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The Pinecone Hardcover – 6 Sep 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571269508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571269501
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 354,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Clearly focussed, wonderfully stimulating and surprisingly colourful. (Andrew Lycett Sunday Telegraph)

Uglow has produced a quiet masterpiece: a book to savour and treasure. (Miranda Seymour Sunday Times)

I don't know another book that feels quite like this one. (A. S. Byatt New Statesman Books of the Year)

It is a riveting story and Jenny Uglow makes the most of it. (John Martin Robinson The Spectator)

Jenny Uglow proves not only the importance of Sarah Losh, but shows what biography at its very best can do. (Frances Wilson Literary Review)

An exuberant match for the beautiful, ornate and movingly personal nature of Losh's extraordinary church. (Rachel Hewitt The Guardian)

Book Description

The Pinecone by Jenny Uglow explores the love, life and craftsmanship of Sarah Losh and brings to life an extraordinary Romantic heroine, a region and an age.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is good that the achievement of Sarah Losh, landowner near Carlisle and amateur architect, should at last have been recognised in this fine book. St Mary's, Wreay is one of the very few churches to have been designed by a woman. Not only that, but its form is very unusual in this country, a small Lombardic cell with a wonderful apse. And all over it there is nature carving, all designed by Miss Losh. It is a remarkable building to find on the village green of a quiet, inconspicuous Cumbrian village. The carving prefigures the Arts and Crafts movement by forty years.

An interesting monograph on the church was compiled a few years ago by Stephen Matthews, owner of the excellent Bookcase bookshop in Carlisle, but I know he was delighted that Jenny Uglow became interested in Miss Losh; Jenny Uglow has an impressive list of good publications to her credit, and this book is elegantly written and as thorough as the sources allow. This latter point is really the only caveat (apart from a few typos): Miss Losh destroyed almost all her papers and so the author has to infer what she was like from the accounts of others and from the physical evidence contained in the church. There is much material about the extended Losh family, some of whom made a lot of money (and some of whom didn't), and figures as diverse as Wordsworth, Humphry Davy, George Stephenson and Lord Grey flit through these pages. What a small world it was in the early 19c.

A fine achievement, but how fascinating it would have been to explore Miss Losh's own papers and fill out her story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Pinecone tells the story of a church built during the early Victorian era in the village of Wreay, just outside Carlisle, and of the remarkable woman who designed it. In an age when Gothic architecture was all the rage the church was unusual for being built in a Romanesque style but, as Jenny Uglow's beautiful book reveals, the true uniqueness and brilliance of the building and the woman behind it goes much deeper than that.

Sarah Losh, intelligent, thoughtful, generous, was born into a respected and wealthy Cumbrian family. Much of her life only seems to be known to us at one remove. She is mentioned in the diaries and letters of her family, and the records and documents relating to the building of her church provide fascinating insights into the workings of her intellect and imagination and yet much about her remains tantalisingly opaque. In the diaries and letters we see her through the eyes of others but in her church we see her, perhaps, as she saw herself.

Sarah's family moved in exalted circles; Coleridge and Wordsworth were friends and they held influence with the great and the good of the North of England. They also followed the discoveries of their age. The early 1800s saw tremendous advances in science and industry with many of the innovations that reached fruition in the Victorian era - the extensive railways and the rise of the merchantile middle-classes for example - having their origins in the late-Georgian period. Behind the technological triumphs however there are fears and doubts. Lyle's work in the field of geology sows the first seeds of unease that will grow to fruition in the work of Charles Darwin. All of this fascinating intellectual and spiritual ferment somehow found expression in a small church in the north of England.
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Format: Hardcover
Here is an architect you have never heard of: Sarah Losh. One of the reasons you haven't heard of Losh is that she has one fine church to represent her oeuvre. One of the reasons is that this little structure was built in 1842, and it was built in an out-of-the-way village, Wreay, outside of Carlisle in northern England. Another reason is simply that she was a woman, so she really wasn't an architect because women were not allowed to be architects. She was, however, an extraordinary woman in many ways, and now she has as full a biography as can ever be written. Jenny Uglow, who has written several outstanding books about personalities of that age and locale, has an appreciation for Losh's life and her remarkable church in _The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine - Antiquarian, Architect, and Visionary_ (Faber and Faber). The book has good pictures, and concentrates on St. Mary's Church in Wreay, partly out of necessity. Losh didn't leave much documentation of her life. She wrote poetry, but none of it remains, and she kept a journal which others read and treasured and kept passages from, but she burned her journals and other documents. If she ever fell in love, or wrote love letters, we have no evidence. What she did have, and what enables Uglow to tell her story in this fullness, is a bustling family with wealth coming in plentifully from the chemistry of the Industrial Age; a time of political upheaval and Losh's own radicalism; and the little church, which shows an energetic and independent mind.

Losh got much of her education courtesy of her Uncle James, who advocated various liberal policies including education for women.
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