Context 164 - May 2020

54 C O N T E X T 1 6 4 : M A Y 2 0 2 0 principally for his stained glass, Kempe was also responsible for other types of church decoration: wall paintings, furnishings and vestments. Adrian Barlow’s meticulous research reveals the extent and quality of his work. The book combines biography with an assessment of his art and legacy, and a gazetteer lists his corpus. In the book Barlow challenges the criticism Kempe’s work received in the mid-20th century which was reflected in Pevsner’s lukewarm response to his stained glass in some of the early Buildings of England volumes, and he rightfully restores Kempe’s reputation to where it belongs. Building Construction in Britain from 600AD to 1890 Geoffrey R Sharpe, 2018, 364 pages, 223 black and white and colour illustrations, softback, ISBN 978 1 527227 56 9, £18 As the author of several books on traditional building construction, including churches and rural building types, Geoffrey R Sharpe provides an overview of craft traditions and their development over 1,300 years in this new handbook. A chartered surveyor and engineer, he has wide experience of caring for historic buildings, and puts his knowledge to good effect. The book includes chapters on building methods; building in stone; timber construction; brick and unbaked earth; and heating, plumbing and other services. Specialist tools and equipment are described in detail, while the often arcane language used for different types of mallets, chisels, timber joints, and so on is helpfully explained. His accounts of medieval building technology and craftsmanship in particular are clear and concise, and both text and images (the latter mostly drawings by the author), are useful reference sources. One niggle that this reader had is the separation of text and images into separate blocks, which means constant thumbing back and forth through the pages to fully understand the author’s points. Herbert Rowse Iain Jackson, Simon Pepper and Peter Richmond, Historic England, 2019, 149 pages, black and white and colour illustrations, softback, ISBN 978 1 848025 493, £30 The ability to think and act big has been a characteristic of Liverpool since the early 1700s, when it built the world’s first enclosed commercial wet dock. By the end of the 19th century it had become one of the wonders of Britain, with an architectural identity that surpassed all other provincial cities. The architect who did most to maintain that tradition in the 20th century was Herbert Rowse, whose monumental projects include India Buildings, Martin’s Bank, the Mersey Tunnel and the Philharmonic Hall, all built between 1923 and 1939. A star pupil of Charles Reilly at the Liverpool School of Architecture, Rowse stamped his mark on the city and, in spite of his success, never abandoned it for the metropolis, as most other architects of that period did. This enlightening volume in the Twentieth Century Architects series assesses the work of an architect who sought not to create a new architecture from scratch, but one that was inspired by historical precedent.Yet he also embraced aspects of modernism with masterly effect, such as with the massive ventilation towers for the Mersey Tunnel which enliven the city’s famous skyline.

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