Churches and cathedrals play an essential part in our heritage. As community-centred places of worship and as important tourist attractions, they are visited by millions of people every year. But churches were originally built to be read, and so they are packed with images, symbols and meanings that often need explanation for visitors. How to Read a Church is a lively and fascinating guide to what a visitor to a church is likely to find there and how to interpret the common images and meanings in church art and architecture - from stained glass windows, to sculptures and building layout. It will explain how to identify people, scenes, details and their significance, and will explore the symbolism of different animals, plants, colours, numbers and letters - and what this all means. It will be an essential guide for anyone who has ever visited / is visiting a church or cathedral, and for those who want to know more about these incredible buildings and the art they contain.
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(204mm x 135mm x 27mm)
Rider & Co
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Churches are far more than houses of prayer - they also tell a rich symbolic story in stone and wood. Look around any Christian place of worship and with a little understanding you can interpret the cultural messages of centuries. Even the hideous gargoyles around the towers and eaves have their tales to tell if you know what to look for. In this handy and intriguing book, Richard Taylor sets out a guide that will make any church visit a more enriching experience. At first glance the book may appear overly simplistic - as for instance when Taylor explains who Jesus and the Virgin Mary were, and reveals that fonts are used for baptisms - but once the elementary stuff is got over we venture into the real heart of an engrossing subject. In lucid but entertaining style Taylor describes the development of ecclesiastical architecture, the hidden meanings behind columns, carved figures, sculpted flowers and the use of various colours, and even how graveyards were laid out in symbolic ways. 'Good' Christians were traditionally buried on the south side of a church. Villains, suicides and ne'er-do-wells had to make do with the north. God might have been all-forgiving, but those who did the burying evidently weren't. Taylor touches upon such topics as the way our ancestors visualised God as a physical being and translated those images into works of art. This truly is 'reading' the past in the most remarkable of ways. The illustrations complement the book superbly, giving examples of the points Taylor makes in his text. A few more photographs would have been welcome, but line drawings throughout make their points adequately enough. Taylor has written a superb book that should give a new interest to people of all ages. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Professor Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor was born in 1967. He studied English at Oxford University and Law at London University, and now lives and works in South Yorkshire. He has lectured on Christian symbolism to people of many faiths and those of none. He is the presenter of the acclaimed BBC TV series 'Churches: How to Read Them', inspired by this book.