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The Wye Tour and its Artists

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by Julian Mitchell

176 pages,115 colour and 30 black and white illustrations
Paperback     £12.95    ISBN 978 1 906663 32 2   Now reduced to £5

Published to accompany an exhibition at Chepstow Museum and Art Gallery

The Reverend John Egerton, rector of Ross-on-Wye in the 1740s and ’50s, was a rich young man with a well-connected wife, much given to entertaining.  He had a pleasure boat built so their guests could enjoy a day on the river, visiting Goodrich Castle and Symonds Yat and venturing as far, perhaps, as Monmouth.  From such small private beginnings developed the popular two-day commercial Wye Tour from Ross to Chepstow, with a stop-over in Monmouth, and a long pause at Tintern Abbey.  
    The Tour was part of a general increase in travel among the British middle classes, especially among those in search of the picturesque. The high priest of picturesque theory was another clergyman, the Reverend William Gilpin, who took the Tour in 1770, and published his Observations on the River Wye in 1783. A schoolmaster, he laid down rules as to which views were and were not ‘correctly’ picturesque, but the concept was open to many interpretations, and debate about the picturesqueness or otherwise of ivy and beggars raged for half a century. When the Napoleonic wars of the 1790s made travel on the continent both difficult and dangerous, the Tour became very popular, and remained so well into the age of the first steam packets from Bristol and then the railway. A version of it was still available into the early twentieth century, the argument about the picturesque still unresolved.
    The playwright and novelist Julian Mitchell has been researching the subject for twenty-five years and with wit and keen observation he has made use of visitors’ diaries and poems and local guidebooks to recreate what may have been the first British package tour. The text is illustrated by a rich array of paintings and drawings by over 30 artists including John Sell Cotman, David Cox, Joshua Cristall, Edward Dayes, Thomas Hearne, Samuel Palmer, Michael ‘Angelo’ Rooker’, Thomas Rowlandson, Paul Sandby, John ‘Warwick’ Smith, Thomas Tudor, J.M.W. Turner, Cornelius and John Varley and James Wathen.

Shropshire Almshouses

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by Sylvia Watts

144 pages with 50 colour and 15 black and white illustrations
Paperback    £12.95    ISBN 978 1906663 31 5    Now reduced to £5

Almshouses, in the shape of early ‘hospitals’, have been a feature of Shropshire from the twelfth century, but the majority of the nearly 40 surviving almshouses were founded in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, and the most recent in 1955. Founded by comparatively wealthy benefactors, they usually provided for the ‘deserving’ poor who had fallen on hard times. They certainly only met a small proportion on the overall needs of the county, their combined provision in the last half of the nineteenth century accounting for only some 230 homes. In Bridgnorth, for example, two pairs of almshouses at the end of the 1800s provided for 20 people at a time when the Workhouse catered for around 120.
    The history of the almshouses is often intriguing: the personalities of the founders, the sometimes diminished enthusiasm of his or her descendants when faced with repair bills, the greater or lesser efforts of Trustees to manage the buildings down the decades, the degree of social control to which the residents were subjected, and the ways which those residents found to evade the rules and regulations. At Clun, for example, the inhabitants were required to be able to say the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments to qualify for admission and after acceptance were supposed to pray three times a day in their own rooms, to attend the almshouse chapel at 9 o’clock in the morning and 3 o’clock in the afternoon each day and to go to the parish church every Sunday. They had to ask if they wished to go into the town, and permission would not be given during prayer times. The impression is that church-going was not popular. According to A. Goldring, a clergyman who appears to have known the almshouses well, the residents demanded to be taken to church in a wagon as they claimed to be too infirm for the mile walk, yet, he said, they would cheerfully follow the hounds for three or four miles, hitching up their almshouse gowns and jumping fences.
    The buildings are often of architectural merit, and now add extra character to their surroundings. An Introduction surveys the architectural trends and also looks at the provision of almshouses across the county and how it compared with other parts of the UK, whilst the Gazetteer looks at each group of almshouses in detail, more so in some cases than in others due to the different survival rate of historical documents.

Sylvia Watts studied History at Oxford before entering on a career in teaching. In 1995 she gained a doctorate from Wolverhampton University for a thesis on four small Shropshire towns (Shifnal, Wellington, Wem and Whitchurch) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As an expert in mediaeval Latin and sixteenth-century documents, she was well placed to undertake much of the research necessary to write this book. She has written a book on Shifnal and has had several articles published in Local Population Studies, Midland History and the Transactions of the Shropshire Historical and Archaeological Society.

