[my photo, May 2014]
I imagine some people and publishers think they're naff, but I like the Then and Now books, the ones that show you how street scenes, landmarks, housing and townscapes once looked and how they look now. If you know a place, it's fascinating to see what was there when you were young or long before you were born, and to see what has survived, what's been demolished and what has appeared since. They are among the first books I look at when I'm visiting somewhere new (local libraries have them), and they are always on the bookshelf in a Landmark Trust so I end up knowing far more than I need to about how a canal or village pub or town square or cooling tower or row of shops has altered.
[View of Chichester Cathedral from the Deanery (1975) John Piper]
Now and then, the then looks almost exactly as it does now. I'd been wondering where John Piper stood or sat to paint this wonderful view of Chichester Cathedral (currently on display at Pallant House and now I've found the spot which links the beautiful 1725 Deanery to the cathedral and see it's hardly changed in nearly forty years, although I imagine that in fact it's been a lot longer since any great alterations have been made. The only differences are double yellow lines (really, are they necessary?) and a lamp. Otherwise it's all still as grand and elegant - and what a view from home to workplace. It's more than can be said of many locations which, as the Then and Now books show, haven't emerged as unscathed.