When John Newman wrote his two magnificent volumes on the buildings of Kent over thirty years ago, his great founding editor, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, described them as ‘the best of the whole series’. They were indeed exceptional volumes in the Buildings of England series, and it is very clear how well John knew Kent’s architectural monuments. One group of buildings, those of West Malling Abbey, could not, however, be examined in detail because they were within the enclosure of the Anglican Benedictine community. Part of his description of these buildings was, therefore, based on ‘inadequate photographs and pre-enclosure descriptions’ and are set in brackets in his text.
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