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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2008
Pevsner's 'Buildings of England' are a remarkable collection of books. I am slowly building up a collection of them all. They are perfect for when guests come to stay and need taking out somewhere.

The Suffolk edition was my first, given as that is my current home county. The photographs are useful indicators of what to expect, and cleverly arranged. The written details may appear to be laborious and lacking of emotion or personality, but anyone who has an understanding of language will quickly come to see that they are at times quite biting.

An excellent resource for a very reasonable price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2010
This is a book for serious-minded people who already have some basic knowledge of and an interest in English history and architecture. If you don't fall into that category don't even think about buying it. The style is thus relatively demanding and even slightly eccentric. Its great merit is that it gives information about buildings you would never have thought existed. For example, until I bought the book I'd always regarded Ipswich as somewhere better by-passed than visited, a place of office blocks in the centre, housing estates on the edge and terraced streets just about everywhere else. However Pevsner reveals its hidden if low-key treasures and justifies a visit. The worst aspect of the book is that Pevsner knows what he likes and has a vaguely disparaging attitude to anything he doesn't.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 18 December 1999
This book was most recently revised in 1974, but is essentially little different from the 1959 original, apart from the addition of sixties buildings and the removal of some major buildings destroyed in that decade. For instance, it still lists the tower of the church at Linstead Magna, even though it was demolished in 1964. However, it is a handy volume, very good if your interest is architectural rather than historical or liturgical. It is the only major guide which lists non-Anglican churches, and it is always good to have a guide to other, non-ecclesiastical buildings in the area. A new edition is in preparation. If it is as good as the new editions for Northumberland and North-East Norfolk, then it will be very good indeed.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 1999
One of the series covering all of England compiled and completed by the author in the late nineteen-sixties. This series formed the basis for the television series featuring the author as architectural historian. This is more than just a catalogue of the buildings of architectural interest in the county. The descriptions contain detail that enable one to enjoy an informed visit to a site. It also contains geographical, archeological and historical background information that helps to explain much about materials and styles used. Keep it in your car! And get the others in the series when you travel elsewhere!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 July 2012
If you are a student of architecture, interested in locating good examples of various architectural styles in your area, this book is useful (as are the others in the series). However, it does pretty well nothing to convey a sense of a town or a building, a feeling for its atmosphere or an affection for those features which make it worth seeing. Here is Pevsner on Southwold, a town utterly lovely and loved by many, so a good example.

The first two tightly packed pages are devoted to the parish church, most of it in a kind of shorthand Pevsner perfected. Of the screen, luminous with figures of saints painted on gesso, their faces scraped clean by Cromwell's men; a palimpsest of our history, delicious, flawed, tragic and glorious, he writes "The dado is painted with a total of 36 figures. They were restored in 1930 by Tristram. Their quality is poor." The miserichords include two of the most delighfully fluid, masterly creations in medieval carving, a little greyhound rolling on its back, delicate feet in the air, and a jolly scaly dragon, coiled round and biting its own tail. Of them Pevsner observes "Also MISERICHORDS, but not of especial interest"

Of the town our author observes "Southwold is one of the happiest and most picturesque seaside towns in England; happy, but not cheerful in the cheerio-sense, and picturesque, but not in the quaint sense of Clovelly. It is a live little town, and it has, at least in its s half, hardly a building that is a visual nuisance." . . . "The perambulation is brief, as there are no outstanding buildings and the attraction of the many minor ones eludes description". While some of this is incomprehensible (what is "not cheerful in the cheerio-sense" supposed to mean?), the last phrase is a real tell-tale; Pevsner's cold analytical methods are powerless to convey the charm of Southwold; a charm which is composed of proportion, atmosphere and human cosiness. "Hardly a building that is a visual nuisance". What a way to describe the hugger-mugger of little enclosed greens, huddled 19th century cottages, quiet pubs, oddly-shaped corner shops and curving lanes that have made Southwold all too popular. Instead he picks out a feature here, a detail there, selecting isolated snippets of architectural interest but dismissing most of the town as, like Nos 24-26 Church Street, "entertaining in their humble pretension".

At one point he actually states "What houses should be singled out? It is the whole that is remembered". Yet he seems unable, here or elsewhere, to find a way to convey the essence of a building or a street, only it's constituent parts, like a man dissecting a butterfly in an attempt to find out why it is beautiful. Lest anyone think Southwold is itself the problem, you only have to turn to his description of Blythburgh church (churches are his alleged strong point) to see how immune he is to light, space and proportion, the three core values of architecture. For Pevsner, though, architecture is about naming the twiddly bits. Segment-headed windows. Pilasters. Pediments. Doric porches. All those things which are stuck willy-nilly onto the mansions of footballers and their wives to create hideous pastiches of classical architecture as unconvincing as a bad toupee. Pevsner's way of describing would do little to distinguish these eyesores from really beautiful buildings, and that is what shows up his weakness.

It is no doubt handy to have a Pevsner when travelling around to make sure you don't miss something; however, the text crams everything together so indiscriminately, and is so blind to the beauties of proportion, relationship and atmosphere, that I fear planning a trip using it would result in a very disappointing time. The illustrations tell us more, drawing our attention to the unusual and intriguing - also making it clear that much of what he admires is, to 21st century tastes, florid and over-blown.

Fans of Suffolk will find the exact opposite approach to Southwold in W. G. Sebald's numinous, dreamlike classic Rings Of Saturn. An interesting contrast
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on 13 May 2013
First saw this series talked about on a television program. Delighted with the Suffolk edition. If I was going to another county to stay for a few days I would buy the appropriate edition. Contains lots of information. It is also illustrated.
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on 11 August 2014
Great way to explore the county and its buildings. Unique in world
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on 17 October 2014
Indispensable book when visiting churches
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2013
Bought as a reference book for local genealogy.one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen.
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