Posted by: billpurdue | October 20, 2009

71 A bit about buildings (and cookery)

I think it was the Channel  4 series “Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour” that gave me the idea that I might do a quick round up of a few books on architectural styles. The range is vast, but there are a few titles available at the moment which, as someone who would like to know a bit more about the buildings around us, I wouldn’t mind on my shelves.

Rice's ArchitecturalFirst of all, there’s Rice’s Architectural Primer [Bloomsbury £14.99 978-0747597483] by Matthew Rice. Published in July this year, this book claims to enable the reader to recognise any architectural style and to explain the evolution of styles “from Norman castles to Norman Foster”. It’s a small-ish hardback with no dust jacket and just right for the glove box for all those who like to have the book handy in the car instead of trying to remember to look it up when they get home. There are no photographs, but it is profusely illustrated by the author.

village BuildingsMatthew Rice is also the author of Village Buildings of Britain [Little, Brown £12.99 9780316726245]. This book has been around in several editions for a long time; it’s about how the styles of vernacular architecture (ie. the houses that you and I live in, rather than stately homes, cathedrals and the like) vary across the country. Beautifully illustrated by the author, it looks at the styles of each region in turn, with Nottinghamshire (or at least south Notts.) included in the chapter on “The Shires”. Numerous examples of whole houses or building details are illustrated as well as the occasional double page spread of a water colour showing a house in its landscape setting. A lovely book to browse through whether you are interested in buildings or not.

Talking of lovely books to browse through The Houses of Britain: the outside view by John and Mark Prizeman [Quiller Publishing Ltd; 3Rev Ed edition, £14.95 978-1899163670] is about the outside appearances of the different types of British houses. Illustrated with photographs and coloured drawings, it aims to give the reader an educated understanding of our houses, towns and villages. The original title was Your House: the outside view. The late John Prizeman was an eminent architect and writer. His son Mark has brought the work up to date for the 21st Century.

Clive AsletIn contrast, this book has almost no illustrations: The English House by Clive Aslet [Bloomsbury £20 9780747577973] explores the relationships between building styles and design and the way we have lived over the past millennium. Each chapter takes a single building as an example of the buildings for a particular era and looks at its design, the people who built it and lived in it and buildings like it. Beginning with Boothby Pagnell Manor House, from the Norman period, we have examples of buildings for people from all walks of life and two of these are fairly local to our area – No 10 North Street, Cromford, one of a terrace of houses built by the industrialist Sir Richard Arkwright for his workers and No 7 Blyth Grove, Worksop, now a National Trust property known as “Mr Straw’s House”.  A very readable book for historians and architecture enthusiasts alike.

…and finally a cookery book

Good Granny CookbookWe hear and see a lot of cookery books and programmes from High Fearnley-Whittingstall, but did you know that Hugh’s mum is a pretty good cook too? Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall  has produced a book full of traditional recipes which have been brought up to date for the modern cook: The Good Granny Cookbook [Short Books £14.99 9781906021665] There are no glossy pictures, but instead lots of detail about the recipe instructions and background information about the recipe origins and a few reminiscences from Jane’s childhood. Included is a recipe for “stovies”, which Jane describes as a “sort of deconstructed shepherd’s pie” (delicious!) . Jane is also the author of The Good Granny Guide.

By the way, sorry for the late arrival of this post, due to computer problems which are on the way to being solved. Computers are wonderful – most of the time.


  1. What a most interesting blog – several of these will definitely be on my Christmas wish list. Thanks.

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