Book review – Buckfast Abbey: History, Art and Architecture


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Author(s): Andrew. Susan; Year published: 2019; Origin: Member-contributed; Pages: 
Topic(s): abbey, architecture, and monastery; Location(s): Buckfast

Peter Beacham (editor), Buckfast Abbey: History, Art and Architecture (Merrell, London. New York, 2017), 272 pages, 275 colour and b&w illustrations. Hardback with jacket. ISBN 978 1 8589 4650 4. £60.00 UK.

This beautiful and important book was commissioned by the monastic community at Buckfast Abbey to celebrate the millennium of the abbey’s foundation in 1018. As the only English medieval monastery to be rebuilt and used again for its original purpose, Buckfast is exceptional, and documenting its history, art and architecture called for an exceptional approach.

Accordingly, eleven distinguished authors, several of whom have had a decades-long association with the abbey, were invited to contribute to a volume which may be considered a treasure trove in its own right. Carefully edited by Peter Beacham to achieve a fine balance of ancient and modern, each chapter is scholarly, yet accessible. The book is outstanding too in the quality of its photographs, drawings, maps and plans. In marking the millennium of the monastic foundation at Buckfast through this magisterial volume, its authors, illustrators, and its editor, have served the abbey well.

A full review of the book will be published in Transactions, Vol. 151, December 2019.

Sue Andrew
(first published in DA News, Spring 2019)