|Title: The King's
Author: Arthur Mee
Date published: 1941
Status: out of print, but all too easily obtainable I'm afraid.
Price: GBP 19.95
What is it? The Suffolk volume in the famous fat red King's England series.
What's it like? By a cart track we come to all that is left of the Norman church. Remote and solitary in the fields, it is like some lonely watcher who stands forgotten at his post. A few gravestones are scattered round it and a broken coffin lies near; dismantled and desolate it seemed, all neglected and unloved. A little Norman window tells of its long record as a house of prayer.
What's good about it? A 450 page gazeteer to almost every Suffolk parish on the eve of the Second World War has to have something going for it. It is also essential reading for Mee cultists (see below).
What's bad about it? Where do you start? Barmy Arthur is by turns verbose, sentimental, nationalistic and just plain old-fashioned inaccurate. At times, this is so bad that it becomes compulsive - Mee is a cult figure among many modern church crawlers, who practice their own spoof 'Mee' to try out on each other. Much of the book reads like a succession of failed entries in short story competitions. If you read volumes for other counties, then after a while all England becomes a blur of romantic twaddle.
Overall rating: 2/5