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4.7 out of 5 stars36
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change
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VINE VOICEon 24 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a gorgeous, sumptuous book. It is not often a book turns out to be much much more than expected. It is a substantial hefty volume. The blurb on the back quotes the TES "without exaggeration, holds enough information and inspiration for a lifetime of church visiting" Which pretty much sums up my opinion. The book is just short of 900 pages, with hundreds of good quality photographs, a decent glossary and good maps. It covers 2,500 of Britain's best parish churches. For anyone who enjoys visiting churches this would make an excellent gift, and deserves to be high up in the Christmas bestseller lists.
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VINE VOICEon 24 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Betjeman had a significant interest in buildings, as his campaigning work to preserve ST Pancras station proved. This volume about churches has taken his original work and applied a skilful update.

County by county, the book documents a thumbnail sketch about the county, notable churches and their architecture. The county sketches are especially interesting as they put the county into context before the industrial revolution. It is interesting to read about Staffordshire as viewed from the 16th century, a county divided between high ground to the north and rich, pastoral land to the south - the potteries and redundant iron works are for the future.

For those interested in visiting particular churches, the inclusion of GPS and OS locations is a help, especially where the church is away from a village.

This would make a magnificent gift for anyone who wants to understand the churches around them, their historical context. It would also make a superb coffee-table book to flip through on occasion.
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on 30 July 2013
I made the mistake of buying this for Kindle having seen it in Waterstones. Physically looking through the book was a wonderful experience and I thought having it on Kindle would be ideal as I could use it whilst hunting down these churches. However, the beauty of the pictures is lost on the Kindle version.
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on 1 March 2013
I've always loved photographing and looking inside churches during walks in the countryside but have little knowledge of the architecture behind them.

This book should remedy my shortcoming in this area. It is packed with wonderful photographs and information on a vast number of churches divided into counties. There is also a 77 page introduction by Sir John which explains their history and structure.

I intend to make full use of it to improve my knowledge of our countries churches. It will be a very useful addition to our National Trust books and guides on other aspects of our heritage.
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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Betjeman's large tome is a joy to read and a good guide and indicator to some of the more attractive churches in Britain. Don't expect a large amount on the churches featured; a number of lines covering the highlights is all that is provided. Used in conjunction with a book such as How To Read A Church: A Guide to Images, Symbols and Meanings in Churches and Cathedrals, I would heartily recommend this book to those interested in ecclesiastical architecture.
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on 17 March 2013
This is a fantastic book of photographs with details on some great churches in Britain.Having it divided by Counties is good. the photographs are very good. Although it a large book it great to look at an area you are visiting and then go and enjoy the actual churches.The price I paid was really good so I am very pleased with this purchase.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This very beautifully put together book is a vast and very practical treasure trove for those of us who find churches fascinating. Despite being such a familiar part of the fabric of our culture, they can appear oddly anachronistic, their prospects for survival increasingly parlous in ever more secular times.

I've long wanted such a book, so I'm terrifically happy to have this. I never knew Betjeman's original version, which (if I recall correctly what I read quite some while ago in the intro) detailed 5,000 churches, and, if illustrated at all, certainly wasn't illustrated as handsomely as this edition. Because it's so lavishly illustrated, it covers only half the number of churches as the original. But 2,500 or so churches seems more than enough to me!

We've carted this weighty hardback tome around with us already on numerous occasions, and found some real gems with it. On a practical note though, a paperback version, should one appear, would undoubtedly be easier to tote about. This deluxe coffee table affair is both big and heavy. But in use, with my iPhone, it was easy to dial in the co-ordinates of a church on the Maps app*, and then drive there.

One little criticism is that the photos in the introductory part of the book give only the village/town name, and then the church name, but not the county. This last bit of information could so very easily been included, and would have been very useful in determining if the church shown is within easy reach. So, for example 'EAST SHEFFORD: ST THOMAS', which happened to be on the page I was on when this shortcoming struck me, could so very easily have been 'EAST SHEFFORD: ST THOMAS (Berkshire)'.

There's a rating system: no stars for your average church, one for your better than average, and two for your gems. Most of the churches we've visited using this book have at the very least been interesting, some have been quite beautiful in parts, and one or two have had a special something that's made the visit really memorable. A few were, admittedly, perhaps to my untutored eyes, rather dull. But when you find something really special - the Anglo Saxon crypt of St Wystan's, Repton (Derbyshire), is an amazing little subterranean space which my wife and I won't forget - the book proves itself to have been invaluable.

An amazing compendium of buildings whose place in our landscape, whilst so ubiquitous we may take them for granted, is by no means assured, this really is a lovely book. I'm docking one star purely because, as others have noted, at half a tonne, it's not as portable as one might wish.

* There is in fact a Betjeman's Best British Churches 'app' for smartphones. Not got it myself, although I'm tempted. Then this could live on the coffee-table, where it might be more at home.
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on 31 August 2015
Great addition to Jenkins...strangely I bought used copy (as new) and company sent me two editions for price of one....not sure why...it certainly isn't a field guide and will stay on the coffee table to be used in planning excursions rather than accompanying them...notes very brief but to the point and more inclusive than Jenkins
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on 12 March 2015
We bought this as a gift for a friend: he loved it. We looked at it before wrapping it up, loved it so much we bought one for ourselves. A wonderful introduction, just the right amount of detail for each church, great photos, very interesting index of terminology. A treat.
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on 16 May 2015
This is a wonderful, informative tour through Britain churches. Perfect for keeping in the car on days out so you can visit listed churches on the way. It gives a brief description of the main or unusual features so you can understand why the particular church was included.
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