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  Title: Companion to the English Parish Church

Author: Stephen Friar

Date published: 1996

Status: in print

Price: GBP 16.99 (11.89 on Amazon)

What is it? A comprehensive, fully illustrated A-Z guide to the parish churches of England and Wales, with hundreds of comprehensive entries organised alphabetically, and many cross-references.

What's it like? Perambulation or 'beating the bounds', of a PARISH is still practised in some places, though as a custom rather than of necessity. Until well into the second half of the 19th century, vestries were responsible for investigating the boundaries of their parishes to ensure that boundary stones and other markers had not been removed, and that no new (and unrated) buildings had been erected without their knowledge. The perambulation included the incumbent and officers of the VESTRY, together with carious school children and village notables, all armed with wands of office, usually willow rods, which were used to 'beat the bounds'.

What's good about it? Clear, lucid, precise. It goes far beyond the architectural and liturgical, to explain all aspects of church life. Essential as a reference source, also fun just to dip into.

What's bad about it? Necessarily broad brushstrokes in some areas.

Overall rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon.co.uk (UK and Europe), Amazon.com (rest of the world)