England's Thousand Best Houses by Simon Jenkins - review by Geordie Greig

Geordie Greig

A Furriner Abroad

England's Thousand Best Houses


Allen Lane The Penguin Press 950pp £30 order from our bookshop

AN UNLIKELY STAR in Simon Jenkins's engrossing and richly detailed book about the palaces, mansions, castles, cottages, abbeys and towers he has chosen as the thousand best houses in England is a rotten little farmhouse dating back to medieval times. 'When I approached the place its owner, Mr Clement, calmed his ferocious dog and demanded of me "You fm Devon?" When I said no he muttered. "A furriner!" I told him I was on my, way, to Cornwall, which he warned me was "bows and arrows country!" A fine sense of territory is still alive in England.' Thus writes Jenkins of a visit there during his remarkable grand tour. The place in question is Broomham Farm, two miles north-east of King's Nympton. He relishes the fact that the scullery and garderobe are covered in dust and dirt. frozen in time and utterlv neglected. What is precious about Broomham is not its past but its present, and that, he fears, cannot last.

This is the perfect book to have beside your bed or on the back seat of your car. It is more like a series of short stories than an architectural anthology. It is never too technical, academic or patronising, but always accessible and personal. It is written with the eye

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