HISTORIAN Roger Bingham continues his review of the new Pevsner Guide to Cumbria.

THE ‘new Pevsner’s’ 775 pages comprise the largest-ever survey of Cumbria’s ‘built heritage’.

Plentifully illustrated, its many colour photographs include one encapsulating both the Elizabethan Coniston Hall and Ruskin’s home, Brantwood, across the water.

Unlike Professor Pevsner, the current author, Matthew Hyde, avoids architectural jargon, though I hadn’t previously encountered ‘intercolumniation’, used to describe the gaps between the Norman pillars at Kirkby Lonsdale church.

Occasional quirky descriptions include ‘a stately Doll’s house’ for the new Dalton Hall of 1967-71; a ‘mood of elephantine jollity’ for the ‘range of materials and vernacular techniques’ at Bowness, and ‘titchy’ Lupton church.

‘Wide and spreading, like a hen covering her chicks’ nicely symbolises Holy Trinity Kendal’s role as a ‘mother church’ but, courageously, despite its regular appearances on ‘Wordsworth Country’ calendars, Rydal church is censured as ‘sadly hideous’.

The poet’s other church, at Grasmere, however, is extolled for its attractive ‘out of sync’ roof timbers supported on ‘Roman aqueduct arches’.

Deservedly praised, too, are Cartmel Priory’s ‘unique’ diagonal tower, Kendal’s ‘bright and light’ RC church, and Field Broughton church’s ‘shingled spire, entirely alien but exactly what the broad vale required.'

Lakeland’s highest steeple at St Mary’s, Ambleside, which ‘guards the little town and takes on the beetling fells’, was designed in 1850 by the renowned George Gilbert Scott.

A plethora of local architects is headed by the 19th century ‘Websters of Kendal’ who, among scores of other churches, designed both St George’s and St Thomas’, at Kendal, and Austin and Paley, from whose ‘continuing fertility of invention’ sprang the palatial ‘State Wing’ of Holker Hall of 1873 and Natland church of 1910.

Amazingly, the guide ranges from stone age ‘man-made’ caves at Langdale, though Roman forts, the pretend ‘toy fort’ of Wray Castle, to mighty Levens Hall – ‘Cumbria’s greatest Elizabethan house’.

Foremost among many Georgian gems are the 1774 ‘round house’ on Belle Isle and ‘gracious’ Dallam Tower, of 1720.