England's Thousand Best Houses, By Simon Jenkins

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The Independent Culture

From the Victorian villa in Bedford on page 3 to the Jacobean house in Wakefield on page 1020, this magnificent companion bears out on every erudite page the author's contention that the domestic architecture of England is "a treasure trove, a glory of humanity".

From cottages to colleges, palaces to terraces, Jenkins's county-by-county gazetteer gives each entry a star rating and a stylish essay.

He mixes sound history and criticism with the sort of personal flourish – for instance, his swipes at the "dead hand" of modern custodianship - that brings the great Nikolaus Pevsner irresistibly to mind.

Penguin has also re-issued Jenkins's equally essential England's Thousand Best Churches. So, for £26, trippers, strollers and students have a pair of expert friends who will last for life.