G K Chesterton said it was more original to drop in on your next-door neighbour unannounced than to take a trip round the world. Now Bill Bryson is taking the theory a step further. After twenty-five years of going round the world for his travel books, he has turned his eye to his immediate surroundings – more precisely the inside of his handsome rectory in Norfolk, built in 1851.
His theory is that homes are extraordinarily complex repositories. The big things that happen in the outside world – the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, wars, famines – have effects that you can spot all over your own home. And the little things, too. A clever carpenter in the