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New and Recent Books

New Titles, Summer 2021

The Witches of Selwood: Witchcraft Belief and Accusation in Seventeenth-Century Somerset, by Andrew Pickering 

The ancient forest of Selwood straddles the borders of Somerset and Wiltshire and terminates in the south where these counties meet Dorset. This book explores the connections between important theological texts written in the region, notably Richard Bernard's Guide to the Grand-Jury Men (1627) and Joseph Glanvill's Saducismus Triumphatus (1681), influential local families, and the extraordinary witchcraft accounts in the area. In particular it focuses on a little known case in the village of Beckington in 1689 and shows how this was not a late, isolated episode but an integral part of the wider Selwood Forest witchcraft story. By presenting a micro-history of a specific area, which was rife in witchcraft practices in the seventeenth century, the author makes a valuable contribution to early modern social history. Revised edition of a work first published in 2017.

April 2021, xxii+226pp, illustrated jacketed hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-05-5

Sweet Medicine, by Sue Boddington

Spring 1860 in a lonely corner of Montana, four people are seeking fulfilment in their lives and some form of healing for troubled minds. Bear Claw, the Cheyenne warrior, whose mother was the daughter of a Jewish pedlar, is searching for a way to reconcile his life as a Cheyenne with his promise to his mother to honour the traditions of her people. Ben Barnett, the youngest son of a Wiltshire squire has emigrated with his young wife Frances in the hope of finding a cure for his depression and restless spirit in the challenge of a pioneering life. Frances however, longs for a more secure, civilised life with her relatives in Boston. Lothar Klein dreams of becoming a rich man and being accepted in the upper ranks of European society and has travelled from Germany believing he will find gold in America. When the lives of these four people intersect a chain of events is set in motion that reaches a dramatic conclusion.

            The story is set against the background of the dangers and hardships of living in an untamed landscape and the often fraught relationship between the white settlers and the native population, but also how an individual friendship can transcend differences in race and culture. The life and traditions of the Cheyenne are portrayed in detail at a time when the Plains tribes still had the freedom to live in their own way before they were swept aside by the irresistible force of the believers in Manifest Destiny.

May 2021, 278pp, paperback, £8.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-08-6

The Farming Diaries of Thomas Pinniger, 1813-1847, edited by Alan Wadsworth

From 1813 until his death in 1847, Thomas Pinniger kept a detailed daily account of the sheep and corn husbandry he practised first at Little Bedwyn Farm to 1825, and then as the owner of Beckhampton Farm in Avebury parish from 1829. These periods were separated by a stay on Sambourne Farm in Chippenham, when he was more an observer than an active farmer. These 'Farming Memorandums', as Pinniger described them, provide a fascinating and detailed record of the challenges that he faced throughout his long career. Farming practices and developments, prices of corn and livestock, and the weather were all recorded in detail. Pinniger also noted the births, marriages and deaths of relatives, friends and acquaintances, revealing the social milieu in which he lived. Dates of funerals and of funeral services were also often provided, the latter rarely recorded in this period. He also provided a first hand account of the unrest of the Swing Riots of 1830, which he viewed as a serious threat.  The years 1823 to 1838 have been transcribed, but the whole span is covered in the introduction.  In keeping such meticulous daily records over so long a period, Thomas Pinniger stands as the principal representative of the class of yeoman farmers, from early to mid 19th-century Wiltshire.

June 2021, clxviii+416pp, illustrated hardback, £20.00, ISBN 978-0-901333-51-3. Published by Hobnob Press for the Wiltshire Record Society (volume 74)

A Surfeit of Magnificence: the Trials and Tribulations of Sir Thomas Champneys of Orchardleigh, by Mick Davis

Champneys was born in Frome in 1769 the last in a line of aristocrats who claimed origins back to William of Normandy. A series of bad judgements resulted in Thomas being born into a third generation of bankruptcy and despite marrying a very rich widow he was never able to extricate himself from this. He became involved in a serious legal disputes, was imprisoned for debt, undertook extravagant building projects and was rumoured to have engaged in homosexual relations which involved a court case for slander. In 1832 he stood in the local election which resulted in three days of rioting and the local militia firing on the crowd. He lost despite being popular with the working people who were not enfranchised. 

His debts became so large that his mansion, at Orchardleigh was raided by bailiffs on many occasions and the contents sent off to auction until eventually the estate was purchased by a relative and he was allowed to stay there with his wife until his death in 1839.

July 2021, viii+178pp, colour illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-06-2

Colesbourne: a Gloucestershire Village History, by Henry Elwes

The Cotswold village of Colesbourne straddles the picturesque valley of the River Churn, as it descends from Seven Springs to Cirencester. Since the 1780s, the historic Colesbourne Estate has been in the ownership of the Elwes family. It was Henry John Elwes who in the 1870s began Colesbourne's now world-famous snowdrop collection. In this new account, Sir Henry Elwes, who served from 1992 to 2010 as Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, draws on unique estate and family archives to paint a vivid picture of a community that saw many changes in the 20th century, yet still thrives today. A fascinating blend of local and personal histories, the book is profusely illustrated, many of the images being published here for the first time.

July 2021, vi+234pp, colour illustrated paperback, £12.50, ISBN 978-1-914407-03-1

Fifty-Six Poems, by Pete Gage

Pete Gage has had a successful career in the music industry, as lead vocalist in various blues bands, in particular the Jet Harris Band, Dr Feelgood, and latterly with his own 5-piece blues band The Pete Gage Band. In addition to being a Frome-based musician, Pete is both an artist and a poet, meticulously creating hand-painted mandalas based on Tibetan designs, but with his own westernized style. He studied graphic design in the 1960s at St Martin's Art College, London, and incorporated this training into the creation of his pictures. Reproductions of much of his work accompany these poems. Throughout his life since his late-teens Pete has written poems and free-flowing prose. The 56 poems included here present a cross-section of his verse, often rhythmic, but equally often free. Some of his poems can be quite simple, whilst others can be very deep, such is the expanse of Pete's creative expression.

