An ambitious history of Britain told through the stories of twenty-five notable structures, from the Iron Age fortification of Maiden Castle in Dorset to the Gherkin.
Building Britannia is a chronicle of social, political and economic change seen through the prism of the country's built environment, but also a sequence of closely observed studies of a series of intrinsically remarkable structures: some of them beautiful or otherwise imposing; some of them more coldly functional; all of them with richly fascinating stories to tell.
Steven Parissien tells both a national story, tracing how a growing sense of British nationhood was expressed through the country's architecture, and also examines how these structures were used by later generations to signpost, mythologise or remake British history.
Rubbing shoulders with some 'expected' building choices – such as the Roman baths at Aquae Sulis, Lincoln's cathedral and Stourhead House in Wiltshire – are some striking inclusions that promise to open doors into what will be, for many readers, less familiar areas of social history: these include Crossness Pumping Station in southeast London (a Victorian 'Temple to effluence') and the art nouveau Electric cinema in Birmingham, the country's oldest working cinema. Thus as well as identifying the relevance of certain iconic structures to the unfolding of the national story, Building Britannia finds fascination and meaning in the everyday and the disregarded.
'The most stunning art books of the year' Sir Roy Strong, Sunday Express.
'An outstanding work of reference and beauty' Interiors Magazine.
'There's plenty here to fuel the petrolhead and the social historian for many miles' Literary Review.
'A read to fascinate anyone interested in the history of the industry' Daily Express.
'A beautiful, highly original book' Apollo Magazine