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Books on Shropshire

Wilfred Owen's Shrewsbury: from the Severn to Poetry and War
by Helen McPhail

Paperback, 144 pages, with 76 black and white illustrations

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ISBN 978-1-910839-25-6  £12.95

Wilfred Owen spent his formative years living in Shrewsbury in the period leading up to the First World War. He arrived in the town on a cold, wet night in January 1907 with his parents Tom and Susan, and siblings Harold, Mary and Colin. Tom had secured a good job at Shrewsbury Station, and while the family was never well-to-do the post meant they were able to live comfortably in a Shrewsbury recognisable to this day: the old town encircled by its loop of the River Severn; the tightly packed medieval streets and stately Abbey; the bridges, roads and railway lines that radiate out into Shropshire beyond. The modest houses that were home to the Owen family can also still be seen.

 Today, it is hard to imagine Wilfred Owen – one of England’s most admired war poets – for what he was then: just another ambitious but uncertain adolescent, puzzling out his place in the world. He arrived in Shrewsbury as a 14-year-old schoolboy, yet headed to war just 11 years later as a young man determined to make his mark in the world as a poet – something he achieved despite his untimely death in 1918.

 Wilfred Owen’s Shrewsbury offers both an intimate account of Wilfred’s family life in Shrewsbury, and an atmospheric portrait of the town during the early years of the twentieth century, richly illustrated with archival photographs.

The Industrial Archaeology of Shropshire

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by Barrie Trinder

Paperback, 304 pages with over 140 colour and 70 black and white illustrations, mainly photographs
ISBN 978 1 910839 05 8     Price £15

This is a completely revised and updated edition of The Industrial Archaeology of Shropshire, first published in 1996, and now includes over 140 colour illustrations, together with 60 in black and white.

Shropshire was one of the birthplaces of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, and the monuments of this period of the nation’s history, particularly the Iron Bridge, are widely recognised as a symbol of that time. The Ironbridge Gorge features heavily in this book, for its mines, the variety of its manufactures, for its role in the Severn Navigation and for its ingenious canals and early railways. The county’s other coalfields, near Oswestry, around Shrewsbury, in the Wyre Forest and on the Clee Hills are analysed in some detail, which gives perspective to the achievements of those who worked in and around Coalbrookdale.
    Industry also flourished in the Shropshire countryside and the book examines the many uses of water power, brick-making, and industries related to food production, as well as highlighting the opportunities for manufacturing provided in the 17th and 18th centuries by open commons on which squatters could settle, and by the availability of redundant military bases and railway stations in the 20th. Shropshire’s market towns housed foundries, coachbuilders and later railway engineering works, as well as such traditional industries as corn milling, tanning and malting. The book describes the imposing monuments of lead mining around the Stiperstones. It analyses the full range of textile manufactures, from the humble cottages of ‘custom weavers’ to the mighty iron-framed flax mills in Shrewsbury, and also examines the county’s roads, canals and main line railways.
Barrie Trinder
spent more than 30 years teaching in Shropshire, in the county’s adult education service and at the Ironbridge Institute. He is the author of many books on industrial and social history.

The Story of Bishop's Castle                                                                                                                                                                                                           
edited by David Preshous, George Baugh, John Leonard, Gavin Watson and Andrew Wigley

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Paperback, 176 pages, over 40 colour and 35 black and white illustrations, mainly photographs
ISBN: 978-1-910839-08-9     Price: £12.95

Bishop’s Castle is a small market town in Shropshire, 22 miles south-west of Shrewsbury, and within 2 miles of the Welsh Border. It grew up around a Norman castle built by a bishop of  Hereford, received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I in 1573, and enjoyed a colourful political life as a rotten or pocket borough. It maintains its historical role as an important focal point in a sparsely-populated rural area, offering a wide range of facilities and services. This book, written by a number of local authors, offers readers a broad view of the origins and historical development of a rather remarkable town.

Ludlow Castle, Its History and Buildings

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edited by Ron Shoesmith & Andy Johnson                          

260 pages. Illustrated; ISBN 1 904396 48 8 (Paperback) £14.95 : 1 904396 49 6 (Hardback) £19.95

Ludlow Castle has often played a pivotal role in the history of theWelsh Marches, indeed of the whole of the United Kingdom. This book draws together the history of the buildings and its owners to provide a developing picture of the castle’s role in both border and national history and interprets the changes that occurred in the buildings themselves. Each of the 24 chapters is written by an expert in the field.
This edition includes Castle House – the Powis Estate’s recent acquisition.

