THE greatest treasury of English Architecture ever compiled’ was the comment by Marcus Binny of The Times on the revised Pevsner guides to ‘The Buildings of England’, of which the Cumbria volume by Matthew Hyde was published by Yale Press in October, priced £35.

The original guides for all the ‘old’ English counties were composed between c1950-75 by a German refugee, Nikolaus Pevsner.

Cumbria was covered in ‘Cumberland and Westmorland’ of 1965, while Furness was included in ‘North Lancashire’ of 1969.

The ‘new Pevsner’ includes all Cumbria except the Sedbergh area, which is in the Yorkshire book.

Though the Professor, in his Morris Minor, did his best, he failed to get everywhere – sometimes he missed features like the 1626 sculpture of Dorothy Bellingham and her dead baby, which is behind a pillar at Heversham church.

In 2008, I helped to fill in the gaps and update the survey by guiding Matthew Hyde around my home area of South Westmorland.

Together we re-appraised the Anglo-Saxon cross and ‘the wise and foolish virgins, suitably ditsy’ stained glass window at Heversham church; ‘Viking’ sculpture at Burton; medieval Beetham and Heversham Halls; water mills and industrial revolution sites like Holme Mills, the still operative Bela comb mill and Arnside viaduct.

Also at Arnside, Matthew shared my delight in the Art Deco cricketer’s gravestone. We agreed that Beetham church tower (before 1066) and Park House Barn at Heversham (c 1400) might be older than was once thought.

Based on my own research, he also noted that St Anthony’s Tower, at Milnthorpe, is a rare monument to the Parliamentary Reform Act of 1832.

‘For us’, Matthew said, ‘every door was opened’. Hence ‘well preserved’ Ashton House at Beetham and ‘quite splendid’ Burton House were inspected.

Pevsner had not been so lucky for ‘access was not permitted’ to Harmony Hall, part of the group of late Georgian houses behind Milnthorpe church.

Pevsner notoriously called Milnthorpe’s 1837 parish church bad. Almost as harsh, the new guide criticises a wall, built in 1982 to divide the nave from a new hall, as ‘nasty’ while the Catholic Church of 1970 is dismissed as a ‘bunker’.

Many more buildings, however, are commended, like the Victorian Eversley House, at Leasgill; Milnthorpe’s two sets of Almshouses and the rustic ‘Cottages Ornees’ at Arnside.

Important 20th century villa architecture is recorded at Tidal Reaches, Heversham, with its ‘slate eyebrows and emphatically sprocketed roofs’ while its neighbour Horncop represents ‘an especially interesting moment in English house architecture’.