Our book of the month for September is the helpful guide, How to Read Churches: A crash course in Christian architecture by Denis McNamara. This book accompanies our architecture-themed range which celebrates the wonderful details that make a magnificent building like the Abbey. 

How to Read Churches



How to Read Churches is the perfect guide for anyone with an interest in architecture or even those who have found themselves spellbound by the wonderful treasures found in church buildings. It is perfectly sized to carry around whilst you are visiting a church or cathedral, as it would fit in a pocket or small bag. The book adopts a visual approach and uses beautifully drawn engravings and clear accessible text to help you identify and appreciate the elements you see before you.  Not only will it help you to name the separate architectural elements, materials and motifs but you will also be taught to understand the messages they convey. The book explains the symbolism and iconography that can be found within the carvings around a church and how they relate to the building’s spiritual purpose.

The book is focussed on Western Christian ecclesiastical buildings such as churches, cathedrals, chapels, abbeys and monasteries. It is divided up into sections which cover everything from building styles and the main areas of the church building down to the finer details such as windows and tracery. It finishes with a helpful glossary and index to refer to whilst reading about, or visiting, one of these buildings. It has helped me to better understand Westminster Abbey’s wonderful Rose Window and the amazing and seemingly complex structure of its many arches. It also has wonderful trivia about the history of these features: for example stained glass windows in medieval times were frequently used to instruct the congregation and tell a story, as so many people were illiterate and were unable to read them for themselves.

If you would like to see more of our architecture range you can view it now by clicking here