Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

How to Read a Church

[An image showing How to Read a Church]Anybody who finds churches very interesting buildings, and would like to be able to interpret some of their many symbols and artistic and historical aspects, could do far worse than buy “How to Read a Church”.

This superbly written and beautifully illustrated book is written by Richard Taylor. The Spectator called it “a gem of a book”, and I wouldn’t argue with that.

To quote from its own dust cover:

“Who are the figures in the stained glass? What does that picture of an animal mean? Why is the building laid out this way? Is that detail significant?

Churches and cathedrals are packed with images and symbols, but few people today know how to read them. ‘How to Read a Church’ explains

The main features of churches and what they represent

How to interpret images in church art

How to identify people, scenes, details and their significance

The symbolism of individual animals, plants, colours, numbers and letters

What this all means and why

This book is an essential guide to these incredible buildings and the treasures they contain.”

The illustrations are magnificent. Among them are

Chichester Cathedral; Southwell Minster; a gargoyle at Chichester Cathedral; the font at St. Mary Magdalene, Newark; the vaulted ceiling of Norwich Cathedral; the cross on the wall at St. Peter-ad-Murum, Bradwell-juxta-Mare, Essex; the altar frontal at Liverpool Catholic Cathedral; the reredos at St. Edmund, Southwold, Suffolk; a stained glass window at Ely Cathedral.

Jacob’s Ladder on the West Front of Bath Abbey; a stained glass window at St. Botolph, Colchester; a stained glass window at St. Peter and St. Paul, Cromer; choir stall ends at Winchester Cathedral; the Beauchamp tomb at St. Mary, Warwick; a capital at Lichfield Cathedral; a stained glass window at Our Lady of Walsingham; a seat back at St. Mary’s Priory Church, Lancaster.

“How to Read a Church” is available at all good bookshops.