The Old Rectory: The Story of the English Parsonage

by and Clive Aslet (foreword)

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Book Details

Format: Hardback (386 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-910519-51-6

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“A humdinging page-turner of a book”
The Spectator

“This book will give great pleasure”
Country Life

Traditional English rectories and vicarages have been neglected by the Church in the post-war years, but have become highly desirable to property buyers, and are now cherished by their new private owners. They combine many coveted qualities: their fine architecture, their air of civilisation, their charm and character, the traditional values and the essential “Englishness” they evoke, their large gardens and often splendidly rural locations.

This book is about these fine houses, their place in English history and the history of the Church, their architecture, their architects, their contribution to our culture, and their sometimes eccentric occupants—both clerical and secular.

This new edition has been significantly revised, and includes additional material and 68 plates (most of which are in full colour).

“Old” is not a word that the twenty-first century much cares for. People shrink from it, going to painful lengths to preserve the appearance of youth and acting as though they had never grown up. But bracket “Old” with “Rectory” and the response is entirely different. Together, the words conjure up a vision of the most desirable of house types for affluent living . . .
Clive Aslet, Editor-at-Large of Country Life (from the foreword)

Unlike so many architectural surveys, Pevsner included, it transcends the merely material to leaven the lump with tasty historical and personal details of the people involved in the construction and habitation. … Jennings is the go-to book for detail and across the board referencing of church history, architecture (and architects) – all linked to the ‘story’ of the English parish and its clergy. David Shacklock, The Georgian

Here is a book that can take pride of place, resting on the coffee table in the drawing room or nestling on the dresser in the guest bedroom, of those many English parsonages now in private hands and hosting a prized lifestyle. However, it would be a mistake to see The Old Rectory as little more than a nostalgic decoration for the coffee table or the guest room dresser. Between these elegant covers Jennings offers a shrewd analysis of the connection between parsonages and ecclesiology and a thoughtful questioning of the unarticulated and untested assumptions underpinning ‘the great twentieth-century sell-off’. Leslie Francis, Rural Theology

About the Author

Anthony Jennings is Director of Save Our Parsonages, and on the council of the English Clergy Association and the committee of the Patrons Group. He is a member of the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee, on the committee of Bourne Civic Society, and a trustee of Bourne Preservation Trust.

Reviews of the First Edition

#1 bestseller in the Church Times new titles list 20th November 2009

“Charles Moore reviews ‘The Old Rectory’ by Anthony Jennings and relishes this unique and remarkable piece of our national patrimony.
The Daily Telegraph

“A humdinging page-turner of a book.”
The Spectator.

“A personal romp through the parsonages that Jennings particularly admires and which give a beguiling synopsis of the developments of this curiously English dwelling.
The Rectory Society Newsletter, March 2010

“Jennings has produced an excellently presented and beautifully illustrated story of the history of the English parsonage.
Historic House, September 2010 

“Propelled by a real passion for parsonages.”
Ecclesiology Today

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