The 'Buildings of England' guides by Nikolaus Pevsner are regarded as one of the ‘go to’ guides for buildings of architectural importance and can be both helpful and interesting. However they are secondary sources compiled with various degrees of local knowledge, and as such should be regarded with caution.
One example is seen in the 'Lancashire North’ edition. Although no Springhill properties are listed in the guide, St Anne’s church, Edgeside, is included and was endowed by a Springhill resident, Captain Charles Patrick, being consecrated in 1885. Pevsner’s entry for St Anne’s reads:
'ST ANNE Ashworth Lane, Edgeside. By Thomas Bell of Burnely and Nelson, 1885. Low, aisleless and with a canted apse and plate-traceried windows. Base of a SW tower. W front with a big wheel window over a portal which embraces a pair of doors, like a Nonconformist church. Was this a deliberate ploy in an area of Methodist and Baptist supremacy. STAINED GLASS. Nave N. A good window by Shrigley and Hunt c 1895. The Adoration of the Magi and sheep. The church is groped with the substantial, slightly Gothic VICARAGE S. of 1910 and the long, low bare SCHOOL W. 1873 by Harry Thorndyke Perceval.'
The statement that the window was installed 'about 1895’ is true only in a very general sense. The window commemorates Charles Patrick and his wife, Mary Ann nee Ashworth. Charles Patrick died in 1895 and his date of death is included in the window.
A little probing reveals more however. Patrick’s will states that a stained glass window be installed in the church in memory of him and his wife as 'soon as conveniently maybe' after Rev Cross Jones ceasing to be vicar there. This suggests that relations between Patrick and Rev Cross Jones may not have been entirely cordial, or perhaps Cross Jones objected to stained glass in principle. This is an avenue for further study, although I’m not sure what documentation survives from St Annes’ from this period. The window was actually installed in 1903.
As members begin to explore our shared endeavour for 2018 of ‘the built environment’ this acts as a timely reminder that not everything written is accurate, and the more remote the source the more true this is. This applies, of course, to all avenues of our research!
Does anyone have any other examples of guides getting it wrong?