The title of this riveting book is mildly misleading. Sir Roy Strong certainly does give us a history – little only in size – of the English country church, but in doing so he gives us far more besides. He tells the story of the church in England and, when the time comes, of the Church of England too. Strong writes as a believer and, given his conservative take on the past in so much of the rest of his writing, surprises with his pronounced lack of conservatism regarding the development of the Anglican rite. It is all too often left to atheists like your reviewer to seek to uphold the beauty of the 1662 Prayer Book and the King James Bible, while believers like Strong argue for progress.
Such sentiments have their place towards the end of what is largely a book about art and architecture. Because of the battles between Church and State over the last few centuries, and the regulation of the look of places of worship according to prevailing