This guide to monastic ruins in the British Isles looks at ruins that range from great buildings like Fountains Abbey and Rievaulx to the tiny fragments of obscurer priories. The book includes a history of the monastic orders in Britain as well as essays on their particular architectural styles. Henry Thorold is the author of the "Collins Guide to Cathedrals, Abbeys and Priories" and winner of the Thomas Cook Award for the best guide-book of the year.
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No comparable guide exists – or has ever existed – to the visible remains of the vanished world of monks and nuns throughout the length of Britain. Henry Thorold has spared no pains to track down the most remote or improbable sights, whether it be, as so often, down a track off a lane in the grandest, wildest parts of England, Scotland or Wales, a car-breaker's yard or a supermarket car park in a busy town.
Of course all the famous abbey ruins, Fountains, Rievaulx, Tintern and the others, are here and superbly described by an expert, but an expert with a fresh eye for the agreeable incroguities that time has bought. Henry Thorold's combination of knowledge of buildings, both ecclesiastical and secular, with a sensibility to their present environment and the imagination to perceive them as they were in their heyday was recognised by Sir John Betjeman and John Piper, as general Editors of the old Shell Guides. Henry Thorold wrote no less than five of them, winning the Thomas Cook Travel Book of the Year award with the last in 1985.
The present work, like his earlier 'Collins Guide to Cathedrals., Abbeys and Priories' a labour of love for places of worship. In that book the buildings described were still in use. In this the sounds of chant and intercession have long been silent, yet they are not less poignantly felt. John Piper wrote in his forward to 'Cathedrals': 'Driving about in one of his counties I often think "What does Henry say about this place?" And there, if one stops and looks, is an admirable prose-poem about it – short, informative and original.'
What gives the book its special charm is the author's power to trace the career of the buildings after they had been expelled, like Adam and Eve, from the garden. Love of medieval piety does not make him hostile to the graces and beauties of the Age of Reason. Indeed vandalism, philistinism and the slovenly use of the English language are the only serpents in this Eden of enjoyment.
The evocative photographs by Peter Burton and Harland Walshaw were taken on their travels with the author. They should tempt many other travellers to stray, and to discover these romantic ruins in the company of Henry Thorold.
'Henry Thorold is vividly perceptive about the atmosphere of buildings: whether admiring or critical, the remarks are always clear and worth remembering . . . His authoritative and up-to-date descriptions of the great cathedrals could not be better done . . . The shorter descriptions of the lesser abbeys and priories are done with an immediate feeling for the atmosphere of each place, and the excitement of discovery.'
'There are some architectural writers who can give a valuable and memorable personal interpretation in words which perfectly encapsulate a perceived image. The now-departed John Betjeman and Alec Clifton-Taylor were, of course, among this select company, of which Henry Thorold is a distinguished member.'
DEREK LINSTRUM, ' Yorkshire Post'
'Apart from his masterly description of the cathedrals, it is refreshing to hear Thorold's distinctive voice amid his more general observations in the admirably concise and comprehensive guidebook.'
HUGH MONTGOMERY MASSINGBERD,' The Field'
'This is a must for anyone who confuses their groin vaults with their rib vaults . . . Anyone who has until this time found it difficult to untangle the various parts of cathedrals can breath a sigh of relief. Thorold's style is poetic, and he writes for all he is worth to convey his enthusiasm for his subject.'
ROSEMARY BURTON, 'Punch'
Henry Thorold is the author of ‘Lincolnshire Churches Revisited’ and five of the ‘ Shell Guides’ to the English counties and ‘Collins Guide to Cathedrals, Abbeys and Priories’(1986). The latest, ‘The Shell Guide to Nottinghamshire’, won the 1985 Thomas cook Award for the best guidebook. A Trustee of the Historic Churches Preservation Trust and Chairman of the Lincolnshire Old Churches Trust, he lives in Marston Hall near Grantham, home of the Thorold family since the fourteenth century
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Book Description Harpercollins, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002177161
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002177161