33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
A lovely book but .....,
By A Customer
This review is from: England's Thousand Best Churches (Paperback)
This is in many ways an excellent book, the photographs wonderful and the writing, as others have commented, very much a la Pevsner at his pithy best. ... brass rhubarb for the unhelpful keyholder at Dorney, Bucks. indeed - marvellous!
I do, however, have three criticisms:
The first is to do with the book's organisation. Given the ever-increasing fluidity of modern administrative boundaries, which ebb and flow seemingly with each successive Local Government Act, why not use ALL the old, historic, pre-1965/1974 county boundaries, still largely adhered to in the Buildings of England series? Granted we are presented with the recently recreated Rutland and Herefordshire, and even the long-departed Huntingdonshire, so why do we still have to suffer that amorphous lump of "Cumbria", or "North Yorkshire", instead of dealing with the three historic ridings, or the indignity of lovely West Riding churches treated under, horror of horrors, Lancashire.
It may be pertinent that Mr Jenkins has seen fit to go by the old counties in southern England but not in the north and that brings me to my second grumble, namely a slight but still discernable southern bias. We all know that Somerset and Norfolk have outstanding church architecture but so too, as Mr J admits himself, does Yorkshire. So why is it that there are so many more entries for the former than for his "N Yorks" section? And as for Northumberland and "Cumbria", so scanty is the coverage I'm left seriously questioning whether his journeyings actually took him up the A1 much past Wetherby.
Quibble three is that, ex-Anglican or not, there is a wee bit too much concentration on the fourth rate C of E to the exclusion of some first rate Catholic and especially Nonconformist buildings. Yes, Cheadle and Walpole and Tewkesbury Old Baptist are there, but I sought in vane for Newbiggin (Durham), the World's oldest Methodist chapel, or Brigflatts or Colthouse Meeting Houses, and where is the National Trust's lovely Loughwood in Devon?
That said, Simon Jenkins has given us a very fine book and I do hope that he may manage a sequel. Might I be so bold as to suggest a companion 1000 covering the other home countries, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands? But please, if you're reading this Mr J, can we have Radnorshire and Sutherland and not "Powys" and "Highland"?!