Like nurses, masons must know in detail about the lives of the buildings they care for. This intimate knowledge has given Andrew Ziminski unique insights into some of England's oldest and most beautiful structures. But this book is as much about people as mortar and stone. It's a conversation with the past, from which I learnt so much. My book of the year!
Enthralling . . . Along with riveting personal insights into this ancient craft, he immerses us in the past lives of the long-forgotten everyday craftspeople whose legacy is the buildings we so treasure today
The author's eagerness to experience the past physically sets him apart from drier academic historians . . . Ziminski's writing is vividly evocative and craftsmanlife . . . it's a fascinating book and a wise one
There are few reading pleasures that compare with a passionate expert describing their work, and Ziminski stands proudly in this field . . . Remarkable . . . Ziminski weaves together architecture, craft, landscape, archaeology and natural history, all the time keeping a sharp eye on modern everyday life around him
A wonderful behind-the-scenes history, where time works on a different scale and stone is a living, breathing entity . . . by a master craftsman whose expertise connects him to the generations that came before him
Andrew Ziminski is the man who rebuilt the West Country. For 30 years, this skilled stonemason has renovated some of Britain's greatest buildings . . . The author skilfully explains the history of these stones and - this is what makes his book so entertaining - relates them to jobs he has done . . . Ziminski is one of those lucky souls with rural X-ray spectacles. He looks at the countryside and sees a series of historical slides going back over several millennia . . . Ziminski has a wonderful way of describing the look and feel of stone . . . What a magician!
In attempting to reconnect us to this continuous narrative of English history and architecture, Ziminski is undertaking something more profound than the charm of this delightful book first suggests. Delicate as the threads that tie us to the past can seem, thanks to work like Ziminski's, both as mason and as author, we can hope they will remain unbroken
Thoughtful, observant and well-informed, as much at ease with words and emotions as with the stone he works with
The author is a beguiling companion to the very bones of the Wessex landscape . . . I hope he has plenty left from his notebooks for another volume
Most of us won't be jetting off to foreign adventures in the next few weeks, so there has probably never been a better time to discover or rediscover this magical land
[A] surrogate travel book, part memoir, part history, in which Andrew Ziminski describes his career as an itinerant craftsman. Refreshingly, he too recognizes how Eastern skills and styles arrived in Europe
This is a compelling book: part travel journal - paddling along misty streams in the South-West by canoe - part builder's manual - you learn about formwork and lateral thrust - and part hymn to the art of sustaining stone structures over centuries . . . it is rooted in the making of England and is a magical read