3 minutes reading time (517 words)

Back on the Pevsner Project

Nikolas Pevsner was an architectural and art historian best known for his monumental guides, in County volumes, of The Buildings of England. I first came across his name when I was travelling around Cumbria with an old guidebook of my Mum's. She worked in the Tourist Information Centre in Whitehaven and had a number of reference books to help in her job. This old guidebook called 'Cumbrian Villages' by Kenneth Smith can still be found in local second hand bookshops. It is 50 years old. But I love it because it features buildings that are either no longer there or repurposed. As an ex school teacher, I love looking for the old village schools. I often eat in the village pubs on my visits, and I like to search out the sites of old pubs and former post offices. 

As I wandered about reading the guidebook, it kept mentioning Pevsner so I googled him and went off to Michael Moon's amazing bookshop in Whitehaven to buy a copy of the Cumberland and Westmorland edition. My edition is dated 1967 and a number of people are thanked in the foreword including Kenneth Smith, who I discover was librarian in Carlisle and Daniel Hay, who I do remember, as he was the librarian in Whitehaven. He also asks users to draw his attention to errors and misprints, of which I have discovered quite a few.

A bicycle shed is a building, Lincoln cathedral is a piece of architecture. Nearly everything that encloses space on a scale sufficient for a human to move around in is a building; the term architecture applies only to buildings designed with a view to aesthetic appeal.

Nikolaus Pevsner

Originally I made notes and a few sketches using pen and felt pens in a small notebook and then on discovering handmade khadi paper at just 6"x4" I started to paint the buildings from photos I took on my visits. They began to accumulate and so I bought some photo albums to store my paintings. Currently I'm working through the buildings in the Cumberland section. I've given myself 10 years to do them. Maybe I'll get onto old Westmoreland eventually. I do sell them from time to time as I go along so there will never be a display of them all as this helps to fund the project. 

I've met some lovely people on my travels. I often get approached if I'm sitting in a pub on my own. People feeling sorry for  a lone diner often ask me to join them. Sometimes I think they are curious as I sit scribbling in my notebook and just want to know what I'm up to. If I'm painting in my van people are as curious to see in my van as they are to see my paintings. 


There are hundreds of churches in the book to paint that span over 800 years.


There are some beautiful old houses, some are still houses, whilst others are hotels or residential homes.


Some of the oldest structures in the book are ruins.



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Saturday, 13 August 2022

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