Matthew Rice is a painter, designer and writer. A regular contributor to Country Life, he is the author of VILLAGE BUILDINGS OF BRITAIN, to which HRH Prince Charles contributed a foreword. He lives in Oxford and Norfolk with his wife, the potter Emma Bridgewater.
Rice's Church Primer, Bloomsbury, 4th July 2013
The countryside, towns and cities of Britain are full of churches. They represent some of the most iconic, beautiful and occasionally bizarre buildings in the country. They have a lot to say about our history, our art and our ideas. But how do you read them? Through charming illustrations, Rice's Church Primer reveals the basic grammar and vocabulary of church architecture throughout the United Kingdom.
As Matthew Rice says, 'Once you can speak any language, conversations can begin, but without it communications can only be brief and brutish. The same is the case with Architecture: an inability to describe the component parts of a building leaves one tongue-tied and unable to begin to discuss what is or is not exciting, dull or peculiar about it.'
Rice's Church Primer explains the language of architecture in churches, from the restrained Norman style of William the Conqueror to the gilded excesses of the Baroque. The primer begins with an explanation of the basic 'Grammar' of churches: elevation, plan, fronts, vaults and towers. This allows the reader to easily understand what follows. Next comes the 'Vocabulary' of styles in chronological order, from ancient Saxon churches to modern cathedrals. Each period covers component parts like doors, windows, towers, pews, panelling and pulpits. Finally, there is a map pinpointing some of the best churches around the country, so you can practise your newfound fluency in real life.
With Matthew Rice's elegant and witty illustrations to guide you, suddenly you'll understand why naves are necessary, why towers are built as tall as possible and why sometimes even the most respectable church needs a good flying buttress.
“Beautifully illustrated throughout ... It’s easy to not only be enlightened but also delighted by Rice’s drawings, which border on impish and quirky at times ... This is a delightful book, a welcoming introduction that’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t know their Perpendicular from their Decorated” – BBC Countryfile
“Delightful” – Country Life
“Charming, wittily illustrated ... Definitely one to slip into the glove apartment” – Saga
“The words are as engaging as the illustrations, for Mr Rice is a wordsmith as well as a penman, and manages, through both skills, to bring an understanding of the development of church architecture within reach of any reader whose depth of ignorance is matched by the breadth of their curiosity.” – Alan Titchmarsh, Sunday Telegraph
This is a song for Stoke: a fanfare for one of the great cities of the world's first industrial revolution; a lament for the bottle kilns and pot banks, the terraces and mansions that were thrown up or carefully planned to house a global industry and then torn down in the 1960s; and the ballad of a remarkable city - how she was born, how she grew and behaved as a big, bold grown up and how she crumbled as she grew old but, surprisingly, never died. This is not a guide book but an invitation to explore and discover a (deeply flawed) treasure trove.
A beautifully packaged, idiosyncratic introduction to British building styles.
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