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  Title: The Greater English Parish Church

Author: Harry Batsford and Charles Fry

Date published: 1940

Status: out of print

What is it? from the preface: a cheap, well-illustrated book dealing with the greater English churches from the layman's point of view.

What's it like? Novices at a monastery were trained in chanting, and attached to most large establishments was a school for choristers, as at Durham and York, which latter enjoyed a great reputation. The precentor was forbidden to relieve his feelings by slapping the boys or pulling their hair, a right that was reserved for their own master.

What's good about it? Wonderfully rich and in-depth study; it assumes no prior knowledge. Batsford and Fry's lively prose was pitched at the mid-century craze for rambling and exploring in general, and churchcrawling in particular. The style is engaging and unsentimental, a good antidote to Arthur Mee. It remains a super introduction to the subject.

What's bad about it? Because of the time it was written, Batsford and Fry cannot be expected to be anything other than dismissive of post-Reformation architecture and liturgy. The photographs reflect the available technology of the time.

Overall rating: 3/5

Buy this book: widely available in second-hand bookshops.