July 2021, 120pp, colour illustrated paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-12-3

Bruton in Selwood, by Bruton Museum

This book, fully colour illustrated, tells the fascinating story of Bruton, a small town in Somerset, and its environs from the earliest times to the present day. An important ecclesiastical centre since the seventh century, notable individuals in Bruton's history include Sir John Fitzjames, standard bearer serving three monarchs and a co-founder of Bruton's free grammar school, Stephan Batman, an eminent Tudor author and cleric, Sir Hugh Sexey, the town's great benefactor, and Gabriel Felling and Ernst Blensdorf, two of its most admired artist-craftsmen. R. D. Blackmore, author of Lorna Doone was schooled in Bruton and, for most of 1959, it was home to the great American novelist, John Steinbeck. The lives of ordinary folk raising families, working on the land and in the town's mills, are revealed in a host of parochial records and in the fabric of the buildings in which they lived and worked, prayed and played.

July 2021, xii+112pp, colour illustrated jacketed hardback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-11-6

New Titles, Spring 2021

The Archaeology of the Borough of Swindon, by Bernard Phillips

The Borough of Swindon embraces not only one of the largest towns in central southern England; it includes also large tracts of chalk downland and much of the upper Thames valley. The rapid pace of development across this area has resulted in a wealth of important archaeological discoveries, from earliest prehistory to the recent past. Bernard Phillips, author of this profusely illustrated survey, has played a leading part in excavating and understanding Swindon’s archaeology over more than fifty years, and so is able to bring to his subject a unique authority, making this the indispensable handbook to the evolution of a region now home to almost a quarter of a million people.

March 2021, 225pp, colour illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-74-7

The Jurassic Coast, A Poet’s Journey, by Amanda K Hampson, illustrated by Sheila Haley

The author’s second book of poetry and, as the title suggests, is a voyage in verse around the Dorset and south Devon coast. Extending from Exmouth to Poole, in 2001 this became England’s first natural World Heritage Site, to be protected, conserved and passed intact to future generations. Its breathtaking beauty and wildness have been an inspiring source of riches for the varied poetry in this volume, accompanied by Sheila Haley’s colourful and vibrant illustrations.

March 2021, 98pp, full colour illustrations, £9.95 (paperback), £14.95 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-914407-00-0 (paperback), 978-1-914407-01-7 (hardback)

Johannes Kip, the Gloucestershire Engravings, edited by Anthea Jones

Three hundred years ago, in 1721, the ‘Dutch engraver’ Johannes Kip died suddenly after more than thirty years spent in England as a renowned printmaker. Gloucestershire owes him a special commemoration in 2021 as the draughtsman and also engraver of more than 60 prints, executed between 1707 and 1710, of the houses, gardens and landscape settings of gentry houses and mansions. The short commentary which accompanies a large-sized reproduction of each print in this book has pointers to the details and to the history of the house and the family. There are examples of old and relatively new houses, large houses and relatively modest ones, elaborate gardens and extensive estates, splendid views reaching to the shipping on the rivers bounding the county on the west, or more limited ones of local hills. Two engravings of Gloucester are presented first (one of the cathedral was published before Atkyns’ book in 1712), and then the sequence of parishes starts with Wick Court, appropriately the least altered of all the houses portrayed.

March 2021, 174pp, colour illustrated large format hardback, £20.00, ISBN 978-1-906978-99-0. Published in association with Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust

The Ladies of Lydiard, by Frances Bevan

Lydiard House and Park, near Swindon, have been in public ownership since 1943. Today around 700,000 visitors every year jog and cycle or just walk and meander around the 260 acres of beautiful parkland. In a history spanning a thousand years, the Lydiard estate has belonged to just five families. The men were adept at acquiring wealthy brides and spending their fortunes, while their wives were consigned to a private, passive life. Throughout the long history of the Lydiard estate the men have been in charge - or have they? From Margaret Beauchamp, the medieval matriarch who inherited the Lydiard estate as an 11-year-old, to Bessie Howard, the gamekeeper's granddaughter, who staked her claim with a surprise revelation at the funeral of Henry St. John, 5th Viscount Bolingbroke, the Lydiard ladies have been a force to be reckoned with. Now, for the first time the story of the Ladies of Lydiard is told. The book is illustrated with stunning colour portraits, displayed at Lydiard, of many of the women described, alongside illustrations of the house and park.

March 2021, 166pp, colour illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-02-4

Unity and Loyalty: the Story of Chippenham’s Red Cross Hospital, by Ray Alder

In November 1915 the Chippenham Red Cross Convalescent Hospital opened in response to rapidly increasing numbers of wounded men returning from the battlefields of the Great War. This book follows events in Chippenham, a relatively small north Wiltshire town, that led to the opening of the Hospital. It describes in detail the people of the district who gave so many hours to care for the patients and make them feel welcome in the town. Inevitably there is sadness but also joy, the recurring theme is of a 'Happy Home Hospital'. The Hospital changed the lives of both staff and patients and this book follows some of those changes after the Armistice. Profusely illustrated in colour, the book derives from a highly successful exhibition mounted by staff and volunteers of Chippenham Museum and, although concerned principally with the hospital, it chronicles many other apects of the town and its people through a devastating war. Chippenham Studies 5.

April 2021, 304pp, colour illustrated paperback, £19.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-04-8

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