinating facts and if you have a feeling for maps you'll probably feel the need to annotate an atlas of England with things to go and look at. It would be the perfect companion for a journey across England on foot or by bike, at the sort of pace where you can see the stone, soil type and architecture changing gradually - at least, if it weren't so large, which makes it perfect to dip into but too large for a rucksack!
I have a few caveats. There is, of course, some unevenness as one would expect in a compendium of this nature - there is a perceptible slant towards public art projects funded by the Common Ground charity to which the authors belong, which will date it in a few years - and some frustration in the amputated nature of coverage of issues straddling a border, inevitable in a work dealing with England rather than Great Britain. (Treatment of the sea-mist of the east coast really needs to mention dialect names from north of the border as well, for instance, just as discussion of estuaries is a little strange when three of the largest - Severn, Solway and Dee - are only half in England.) Some clearly important subjects, too, such as parish churches or railways, are clearly too large to discuss in the necessary detail in a one volume encyclopedia of this nature, but are still represented - presumably for completeness' sake - in an inevitably frustrating and superficial fashion. These, however, are minor niggles. Plunge in and immerse yourself in a world of Accrington Bloods and Hooden Horses.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Ellers on 30 Jun 2006
Format: Hardcover
While agreeing wholeheartedly with the previous reviewer's sentiments about this excellent book, I felt it was worth pointing out that Crop Circles are on p.118, Sustrans cycle routes on p.122 and Public Libraries on p.260. I wouldn't be surprised if there were sandcastles too, it's a book that continues to give up secrets and surprises on re-reading as well as being an instantaneous treasure.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Mar 2011
Format: Hardcover
How do you sum up a nation in a book? Clifford and King have bypassed all the usual razzmatazz of royalty, military successes (or failures) politics and culture and gone for something much more basic and interesting: the bric-a-brac of everyday life. In 512 pages the two authors have packed in an amazing amount of information. For instance M covers: Maltings; Manhole covers; Market crosses; Market gardens; Markets; Martello towers; May Day; Maypoles; Melas; Mews and on to the last one Music.

Each entry has several hundred words written in a straightforward style that is a pleasure to read. There is a slight downside though because all the entries end with 'See also' followed by a few related subjects. A trap for the unwary because you'll end up, like I did, meandering through these taking in all kinds of fascinating odds and ends and suddenly another hour has gone.

The authors have wisely avoided using photos with the text. Instead the work of several illustrators has been used to liven up the pages. From David Gentleman's pen and ink and Clifford Harper's woodcut style to the simple, deft line and wash technique of James Sillavan, the hundreds of pictures give just the right feel to the pages.

The Contents list all the entries but nicely there is huge Index, amazingly twenty-seven pages long and a very full bibliography for each entry (I mentioned Manhole covers above: five books are listed).

None of the entries deal with anything so vulgar as commerce but if you are curious about how Bovril, Marks & Spencer, British Rail and plenty of others have contributed to the English character have a look at two books by Peter Ashley:
...Read more ›
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