A Guide to British Buildings
I received this book for Christmas about ten years ago, after really enjoying the television series it was based on. This is the book of a very interesting television series about British architecture, which had the premise that the historical buildings we almost see as part of the landscape, were as shocking in their day as architectural innovations are nowadays. And some of them were a lot more colourful, as the fashion for painting half-timbered houses black and white came in in the 17th to 18th century; before then they might have been the silvery colour of weathered oak with ochre yellow, or red and white. Although this book is illustrated, I did use Google a lot while I was reading it, to find pictures of some of the other buildings mentioned, such as Rufford Old Hall
in Lancashire, of which it said "In some places there is so much oak that the expression half-timbered becomes a nonsense.".
Since I started reading it, I have been paying much more attention to the construction of the buildings I pass. I knew that Saint Mary's church round the corner from where I live (not mentioned in the book) was mediaeval and in the gothic style, but I hadn't known that the rectangular shapes and large windows with thin tracery meant that is is an example of perpendicular gothic, the latest style of gothic.
I also think that frequent trips to Wollaton Park as a child to play on the adventure playground, visit the natural history and industrial museums, go sledging in winter, walk round the lake, feed the ducks and look at the deer, probably made me rather blase about the delights of Elizabethan houses. The book calls Wollaton Hall an Elizabethan prodigy house, and particularly mentions its recently restored prospect room. Its proximity to Nottingham caused the owners to move out and let it to tenants as the city crept nearer in the late 19th century, and nowadays the house and park are surrounded by suburbia and owned by the city council.