British Architecture and its Background

By John B. Nellist

Achitecture is a hobby of mine. Or rather, I love good buildings, and I often need a handbook to help me design buildings for novels or roleplaying games. So when I happened upon this volume for the bargain price of f17,90 (original price 38s, online available for about $35,-), I snapped it up immediately.

  • Author: John B. Nellist
  • Title: British Architecture and its Background
  • Pages: 361
  • Published: 1967
  • Publisher: MacMillan and Co

And very right I was to do so, too. This is a book out of thousands. It makes good its promises; and it does tell the reader in loving detail about British architecture (and its background).

It’s important that a book on architecture is written with love and appreciation for what is described. All too often, architects dismiss the silly function-follows-form designs of the past as passé; and then are surprised that nobody wants to live in the Black Widow in the Hague. (Architecture is a subject I can rant on ad lib. The beautiful proportions of the Amstel railway station in Amsterdam have been obscured by shop booths for too long. It is being restored now, and, please, go and take a look. It’s the last truly beautiful building built in Amsterdam, and dates from the fifties, showing more affinity with the the iso-standard European palace layout pioneered by Bernini, than with the iso-standard railway station layout.)

Anyway, the book under review combines a deep insight in the subject matter with extremely clear and engaging expository prose in the best traditions of engaged writing, well chosen illustrations to the text and perfect renderings of facades and equally helpful maps.

This book is a treasure on my shelves.

And I found it very interesting to learn that some castles in England have two completely separated living areas. One for the lord, one for his retainers. If his retainers were to rebel, he could close them off completely. Shows unusual foresight.

And I want to visit Wells.