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Book Reviews, December 2004

by John Loosley

Cirencester a Century Ago, the Bingham Legacy by David and Linda Viner, 2004, pp.143, illustrated, ISBN 0-7509-3987-7, Sutton Publishing, £12.99.

Daniel George Bingham was born on 16 March 1830 in Black Jack Street, Cirencester, joined the Great Western Railway in the 1840s and later became general manager of the Dutch Rhenish Railway Co. He built up a considerable fortune in Holland and although living there till his death in 1913 he retained a great affection for his home town of Cirencester becoming one of Cirencester's greatest benefactors. This book, by well-known Cirencester historians David and Linda Viner, celebrates the centenary of the building of Bingham Library. The book first examines the life and career of Daniel Bingham and the building of the Library and then describes the development of the Market Place over the centuries with the aid of many photographs and illustrations. The authors proceed with a tour of the town as it would have appeared during Bingham's lifetime and illustrate the tremendous changes which took place in this span of 80 years. There is a wealth of fascinating photographs, the majority of which belong to the Bingham Trust and held in the Bingham Library, and a full and comprehensive description of these photos and history of the people and buildings. This book gives an excellent picture of Cirencester in the Victorian and Edwardian era and the contribution made by Daniel George Bingham.

Cheltenham's Lost Heritage by Oliver C. Bradbury, 2004, pp.176, illustrated, ISBN 0-7509-2990-1, Sutton Publishing, £14, illustrated, ISBN 0-7509-2990-1, Sutton Publishing, £14.99.

Oliver Bradbury has for many years been researching the lost buildings of Cheltenham and in 2000 published a paper in Gloucestershire History on 'Cheltenham Destroyed: an Introduction to the Lost Buildings'. An illustration of the extent of the destruction is that of the 196 buildings illustrated in George Rowe's Cheltenham Illustrated Guide of 1845 only 88 survive. In the past 10 years the author has discovered many photographs of buildings which have long since vanished or which have been extensively rebuilt and has researched their history. This book is a type of gazetteer covering over 100 properties and as such is an invaluable record for historians, architects and others who have an interest in many changes in this Regency Town. Perhaps equally importantly it allows the reader to judge whether the present day Cheltenham could have been a more attractive place if many of these lost buildings had survived.

Trading Places by Judith Ellis, Jennifer Bruce and others, 2004, pp.72, illustrated, ISBN 0 9511434 8 4, Campden and District Historical and Archaeological Society, £8.00.

In 2000 CADHAS set up a Community Archive with funding from the lottery. This has resulted in over 4000 photographs being scanned into digital format and many hours of recordings of inhabitants' memories. This book is the first to be published as a result of this project and joins a series of books published by the Society over its 20 years history. Although Chipping Campden cannot be classed as a major shopping centre it certainly had its share of grocers, bakers, chemists, butchers, drapers and general stores catering not just for Chipping Campden but also the surrounding villages. This book looks at a selection of the shops and, following a brief historic description of the business, records people's memories of the shop and shopkeepers. There are many photographs and illustrations which remind the reader of the independent shopkeeper before supermarkets and national chains.

Stroud Streets and Shops by Wilf Merrett, 2004, pp.127, illustrated, ISBN 0 7524 3307 5, Tempus Publishing, £12.99.

Another book on shops but a very different treatment of the subject. Wilf Merrett has lived in Stroud all his life and can remember many of the shops which were around before WWII. Several years ago members of the Stroud Local History Society produced a plan of central Stroud showing the location of various shops and businesses in the town in 1910 based on Kelly's Directory. The author compares this information with shops in 1950 and 2003. He leads the reader through Stroud street by street using many old photographs to illustrate the changes and at the end of each chapter lists the shops which occupied each site in the 3 years of 1910, 1950 and 2003. This is a fascinating study of the change in retailing over the past 100 years and shows that was little change between 1910 and 1950 but with the arrival of supermarkets and large national chains the shops of 2003 bear little resemblance to those 50 years earlier. An interesting footnote is that one of the few businesses to occupy the same site between 1910 and 2003 is W.H. Smith.

