Notes on the Cambridgeshire churches.
London, “printed by S. & R.Bentley, Dorset Street ; sold by Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, and T.Stevenson, Cambridge” 1827.
8vo. (2) + 78pp, engraved frontispiece, 3 engraved plates, folding engraved map of Cambridgeshire. Original printed boards (with image of porch of Downham Church reproduced on upper cover). A good copy, untrimmed and unopened.
A scarce book, printed on good quality paper and evidently issued in a small edition at the author’s expense, which offers the first comprehensive listing for any English county of the architectural features of each of its parish churches, and which is as such a significant milestone in the literature of the period. No author’s name is mentioned, which led John Britton to conclude, erroneously, that the book had been written by William Whewell, but the author was in fact George Richard Boissier (1790-1858). Boissier was to become a Church of England clergyman, beneficed in Penshurst, Kent, but his vocation had come to him later than to most, and at the time of the book’s publication he was still an undergraduate at Magdalene College, Cambridge. The book is nonetheless very praiseworthy, both for the information it provides on the architectural character of each church, in which Boissier follows the nomenclature adopted by Rickman, and for the emphasis that Boissier rightly places on the need to eliminate the dampness and structural weakness caused to medieval parish churches by the banks of earth which had been allowed to build up against their outer walls. It may be felt that Boissier has been entirely forgotten by prosperity, but there is an entry for him in ODNB, brought about solely by the existence of this book, and it was Boissier who many years later was to obtain the first significant architectural commission for the architect George Devey, by recommending him to Lord De Lisle, the owner of Penshurst Place. Not in BAL Cat.