BOOKS PART 2 – Lost Parish Churches of Essex

I daresay that some might disagree with me, but if I truly had to have just two books with which to continue my studies of Essex Churches, then the first, as I have already written, would be the new Buildings of England: Essex – by Dr James Bettley. The second, however, would be Andy Barham’s fabulous book, The Lost Parish Churches of England.

Andy’s book was original published by Ian Henry Publications back in 2000, and has been out of print from soon afterwards. You may be able to find a paper copy online at the likes of Amazon or Abebooks. But just a few months back, I heard from Andy that he has brought this book right back up to date, and has released it on Amazon’s Kindle. If you’ve never owned, seen or read Andy’s book, it really is a must-have. And of course, the benefit of a Kindle edition is that it can come with you on tours of the county. The link to this book is at the bottom of this post.

Why is it so good then? Since originally buying this book, I have had the good fortune to be able to converse with and then meet Andy. This book was the culmination of many trips across the county, which he undertook throughout most of the 1990s with renowned historian Ian Yearsley. They both covered every parish church in the county, though Andy specifically wanted to write the lost churches book.

This book will make you aware of some absolute gems of churches. Some now demolished; some still standing, but in a far from holy state; and others, preserved and maintained. Like St Michael, Pitsea, which was still standing when Andy started the description of that church, but was demolished by the end (December 1998).

It was better news for All Saints, Vange, which in the brief write up, was described as “now closed and its future does not look promising”. Fortunately for that church, and all who love it, it was taken into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, and is now a preserved monument, available for all to enjoy.

Andy’s Lost Churches book, along with Dr Bettley’s ‘Pevsner’ really will give you 80-90% of what you will ever want to know about churches in the county of Essex.

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BOOKS PART 1 – Pevsner

If you’re into Essex churches in a serious fashion, and you want to know more about them, there’s a core of books that you really must have. They are all detailed in the credits page on the main site, and most are available from the Books link in the main menu above.

If you buy only one book, it needs to be the latest version of the book usually referred to as the ‘Essex Pevsner’. This book is actually an updated version by James Bettley, and contains good detail on all important buildings in the county.

It’s always good to get hold of one of the earlier Essex Pevsner editions though, as there can be reference to demolished buildings for instance.

Although the earlier Pevsner editions covered all Chelmsford Diocese churches, they were not as detailed as the updated Bettley version. However, its not all plain sailing, as due to County boundary changes, not all Chelmsford diocese churches are now in Essex. As a result, if you want to cover churches like Chigwell and Silvertown, you now also need a copy of the ‘London 5 East’ Pevsner.

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I hated history…

…when I was at school. I seriously believe that the approach or attitude imposed by a teacher, can make or break a possible career choice. Of course, many subjects may quite easily be dropped or flunked without realising that they could be interesting in later life. For instance, I screwed up Latin & Art. But I’ve never felt pangs of regret about those.

I studied history at a school in Southend-on-Sea, where my first year’s experience of history, at the age of 11, was a teacher who had some very odd methods of teaching. It’s a real shame – as I now know that he really did know his stuff, as he has written several books – and he was, after all, head of history at the school too.

Those sorry teaching methods consisted of:

  • Making us listen to a recording he had made of himself the night before, lecturing the class, whilst he did marking or something else at the front of the class.
  • Copying down maps from the projector – or simply tracing them through normal paper. What was the point of that?
  • But the worst was the insistence that we must not use ballpoint pens. It had to be a fountain pen. This caused me more trouble than anything else. Why? Because my dad got in a right rage about it when I asked them to buy me one, as he – quite rightly – thought it was pretty darned ridiculous.

So if there are any teachers reading this, who like kids to do things their way – simply because they are sticklers for perfection – think before you put someone off of a subject – if not for life – but for their formative years.

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The new blog

I’ve decided that even with Facebook, Google+, Yahoo Groups and all of the other outlets, that this website needs something more, in order to stay in touch with it’s visitors. This blog will not be solely about churches – though they will feature heavily. It will also, however, be concerned with other things that I find of interest. And I hope this interests others too.

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