Sir Gerard Noel MP and the Noels of Chipping Campden and Exton by Gerard Noel, 2004, pp.230, illustrated, ISBN 0-9511434-9-2, Campden and District Historical and Archaeological Society., £17.95.

The story of the Noels and their involvement in Chipping Campden starts with a meeting between Baptist Hicks and Sir Andrew Noel in the early years of the 17th century. Baptist Hicks gained great wealth through his appointment as a contractor for Crown lands and Sir Andrew Noel became a favourite of Queen Elizabeth and held estates in Leicestershire and Rutland. Through the marriage of the daughter of Baptist Hicks and the son of Andrew Noel the two families came together and the Noels became lords of the manors of Chipping Campden and Exton and subsequently Earls of Gainsborough. This book, whilst tracing the history of the Noel family from their arrival from France around 1100, concentrates on the flamboyant figure of Sir Gerard Noel whose large portrait hangs in Chipping Campden's Town Hall.

Sir Gerard Noel had 3 wives and 18 children and managed to lose a fortune in ill advised business ventures. He hoped for a peerage, the recreation of his uncle's title, and the story goes that Pitt had finally decided to recreate the Earldom of Gainsborough and bestow it on Sir Gerard but bumping into Sir Gerard in the Commons Pitt asked for his vote and Sir Gerard got the wrong end of the stick and took offence which resulted in an irate Pitt tearing up the grant. The peerage was granted in 1841 to Sir Gerard's son Charles.

The book is written by Sir Gerard's great great grandson Gerard Noel a long-term resident of Chipping Campden who he has used the extensive collection of family papers and correspondence in Leicester Record Office to tell a fascinating story of family fortunes.

Harry Workman's Memories of Tewkesbury, Part 2: from 1938 to today by Harry Workman, 2004, pp.43, illustrated, Tewkesbury Historical Society, £4.00.

This second volume of memories covers the period from 1938 to the present. In 1938 Harry Workman purchased a milk round in Tewkesbury and this book covers the remarkable story of the expansion of the business into the successful Cotteswold Dairies and the many characters with which Harry Workman came in contact. In 1950 there was a change in career as he was persuaded to enter local politics and was elected mayor in 1959 and 1960 and alderman in 1966. As one of only 3 mayors in Gloucestershire at that time he was invited to numerous official functions both in and outside the county including a rather grand dinner with the Lord Mayor of Bristol, staying overnight at the Mansion House. This book illustrates the value of recording the memories of inhabitants, particularly those with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances as the accounts of the people and places would never be found in archives in the future. The Tewkesbury Historical Society must be congratulated for arranging this publication.

Leckhampton Local History Society Research Bulletin No. 3, 2004, pp.60, illustrated, ISBN 0 9524200 4 X, Leckhampton Local History Society, £3.00.

Following the successful publication of the second Research Bulletin 3 years ago, the editor, Eric Miller has now assembled a further series of articles on various aspects of Leckhampton's history. There is an intriguing piece by the editor exploring the name Leckhampton. It is the only place in the world with this name but the name occurs in many other instances such as buildings as far afield as Australia and South Africa and in various novels. Terry Moore-Scott has, following his examination of roads and tracks in Leckhampton in the earlier bulletin, tackled the history of the farms of Leckhampton. Later in the publication he reports on the excavation and geophysical survey of Leckhampton Moat. There is an article which traces the history of Trowscoed Lodge Estate and its occupants from the earlier 1830s until about 1918 when the house was demolished. Although not a large estate it had a series of interesting occupants including Rev. John Griffiths Lloyd who was personally attacked by Francis Close, the curate of Cheltenham, on Sunday observance and Sir Frederick Carrington who served with some distinction in the army in Africa. Other articles on the Hargreaves of Leckhampton Court and the Tithes of Llanthony Priory in Leckhampton show the variety of subjects explored. A final plea from the editor, which I have heard from many editors seeking future contributors of articles, is there anyone else out there?

 

A Chronology of Crime and Conflict in Cheltenham compiled by Jill Waller, 2004, pp.38, illustrated, Cheltenham Local History Society, £#.

