This booklist, compiled in November 2008, lists sources of information and expertise for anyone who is interested in historic houses. This includes not only books, but also websites, journals and organisations.
It also throws its net widely, recognising that historic buildings never stand alone; the story they can tell us depends on the landscape – or townscape – within which they stand, the ways in which their occupants earned their daily bread, and how successive generations altered them to suit their own ideas and needs.
Most of the books listed will be obtainable through the public library system, though they may not be easily found on the shelves and you may need to wait a week or so while a copy is found through the inter-library loans system. Copies can also be found, new or second-hand, in bookshops and over the web.
Bookshops don't tend to stock many new books on buildings so it’s hard to find somewhere to browse. However you can often buy current editions second-hand, because books on buildings don't seem to change very often, if at all. Also many are out of print. So second-hand bookshops are a good source.
Shire Books publish a series of pamphlets and short books which provide a cheap, basic introduction to many architectural/historical subjects. They are also bringing out new books all the time so it is worth checking their website at www.shirebooks.co.uk or asking for a booklist by phoning them on 01206 256 002.
Aston, Interpreting the Landscape (Routledge 1985)
W.G.Hoskins, The Making
of the English Landscape.
David Lloyd, The Making of English Towns (Gollancz paperback edition 1992)
Richard Muir, The English
and Hudson 1980)
Oliver Rackham, The History
of the Countryside (Phoenix paperback 1997).
The Landscape of Britain from the beginning
to 1914 (Routledge
David Austin, Mac Dowdy and Judith Miller, Be your own House Detective (BBC Books 1997)
John Betjeman, Ghastly Good Taste (Century 1986, in the National Trust Classics series)
Bill Breckon, Jeffrey Parker and Andrew, Martin, Tracing the History of Houses (Countryside Books 2000).
R.J.Brown, The English Country Cottage (Robert Hale 1979).
R.W.Brunskill, Traditional Farm Buildings of Britain (Yale University Press 1999)
R.W.Brunskill, Vernacular Architecture, An Illustrated Handbook (Faber and Faber 2000) The bible for vernacular buildings.
• There are also numerous other books by Brunskill.
Stephen Calloway and Elizabeth Cromley (editors), The Elements of Style – an encyclopaedia of domestic architectural detail (2005).
(edited by Jack Simmons) The Pattern of
English Building (Faber
and Faber 1987).
Pamela Cunnington, How Old is Your House? (Alphabooks 1980).
James Stevens Curl, Encyclopaedia
of Architectural Terms (Donhead 1992)
Anthony Emery, Discovering
Medieval House, (Shire)
Richard Harris, Discovering
Timber-Framed Buildings (Shire 1999)
D.Iredale and J.Barrett, Discovering Your Old House (Shire).
Osbert Lancaster, Pillar
to Post (or the Pocket Lamp of Architecture).
Lancaster, Homes Sweet Homes (1953)
John McCann, Clay
and Cob Buildings (Shire).
Richard Morriss, The Archaeology of Buildings (Tempus 2000)
J.E.C.Peters, Discovering Traditional Farm Buildings (Shire)
Christopher Powell, Discovering
Cottage Architecture (Shire)
Hubert Pragnell, Architectural Britain (National Trust Books 2007)
Village Buildings of Britain (Time Warner Books paperback 2003 – with
earlier editions published by Little Brown)
John Summerson, The Classical
Language of Architecture (Thames and Hudson paperback 1980, originally published in 1963)
• There are numerous other books and articles by Summerson.
Paula Sunshine, Wattle and daub (Shire).
T.W.West, Discovering English
Trevor Yorke, British Architectural Styles – an easy reference guide (Countryside Books 2008)
Trevor Yorke, Timber-framed Buildings Explained (Countryside Books 2010)
Trevor Yorke, The Victorian House Explained (Countryside Books 2005)
Trevor Yorke, The Edwardian House Explained (Countryside Books 2006)
Trevor Yorke, The 1930s House Explained (Countryside Books 2006)
Trevor Yorke, The Country House Explained (Countryside Books 2003)
N.W.Alcock, M.W.Barley, P.W.Dixon and R.A.Meeson, Recording Timber Framed Buildings: An Illustrated Glossary (Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook in Archaeology no.5, 1999).
Susan J.Brown, A Practical
Guide to Measuring and Drawing a Timber-framed Building (Essex Historic Buildings Group
Buildings: a guide to good recording practice (English Heritage 2006)
P.Swallow, R.Dallas, S.Jackson and D.Watt, Measurement
and Recording of Historic Buildings (Donhead 2004)
N.W.Alcock and Linda Hall,
Fixtures and Fittings in Dated Houses 1567-1763 (Council for
British Archaeology 2002) Practical Handbooks in Archaeology no.
The Chilterns Design Guide, available
from Chilterns Conservation Board.
Leslie Hepple and Alison Doggett, The Chilterns (Phillimore 1994)
Niklaus Pevsner and Elizabeth Williamson, The
Buildings of Buckinghamshire (Penquin 1994)
A few older publications are worth looking up in the library (the BAS Library at the County Museum, the County Reference Library or the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies - all in Aylesbury):
Buckinghamshire North and Buckinghamshire
The Victoria County History
otherwise William Page (editor)
George Lipscomb, The History and Antiquities of Buckinghamshire, (1847).
J.J.Sheahan, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire (London 1862).
Records of Buckinghamshire is published by the society. An index of 150 years of articles is on-line at http://www.bucksas.org.uk/articles.html.
Local authorities can also be good sources as they hold the lists of listed buildings (‘the Green backs’) and most have listed building descriptions on-line. Also conservation area appraisals and design guides.
Parish councils sometimes have historical information which isn't published or generally known about. Also they may have a parish plan and/or village design statement.
It is also usually worth trawling the shelves of the local library (don't rely on the catalogue) and bookshops for local interest books - especially of old photographs.
Child, Mark, Discovering
Church Architecture (Shire).
T.Cocke, D.Findlay, R.Halsey, and E Williamson, Recording a Church: An Illustrated Glossary, (Council for British Archaeology 1996) Practical Handbook in Archaeology no.7.
Cunnington, Pamela, How Old is that Church (Blandford 1990)
Alcock, N,W., Documenting the History of Houses (British Records Association 2003) Archives and the User no. 10
Barratt, Nick, Tracing the History of Your House (Public Record Office 2001).
Images of England
Listed Buildings On-line