Swindon ~ New for 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 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
A Swindon Radical: Life between the Wars with George Ewart Hobbs, edited by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter
Welcome to a book that was never intended. After all, when A Swindon Wordsmith was published in 2019, highlighting the life and works of railwayman and parttime writer George Ewart Hobbs, the authors were satisfied that it achieved both of their main aims: showcasing work by someone who had undeservedly been forgotten since his death in 1946, but also opening a fascinating window on Swindon in times gone by. However, the surprise discovery of more works by George made it necessary to produce a second volume, and this book therefore samples some of the articles he wrote and published in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly in the Swindon Advertiser. Like its predecessor, this new book covers a wide range of George's interests, including religion, philosophy, astronomy, spiritualism, engineering and more. And as he came to terms with a changing world at home, and as the world spiralled towards the second declaration of global war in his lifetime, it chronicles the views of an increasingly radical thinker, who was always ahead of his time. Along with a simultaneously published companion book, A Visit to Venus (George's 1927 science fiction tale), A Swindon Radical completes the story of this fascinating wordsmith and free-thinker. Published in association with Swindon Heritage. September 2021, 427pp, illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-21-5.
A Visit to Venus, story by George E Hobbs
This book is a result of the remarkable vision and creativity of the Swindon writer George Ewart Hobbs (1883-1946). Hobbs, whose life and works are also explored in A Swindon Wordsmith (published in 2019) and A Swindon Radical (2021), worked full-time as an engineer with the GWR, for more than half a century, but was still a prolific writer, across a dazzling range of (fiction and nonfiction) subjects. A Visit to Venus was originally serialised in the Swindon Advertiser, and although it is not his only work of science fiction, it is the longest and most ambitious, made all the more remarkable by the fact that it was written in 1927, when the genre was in its infancy. With its believable characters and the philosophical and theological questions it raises, A Visit to Venus sits alongside other quality (but much later) examples of the genre in its purest form, most notably Star Trek, boldly dealing with what science fiction is always about in the end: man's solitude. Because this is a story seeking not just what's out there, but rather what's inside us. Edited by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter, published in association with Swindon Heritage. September 2021, 132pp, illustrated paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-22-2.
Bishopstone with Little Hinton Parish: its Archaeology and History, by Mogs Boon and Bernard Phillips
Bishopstone with Little Hinton Parish was formerly two parishes - Bishopstone and Hinton. They are in north-east Wiltshire on land which has a long and varied history that spans over 12,000 years of human activity. The two authors have for many years trod the fields and byways of the parish searching for evidence of man's impact on the landscape and the artefacts they have left behind. This book records for present and future generations their discoveries and those of others within the parish - from prehistoric flint tools to deserted medieval villages and long-lost water mills. September 2021, 100pp, colour illustrated paperback, £10.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-20-8.