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Son and Servant of Shropshire:
The Life of Archdeacon Joseph (Plymley) Corbett, 1759-1838
by Douglas Grounds

262 pages, 26 colour and 15 black and white illustrations
ISBN 978 1 906663 13 1 (paperback) £13.95; 978 1 906663 14 8 (hardback) £18.50

Born in 1759 to an apothecary father who had married into the Corbett family, Joseph Plymley was destined for the Church at an early age. In 1792 he became Archdeacon of Salop (in the Hereford diocese), his abilities and enthusiasm leading to much restoration and repair of church buildings as well as the invigoration of local clergy. He was keen to use existing laws and charities to improve the conditions of the rural poor, and would take others to task if they failed to do what he saw as their Christian duty. He took this attitude into his work as a magistrate, also using the powers conferred upon him to help improve the county’s infrastructure of roads and bridges. He also became actively involved in elections for the county and Shrewsbury and, in later years, promoting the work of the local Bible Society.
Plymley came to national prominence as a key supporter of the anti-slave trade movement in the late 1700s, becoming a friend of William Wilberforce and a close associate of Thomas Clarkson. Partly as a result of his proven administrative expertise in this capacity, but also because of his deep commitment to Shropshire and its inhabitants, he was asked by the Board of Agriculture to produce a report on the state of agriculture in Shropshire. His report, which included contributions from those with specialist knowledge, led to Plymley becoming the principal link between a number of scientists and intellectuals in what has become termed ‘The Shropshire Enlightenment’. (It was in this atmosphere of scientific inquiry that the young Charles Darwin grew up.)
    In 1804 he changed his name as a condition of receiving the Corbett inheritance, a bequest that led to a protracted legal battle. He was married twice, his first wife dying young, and produced a large family with whom he had a close relationship. This book, relying in large part on his own writings and a diary kept by his sister, Katherine, not only records the events of his life, but also describes his character and evaluates his contributions to tackling social issues and the development of the county.

Douglas Grounds was an Open Scholar in Modern History at Worcester College, Oxford, and took a research degree in the History of Education at Sheffield. He taught History in grammar and comprehensive schools in several parts of the country before becoming head of a large inner-city Church of England Comprehensive School. He first became aware of Archdeacon Joseph (Plymley) Corbett when writing A History of the Church of St Laurence, Church Stretton, published by Logaston Press in 2002. Further research revealed that the Archdeacon had been the leader of the anti-slave trade movement in Shropshire and beyond, and his sister’s journals, held at Shropshire Archives, provided such a detailed picture of his life and activities that a biography beckoned.

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John Venn and the Friends of the Hereford Poor
by Jean O’Donnell

Paperback, 144 pages with 80 b/w illustrations  ISBN 978 1904396 71 0  originally £9.95 now reduced to £4.95

The Rev. John Venn came from a circle that included William Wilberforce and others of a passionate, evangelising Christian mind. He trained to became an Anglican priest and moved to Hereford in 1833. Part of his parish included the area of St Owen’s, one of the poorest parts of the city. Imbued with the belief that all poverty could be dispelled by work, he made a proposal which saw the establishment of the Society for Aiding the Industrious. The Society soon created a hive of activity in Hereford. They built and ran a steam corn mill that milled corn at a cheaper rate than was charged elsewhere, and yet still made handsome profits which were ploughed back into other Society activities. There was a baths complex and subsequent swimming pool, allotments; a model farm and gardens; a coal store, a soup kitchen, and an office which also handled grants and loans. In effect, Venn created a whole mixed welfare system for the poor of Hereford. Jean O’Donnell has lived in Herefordshire for almost 50 years, has been a member of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club for 44 years and twice been its President, and has long had an interest in John Venn and his Society which led to the writing of this book.

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John Scarlett Davis – A Biography
by Tony Hobbs

Paperback, 92 pages, colour and b/w illustrations  ISBN 978 1 904396 15 4  originally £9.95 now reduced to £4.95

Using letters sent by Davis to his mother and other members of his family, Tony Hobbs lets the artist tell his own story. Davis was well regarded by his contemporaries including J.M.W. Turner, but after his death his work often went unrecognized. The quality of his later work and especially the collections in Hereford and Leominster are discussed along with his somewhat chaotic life.

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The Life and Times of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bart
by R.W.D. Fenn & Sir Andrew Duff Gordon, Bart

Paperback, 392 pages, 15 b/w plates  ISBN: 978 1 904396 29 1 originally £14.95 now reduced to £4.95

As Home Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Minister for War, George Cornewall Lewis, MP for New Radnor, served under and alongside Lord John Russell, Lord Palmerston and Gladstone. First elected to Parliament in 1847, he died in 1863. Using his diaries and correspondence, sources previously untapped, the authors have delved into Lewis’s relationships with his fellow politicians as well as trying to discover the man. This book brings to life not just Lewis, but also many aspects of the Welsh border at that time. Dr. R.W.D. Fenn has been an Associate lecturer and Senator to the Open University for many years, President of the Radnorshire Society since 2001 and served as President of the Cambrian Archaeological Association for 2004-5. Sir Andrew Duff Gordon is a kinsman of Sir George Cornewall Lewis.

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An Endless Quiet Valley: John Masefield, a re-evaluation
by Paul Binding

240 pages with illustrations
Hardback ISBN 978 1 873827 35 2  originally £17.95 now reduced to £10 

A literary re-appraisal of John Masefield by Paul Binding, previously deputy literary editor of the New Statesman. The book focuses on the period of Masefield’s work that began with ‘The Everlasting Mercy’ and continued with several narrative poems, sonnets and other work into the 1920s, to be his canon – a canon that shocked then and can shock now. Masefield’s work is set in the context of other literary work that was appearing at the time, and the man himself is considered, and all the passions and complexity that made him write as he did.

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Triumph: The Life and Art of Captain Adrian Jones

by Robert S. Burns

304 pages, 60 colour and 110 black and white illustrations
Paperback    £20    ISBN 978 1 906663 44 5

The Shropshire-born sculptor and painter Adrian Jones (1845-1938) was one of the most remarkable artists of the heyday of the British Empire. After graduating from veterinary college he served for twenty-four years as an army officer, with postings to a series of crack cavalry regiments and to three wars, including being with the strike force at the storming of Magdala in the Abyssinia War and with the elite Camel Corps in the Relief of General Gordon expedition. Afterwards, though he had never attended art school, he became a full-time artist. His understanding of animal anatomy and detailed craftsmanship made him the nation’s leading equine artist, frequently commissioned by the Prince of Wales, Lord Wavertree and other owners to paint and sculpt their Derby and Grand National winners. Tens of thousands of spectators attended the dedications of his military memorials. English Heritage marked the Millennium by spending £1.5 million on conserving London’s greatest statue, the Peace Quadriga, which Adrian had undertaken on the prompting of King Edward VII. His life intertwined also with those of great generals and famous artists, so the book contains interesting sidelights on Victorian and Edwardian society. Adrian Jones was also a founder member of the Shropshire Society, its President for several years and the designer of its Webb Medal.
    Robbie Burns, a member of the Shropshire Society, has been interested in the work of Adrian Jones since he became headmaster of Ludlow Grammar School, Adrian’s old school, in 1970. He has had access to the family archives of Adrian’s descendants and to the archives of the Sladmore Gallery, which held the 1984 retrospective exhibition of Adrian’s work in association with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Fund for the restoration of the artistic masterpiece ‘Duncan’s Horses’. Other help has come from private collectors, regiments, military museums, clubs and institutions.