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Regime & Religion: Shrewsbury 1400 to 1700
by Barbara Coulton

196 pages with 7 colour and 30 black and white illustration
 Paperback   £12.95  ISBN 978 1906663 47 6   Now reduced to £6.50

This is a study of the political and religious life and allegiances of Shrewsbury, from  the time of the deposition of one king, Richard II, in 1399 to that of another, James II, in 1689. It is a story of many individuals advocating ideas, arguing for certain courses
of action and sometimes scheming to achieve their desired ends.
    The period starts with Shrewsbury’s local corporation struggling to achieve greater power in a period of Catholic hegemony with only rumblings of religious dissent in the form of the rise of Lollardy. It ends – a few charters later, after contact with the Council in the Marches, several royal visits, and a Civil War and subsequent retribution – with an enlarged municipal government, the Anglican church in the ascendancy and nonconformity being openly practised.
    This detailed account makes much use of local archives, letters and diaries to show how Shrewsbury’s people were both affected by and, at times, helped to shape national developments. Above all it tells the story of the town’s inhabitants: its burgesses and bailiffs, clerks and mayors, preachers and clergy, gentry and ordinary folk. 
    Barbara Coulton first began her research in Shrewsbury’s archives in the 1980s, and in 1989 published A Shropshire Squire, a study of the life of Noel Hill, the first Lord Berwick, for whom the Shropshire mansion of Attingham was built. After moving to Lancaster she continued her Shropshire researches and publication of articles, as an honorary research fellow at Lancaster University. The present book is a summation of her findings on Shrewsbury.

Parties, Polls and Riots:

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Politics in nineteenth-century Radnorshire

by Keith Parker

192 pages with 40 black and white illustrations
Paperback   £10  (ISBN 978 1 906663 23 0)    Now reduced to £5

This book covers the issues and personalities of Radnorshire politics in the nineteenth century. The local issues which exercised voters and non-voters alike, when the electoral franchise was much more restricted, were the rights of cottagers who had encroached on common land; tolls and tollgates; and fishing rights. The imposition of additional costs on Radnorshire’s many small farmers in the form of tolls came on top of other grievances — declining farm incomes, tithes, high poor rates and increased local taxation — and the very visible and local tollgates became an easy focus on which anger could be vented, forcing the authorities into overhauling the turnpike system in south Wales. The issues of commons encroachment and fishing rights saw more of a class divide and in both cases the Radnorshire establishment found it politic to make concessions to local public opinion.
        Keith Parker brings out the careers and political thoughts of the candidates, both those successful and unsuccessful, delves into the local issues that fired local politics, the ebb and flow of allegiances between families and how radicalism could cause estrangements, gives a feeling for elections down the century, and explains how the gradually increasing number of electors changed the way that electioneering took place. In so doing he also provides a social history of Radnorshire in the nineteenth century.
        A former deputy head of John Beddoes School, Keith Parker lectured for some years on local history for the Extra-Mural Department of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and since retirement has spent much of this time in historical research and writing. Parties, Polls and Riots is the third of his books on the history of Radnorshire to be published by Logaston Press.

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 £5

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 £5

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 £5

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.

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

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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.

The Dovecotes and Pigeon Houses of Herefordshire

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by Robert Walker

200 pages with 160 black and white and 8 colour illustrations
Paperback   £12.95  ISBN 978 1 906663 49 0    Now reduced to £6

The pigeon house which still stands in Garway, Herefordshire, is the earliest-dated dovecote anywhere in Britain, and it is just one of the 300 dovecotes and pigeon houses covered in this book. They represent all kinds of building methods and the architectural styles of many periods: round stone buildings, substantial octagonal brick structures and the vernacular timber-framed style, and accommodation for pigeons built into eaves, gables, and even the occasional chimney or belfry. The author has also traced many possible past sites of dovecotes, now only signified by field names.    This book is a completely fresh survey of Herefordshire’s dovecotes and pigeon houses, building upon earlier accounts, including those by Alfred Watkins in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Israel Cohen in the 1950s and Ian Stainburn in the 1970s. Many of Watkins’ and Cohen’s photographs are included here, being records of dovecotes that no longer exist.
    Robert Walker’s findings which draw on more recent ideas and surveys by writers such as John McCann alter many preconceptions about the purposes for and methods of keeping pigeons in medieval times and more recently. He shows, for example, that the pigeon could not have been a staple winter food for the lord of the manor, and that it was the young birds, or squabs, that provided a delicacy eaten at certain times of the year.
    Robert Walker has a tremendous enthusiasm for his subject and brings to his survey of Herefordshire an extensive knowledge of historic buildings gained from a long career in conservation. His down-to-earth account includes many observations about manorial rights and the messy business it would have been to look after pigeons, and he makes a clear case for the conservation of Herefordshire’s remaining pigeon houses.