In 2002 the County Local History Afternoon had the theme of 'Trade and Industry in Gloucestershire' and the Cheltenham Local History Society decided as part of their contribution to the event to publish a Chronology of Trade and Industry in Cheltenham. This proved highly successful and in 2003 a Chronology of Sickness and Health in Cheltenham followed. When it was announced that the theme for the 2004 event was to be 'Crime and Conflict in the Midlands' the society and particularly Jill Waller decided to produce a Chronology of Crime and Conflict in Cheltenham. Covering both crime and conflict from the killing of Christine of Arle by John of Brockhampton in 1221 to the protests by staff of GCHQ in 1984 this book provides a wonderful catalogue of troubles in Cheltenham. We all thought it was a peaceful and respectable town!! A great idea and one which other societies may wish to follow

Minchinhampton Life and Times, Part 4: Reminiscences, 2004, pp.45, illustrated, Minchinhampton Local History Group.

This is a series of reminiscences of past life in Minchinhampton by various members of the community but it also contains extracts from the Sheppard Family History covering parts relevant to Minchinhampton written by Mary Sheppard in 1892, an account published in the New Zealand Canterbury Times in 1914 about a Minchinhampton boy who ended up in New Zealand and a description of a visit to Minchinhampton in 1885 by a five year old girl. The Society organised an exhibition in October 2004 called 'Friends and Neighbours' and hope that as a result of this exhibition more material will be available for further volumes of Life and Times

Cheltenham a History by Sue Rowbotham and Jill Waller, 2004, pp.134, illustrated, ISBN 1 86077 316 8, Phillimore & Co Ltd, £15.99.

There have been numerous books published covering the history of Cheltenham, in fact probably more than any other place in Gloucestershire, so when reading a new history one searches for a different approach to earlier books. Much has been written about the spa and Regency Cheltenham and Gwen Hart, in 1965, produced a history which covered Cheltenham from ancient times up to its incorporation in 1876 with a brief postscript covering later years. The authors, members of the Cheltenham Local History Society, have now sought to bring together in one book a concise history covering many aspects of Cheltenham's development from the manor to a modern centre of education, retailing, service industries and manufacturing. It is an interesting story of the development of a town from humble beginnings and the people who made this possible. As we would expect from the publishers, Phillimore, this hardback book is produced to a very high standard with a wealth of illustrations.

John Hopkins Metrical Psalmist and Rector of Great Waldingfield: co-author with Thomas Sternhold of the first national English hymn book 1562 by Susan Ranson, 2004, pp.101, illustrated, ISBN 0-9547422-0-6, Border Editions, £8.80.

Everyone who has sung 'All people that on earth do dwell' has sung a metrical psalm published in the 1562 psalter. This book studies the life and work of the co-authors of this first national English hymn book. It was believed for many years that both Sterngold and Hopkins were born in Awre in Gloucestershire but in 1968, the then County Archivist, Irvine Gray came to the conclusion that John Hopkins was not related to the Hopkins in Awre and this has since been confirmed. Thomas Sterngold was almost certainly born in Awre although, following education at Oxford, he came to the court of Henry VIII and by 1546 was a Member of Parliament for Plymouth purchasing a manor in Hampshire in 1547. He died in 1549 aged little over 30 but by then had already published a volume of nineteen metrical psalms and a further eighteen appeared after his death. Susan Ransom has produced a book which firstly examines the evidence of the lives of both Sterngold and Hopkins and then proceeds to discuss their work and that of the other minor contributors culminating in the complete work of the 150 metrical psalms published in 1562 as The Whole Booke of Psalmes. A useful chapter describes the new attitudes to worship starting with Luther's call for the writing of congregational songs in 1523 and the rush of publishing in Nuremberg, Wittenberg and Strassburg to be followed by Zurich, Constance and Geneva and in England, from 1548.

The author analyses in some depth the work of Sterngold and Hopkins comparing the vocabulary, word length, choice of rhymes and word order with some of the other metrical psalmists and Coverdale's translation of the Bible which was published I Zurich in 1535. Another chapter looks at the tunes of the hymn book, their character and why only a few of these survive today.

This is a fascinating account of the writing of the original hymns of the new Church of England which were in print for almost three centuries, outselling all but the Bible and Prayer Book.