(London): (Constable and Company), (1953). Octavo, original purple cloth, spine lettered in silver, top edge stained pink, original unclipped color pictorial dust jacket. Illustrated with color pictorial title page and dozens of line drawings and black-and-white photographs. Errata slip tipped in at “Author’s Note,” county guide to follies and grottoes and index at rear. Cloth spine slightly faded.
First edition of this illustrated guide to the eccentric architectural fantasies that dotted English estates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, almost all designed by amateurs and inspired by Gothic and Romantic themes. A thoughtful chronicler of English folk and vernacular art, artist Barbara Jones brings these largely forgotten ornamental ruins to life: “When a house was put up for sale in the eighteenth century, a grotto was a good selling feature, as a swimming pool is today, and in 1755 one advertisement adds to its catalog of amenities ‘Merlin’s Cave, in shellwork, composed of over a thousand beautiful shells with a cascade of looking glass playing in the middle.’” Jones's illustrations capture the exuberance and oddity of her subject, and her sense of loss as follies and grottoes disappear from the modern landscape: “[they] are personal in a way that great architecture never is.” A bright, near-fine copy.