New titles, Autumn 2020
John Taylor, Travels and Travelling, 1616-1653, edited by John Chandler
John Taylor (1578-1653), known in his lifetime and ever since as the ‘Water-Poet’, wrote some two hundred pamphlets on every conceivable subject of interest to his contemporaries. A native of Gloucester who became a London waterman, he employed his ebullient wit and facility with words to make a reputation, if not a fortune, from his writing in prose and verse. His descriptions of the fourteen journeys he made between 1616 and 1653 around Britain (and twice to the continent), are not only entertaining to read, but an important source for anyone interested in travel, places and society before, during and just after the Civil Wars. This expanded edition of a work first published in 1999 includes the two foreign adventures and a group of pamphlets describing carriers, coaches, inns and taverns, with brief introductions to each work, annotations and an index of places and people.
October 2020, 512pp, paperback, £18.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-91-4.
Hidden Lives: the Nuns of Shaftesbury Abbey, by William Smith
Founded by King Alfred the Great in or around 888, the Benedictine Abbey of St Mary and St Edward at Shaftesbury was the wealthiest and most important nunnery of its order in England until its suppression by Henry VIII in 1539. Continuing the elitist traditions of its pre-Conquest origins, it remained largely the spiritual preserve of what today would be designated the upper and middle classes of society throughout the Middle Ages. Its abbesses, increasingly drawn from families of the local gentry by the late fourteenth century, enjoyed the same status as feudal barons with similar privileges and responsibilities, overseeing the foundation's large complement of nuns and its extensive estates mainly in Dorset and Wiltshire. This work gives a history of the abbey and its nuns from Anglo-Saxon times, with accounts of the abbesses and their manner of appointment in accordance with royal patronage and prerogative. An appendix contains a chronological list of known nuns, in particular the abbesses, with biographical information where available, from the convent's origins in the late ninth century until its closure and destruction around six hundred and fifty years later. This study has for its focus the lives and identities of the nuns themselves, rather than the abbey as a prominent and privileged royal institution.
October 2020, 160pp, casebound, £17.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-92-1.
A West Country Homecoming, by John Payne
The author, a native of Bath (Somerset) and a lecturer, historian and biographer, explores the possibilities of writing history backwards from the present into the past. Like the author's own family, this book is firmly rooted in North Somerset, Bath and West Wiltshire. Part memoir, part family history, part social history, this book explores not just what we know but also the many silences and omissions which dot our own personal histories and those of our families and communities. Stories, some sad, some happy, some funny, come thick and fast throughout the pages and are illustrated with over one hundred photographs from family albums and a wide variety of other sources. Ten chapters observe the history of his extended family from various perspectives, including work, education, health, housing and religion.
October 2020, 220pp, colour ill, paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-93-8.
Sir George Dowty, In His Own Words
Sir George Dowty (1901-1975) was a noted inventor and businessman, who pioneered many components used in the aviation industry before, during, and after the Second World War, and founded a string of companies which bore his name. He was a major employer in the Cheltenham and Tewkesbury area of Gloucestershire (as his successor companies still are), a prominent and respected figure in the world of engineering, and a generous supporter of causes in Gloucestershire and elsewhere. His typescript autobiography, dictated shortly before his death, was discovered recently by his son, and is now published for the first time. It offers a unique insight into the drive and enthusiasm of an exceptional man, and of the fledgling aircraft industry of which he played a major part.
December 2020, 158pp, ill. paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-94-5; also jacketed casebound, £16.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-95-2
Another Picture . . . Another Story . . . the continuing trawl through a press photographer’s archive, by Richard Wintle
The second instalment, of a projected three, cherry-picked from the millions of images the author has amassed as the owner of Swindon’s Calyx Picture Agency. Like its predecessor published earlier in 2020, this is a wide-ranging selection of several hundred pictures, documenting exciting events, commemorations, celebrity visits and anything newsworthy in the Swindon area over more than three decades.
November 2020, 132pp, colour illustrated, square format paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-96-9
Ron Swore, by Norman Beale
This book blends biography with military and social history. But it is also a tribute, driven by gratitude. If the story had ended differently the author would never have existed. After Dr Norman Beale retired, he took up family history. For some years he managed to backtrack only one generation – there was so much to discover about his late father, Ron.
Ron Swore begins with a teenager taking an oath to serve ‘king and country’ in the British Army. It ends a decade later, in 1945; a young man having lost his youth to battle trauma, cruelty and slavery. Such was ‘Ron’s war’. His unit, the 2nd ‘Glosters’, had been part of the forgotten Dunkirk rearguard, sacrificed to allow more than 300,000 other Allied soldiers to be evacuated from France and to fight another day.
Ron survived five years as a prisoner of war, calling on stoicism and survival instinct and saved from starvation by the International Red Cross. When he escaped – from a death march – he and a comrade were secreted and supported by a Czech family who showed incredible courage and humanity.
Eventually, back in England, he did as so many of his generation – he promptly closed this chapter of his life. There would be no reminiscences, no reunions and, if possible, no recollections. It was all too painful. Putting the lid down and sitting on it was the only therapy for what we now call ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’. This made the story a difficult salvage exercise - for the author, but hopefully not for the reader.
December 2020, 146pp, illustrated paperback, £8.95, ISBN 978-1-906978-97-6
Whaddon and the Longs: a West Wiltshire History, by Pamela M. Slocombe
The book begins with the early origins of this remote hamlet near Trowbridge which was affected by the Black Death. It describes its heyday under a branch of the Long family, prominent clothiers whose seat was Whaddon House and how they emerged onto the national scene in the turbulent years of the mid-17th century. Whaddon was gradually reduced to a farming community in the 18th and 19th centuries and the histories of the families who lived there and in the wider estate at Paxcroft, Hilperton and Melksham are explored. This wide-ranging village history also includes domestic details of everyday life and the running of an estate and the compelling early 17th century love story of a widow and widower, told through surviving letters. December 2020, 620pp, illustrated (including colour) paperback, £25.00, ISBN 978-1-906978-98-3