Book Review

The Buildings of England: Hampshire: South

by Charles O’Brien et al (2018) £35
Reviewed by Georgina Craufurd

This is the third edition of the original ‘Pevsner’ architectural guide to Hampshire; readers will be familiar, I suspect, with the second edition dating from some forty years ago. This volume however is more a total rebuild than an overhaul, to use a mechanical analogy. The volume is twice the size of the earlier one, and covers only the southern half of Hampshire (from just south of Winchester); so there is a huge amount of new material. Now included are Victorian and later houses (untouched by Pevsner himself), and many detailed Perambulations around such interesting towns as Lymington (for which this reviewer gave modest help) and Lyndhurst, which barely got a mention before now. Given that makers-over of houses in the past seldom neglected to ‘improve’ their gardens and parkland at the same time, this book is essential reading for garden researchers. It is often easier to start by gaining understanding of a building’s history; one can then look for features in the surroundings which might be contemporary with these phases, but which are disguised by later plantings or adaptations. An example of this is Hursley Park, where there was a previous Elizabethan house on the lawn in front of the present mansion. This helps one to identify the two raised walks (now disguised by avenues of trees) on either side of the lawn, a feature that was advocated by Francis Bacon in his 1625 essay Of Gardens. Garden buildings and features are also noted in many cases for the first time.  But the volume is also a delight for church-crawlers and for anyone interested in the built environment, since the current researchers allow more feeling into their descriptions than did the original authors. Inhabitants of Winchester and north Hampshire will be glad to know that their new edition of Winchester & Hampshire North (by Michael Bullen) has already been published.