The author of this book, Sir Roy Strong, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, is also a broadcaster, and has written a number of bestselling books which include The Story of Britain, The Cult of Elizabeth and The Spirit of Britain.
This book attempts to narrate the complex history and development of the English parish church "...from the first buildings erected in Anglo-Saxon times to its uncertain future in the twenty-first century." That is to undertake quite a task and the author has made a jolly good job of it!
The book has been described as a "richly illustrated elegy, and a plea for the preservation of the country church." Indeed, Strong's book really is both at once a celebration of the English country church - and a passionate plea for its conservation. The author entertainingly and anecdotally relates the dramatic ebb and flow of the English parish church, through its various epochs and vicissitudes.
The reader really does feel as though he or she is actually engaged in a voyage through time; from the arrival of those Catholic missionaries who systematically erected crosses here and there to mark the places where they preached, to the beautiful architecture and aureate pseudo-spirituality of medieval Christianity; from the tumult of the Reformation to the times of the 'squarson', the sedate, gentrified type of cleric we encounter in the works of Jane Austen: we are swept along on a journey of discovery and rediscovery.
This book is an enlightening and an invigorating yarn and this reviewer can heartily commend it to prospective readers.
Michael Calum Jacques