RETRO: Our historic buildings’ sketchy past

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A Northamptonshire artist has published two collections of line drawings of some of the county’s best known landmarks and churches.

Derek Blunt has been sketching for a number of years and decided to collect his drawings in a bid to help two charities.

Holy Trinity Church in Rothwell

Holy Trinity Church in Rothwell

Landmarks is a collection of original pen and ink drawings of the parish churches in every village in the county and the major parish churches in the towns of Northamptonshire.

The book, which costs £15.99, includes a £2 donation to the Churches Conservation Trust in Northamptonshire.

His other book, Spires and Squires, takes readers on a journey of discovery through all of the county’s towns and villages – including a number of lost or abandoned settlements – and includes some historic background alongside the drawings.

The book costs £25 and includes a £3 donation to the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

Mr Blunt said the books have so far raised a combined £1,800 for the two charities.

He added: “My first book Landmarks was originally published in 2011 with the pen and ink drawings alongside personal observations of these historic and beautiful buildings.

“The Rt Rev Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, commended the book when I sent him a copy after it was published.”

Mr Blunt said his follow-up collection of drawings was partly inspired by what he felt was Northamptonshire’s “unwillingness” to make itself known to the wider public.

He added: “In many respects Northamptonshire is one of England’s hidden counties.

“Although being landlocked, with no mountains and few areas of outstanding natural beauty, there are many attractive villages and superb buildings among which are numerous beautiful parish churches and stately homes.

“Alongside most villages and towns is an original pen and ink drawing of something interesting which caught my eye – or imagination.”

Between them the two books contain more than 500 pages of drawings.

Mr Blunt is originally from Northampton and says he has traced his family back to the 1500s – when they were still living in the county.

He said: “When I left Northampton Grammar School for Boys I wanted to become an architect.

“However in those austerity years after the war I simply could not afford the training costs involved.

“After many years working for the county council mainly in providing care and services for elderly and disabled people – with a few years spent as the first Bursar of Moulton Agricultural Institute, I took a leap of faith and set up my own business (Carefree Holidays) to enable older and disabled people enjoy just that.

“Following 20 happy and successful years I decided to retire to spend more time doing the things I have always enjoyed but never had enough time for – travelling, gardening, walking, watching football, painting and sketching, visiting stately homes and churches.

“It has been a real joy to draw all of the village churches and the main churches in the towns in Northamptonshire and to compile my book which I hope readers will find interesting.”

The books are available from Wellingborough Museum and Harrowden Bookshop in Finedon.

In addition, they can be bought online at www.derekfblunt.com or email derekfblunt@sky.com for free delivery.

Mr Blunt said he has also visited interested groups around the county to give talks about the books – and he donates fees received to charity.