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An in-depth look at the English style as a whole
on 15 January 2008
Chapters: 1. Master-works of English Architecture, 2. The General Aspect of England's Cathedrals, 3. The Norman Period, 4. The Earliest Cathedral Gothic, 5. The Maturity of Early English, 6. The Beginnings of Decorated, 7. The Flowering of Decorated, 8. Perpendicular, 9. The Protestant Reaction, 10. The Last Hundred Years.
As you can see, this book focuses on the large-sweep of styles rather than going through each cathedral on an isolated basis. The book also skips back and forth to the same buildings over various chapters, due to the diverse amount of work from different periods in every English cathedral. This is not jarring at all if you read with the expectation of an overview of the style, rather than an area-by-area analysis of individual buildings.
The book is littered with high quality black and white photographs, at least one per double page, sometimes full-page, and occasionally up to three on a single page. They cover exterior, interior, and a wealth of crisp closeups of carvings and other detail. Floorplan illustrations can be found before the index, accompanied by brief descriptions of the noteworthy factors of each building.
The tone is scholarly, and despite being written in the 1960s, still rather accurate by today's standards - eschewing dubious and romanticised tales. His sheer enthusiasm for the style comes across well, with numerous statements of disappointment at lost original fittings or glass. The chapter on recent cathedrals contain the usual suspects (Westminster, Liverpool x 2, Coventry, Guildford, Truro), and, happily, does not skip past them in a cursory way in just a few pages - 14 gives a suitable impression of their worth.
The difference between this and the previous edition (excluding the different cover) is that this one is printed on higher quality paper. It wasn't a particular problem with the previous one (the photographs still looked good), but better paper is always preferable.