In the 1940s Nikolaus Pevsner began to publish his books on British Architecture many joked that it took a foreigner to appreciate the architectural treasures that country possessed.
The original Derbyshire guide was first published in 1953 and was last updated in 1971, so it was ready for an update when Clare Hartwell was given the task in 2012. Now four years later the new Pevsner Derbyshire Guide has been published and Clare admits that the project was no mean feat.
Clare said that “Pevsner was obviously a giant in his field and a very hard act to follow”, retracing Pevsner’s footsteps Clare visited all of the buildings that were still standing from those originally listed to record the changes as well as shedding new light upon the structures to add and update the details.
During the work Clare faced many difficult decisions with so many interesting historic structures in Derbyshire making it hard to know which ones to leave out. Clare “tried to stay faithful to Pevsner’s original aim; to include everything of interest but keep the guide compact enough to fit in a coat pocket”.
Many of the obvious buildings such as stately homes, great churches and impressive civic buildings have been included, but also some minor ones. The criteria for listing included the building’s architectural and historical merit, cultural significance and also in some cases the human interest with some of the buildings having a story to tell.
One of Clare’s favourite additions is the church at Temple Normanton which has been rebuilt many time due to mining subsidence and is now, “a fibreglass igloo full of intricate Victorian monuments”.
There are entries for all of the great houses in the Devonshire dynasty including Hardwick Hall, Chatsworth House and Bolsover Castle. Of course the guide incorporates other great Derbyshire landmarks like the Crich Stand, but there is also space given to more unusual entries such as the house built out volcanic rock at Via Gellia.
Clare found Derbyshire to be “the most beautiful county she has worked in so far”, Pevsner also found the county to be inspiring and being moved by the Peak District he dedicated his whole guide series to “The spirit of Monks Dale”.
The south of Derbyshire also has its own historical gems to offer, Clare was particularly taken with Repton saying it is “one of the most extraordinary places in the country”, “it’s church has a crypt which dates back to the 8th and 9th century and when you enter it you feel that you are being taken back to that era, it’s one of the most atmospheric space in the country”.
The guide is on sale now for and costs £28 from amazon here