English Churches Art & Architecture
The aim of this project is to list and detail the architects and architects who worked on Anglican parish churches from the Middle Ages to the present. As such, it follows the model of the similar section in my existing website on Sussex parish churches (www.sussexparishchurches.org) and is thus a very wide remit, so to keep it within bounds there are certain limitations. First, churches that no longer exist have been omitted. Second, also left out are items not normally on view (mainly plate) or requiring specialist knowledge (e g organs and bells). Finally, monuments are also omitted.
I have used the revised volumes of The Buildings Of England (‘Pevsner’) as the main source of information for this project. These are a considerable advance in the amount of information they contain over Pevsner’s original volumes, but they have appeared in stages since the first revised volume came out in 1983 (now much longer ago than the 23-year period of time needed for the whole original series, with about eight volumes still to come), so the earlier ones are themselves now showing their age. That is not a criticism – our knowledge of C19 and C20 architects and artists in particular has progressed enormously with much detailed research. In addition, revisers of volumes are only resourced to undertake limited research and may not have made full use, for example, of less accessible sources. In a few cases the particular interests (or lack of them) of individual revisers are also evident.
This information has been supplemented by books and articles about individual counties and places, as well as, increasingly, websites (I must plead guilty!). These are listed below under individual counties. Much printed material is now quite elderly but that need not diminish its usefulness. There are also more general reference books and monographs about individual artists and architects, despite some curious omissions such as G E Street. In some cases (in addition to Sussex and also noted below) I have found and recorded material from contemporary sources, mostly periodicals like The Builder but also from parish records in a few cases; the counties concerned are marked with an asterisk.
There are now quite a few counties for which websites on the churches exist, but not all provide the kind of information I need. Many consist mostly of images with only a brief linking commentary derived from published material such as the Buildings of England. To single one series out, mention should be made of Simon Knott’s remarkable websites on the churches of the eastern counties, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. As a source of high-quality images they are without equal but they are one person’s response to the churches and not a detailed analysis and description of each with names and dates. In some respects they are at the opposite pole to my own website on Sussex parish churches and there is a place for both kinds.
Websites can be both enormously positive and negative. They allow the researcher to be more expansive, emulating the writers of an earlier age such as Archdeacon Cox on Derbyshire and Dean Cranage on Shropshire. However, they run the risk of prolixity and there is the risk of deficient quality control. The concept of peer review, imported from the sciences and now found widely in the arts, has its limitations, but it can help in establishing consistency and maintaining standards.