South Shropshire’s First World War     

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Bishop’s Castle, Bridgnorth, Church Stretton, Clun, Craven Arms, Ludlow, Much Wenlock and surrounding villages

by Derek Beattie

Paperback, 224 pages, 110 black and white photographs
Price £12.95       ISBN 9781906663827

The outbreak of war was greeted in south Shropshire, as elsewhere in Britain, with patriotic fervour and a sense of pride in the British Empire. Volunteers for the armed forces were soon queuing outside hurriedly established recruiting offices. Fearful of saboteurs and spies, Boy Scouts started looking out for anyone acting suspiciously and soon they and the Boys Brigade were patrolling railway lines and the route of Birmingham’s water supply. As the war became one of stalemate and attrition, with the associated increases in casualties, recruiting drives proved less and less successful. Many found less than honourable ways to avoid joining up, to the increasing annoyance and anger of those who had. With resultant conscription also came conscientious objection, with a camp for COs established at Ditton Priors. There also arose a growing need for hospitals and convalescent homes to cope with the casualties and the sight of recuperating men helping on farms was not unusual. Perhaps more surprising to many was the sight of women driving mechanized farm machinery, whilst others went to work in munition factories.
The war also brought out the best and the worst in local people. Knitting and sewing groups were soon established in every town and village providing the troops with ‘comforts’ to keep them warm and dry in the trenches, whilst parcels of small luxuries were sent to men the senders had never met. At the same time others hoarded food or sought to twist the rules of rationing to their own advantage. The fighting also brought widespread misery in the notification of those wounded, killed, captured or missing, such news coming from a variety of sources both official and unofficial and sometimes contradictory – with the resultant added anguish. For those receiving news of a family member or fiancée who had been wounded or killed the details were often only cursorily known and, if listed as missing, loved ones had to endure the agony of waiting for further news whilst clinging to the remnants of hope.
Yet, for all those who enlisted from south Shropshire, the war gave them the chance to see sights and gain experiences that would otherwise have been closed to them. Their letters home are full of their reactions, and not all from France, as some were posted to the Far East or to the Eastern Mediterranean and eventually Palestine, the Holy Land of their Bible classes. Indeed, their letters are often surprisingly frank about life at the front too, until censorship began to be exercised, in part from fear that the content was lowering morale on the home front. Finally, when the war was over it was time to decide how to honour the men who had gone to serve their country, whilst for the ex-servicemen themselves they had to adjust to a life where employment opportunities were limited, especially for those physically maimed or mentally scarred.

Dr Derek Beattie retired to Ludlow from his post as Head of History at Blackburn College and soon began researching aspects of local social history. After mixing archive research with interviewing many long term residents he wrote The Home Front in Ludlow during the Second World War before turning his attention to the local effects of the First World War.

The Story of Shrewsbury

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by Mary de Saulles

Paperback, 272 pages, 120 colour and 100 black and white illustrations   ISBN 978 1906663 68 1     £15

Shrewsbury has been a frontier town and a centre of England’s thriving woollen industry, sited on a major trading river. It witnessed conflict with the Welsh and between factions within England, which led to a series of fortifications and visits by many of England’s medieval kings. Timber-framed buildings were erected by the merchants made wealthy by trade. Wealth was also brought to the town as a result of the abbey, notably after it gained the remains of St Winifrede with the resulting influx of pilgrims. But the abbey was also the early industrial hub of the city, and the site of two early parliaments.
In the Georgian period the town began to exert its influence as the county town, but not all was gentility. With the coming of the railways, suburbs grew and the economy further diversified. Services such as water supply and sewerage struggled to keep pace with the spreading town. After the Second World War, the town’s architectural heritage was threatened by redevelopment. The book ends with a consideration of recent developments in the nature of the town and what it indicates for the future.

Cavalier Stronghold

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Ludlow in the English Civil Wars, 1642-1660

by John Bar

Paperback, 128 pages, 40 illustrations    ISBN 9781906663773     Price £10

Ludlow was a Royalist stronghold in the Civil Wars that lay far away from the tramp of armies seeking the right conditions and ground on which to fight their foe. The only Parliamentarian blot on the landscape was the small Harley fortress of Brampton Bryan, but their garrison was small and had little offensive capacity. That did not mean that Ludlow was isolated from the war, for the Royalists saw it as a source of funds and manpower for their cause, which was to give rise to a growing feeling of resentment.
In due course
the Royalists felt they must lance the Parliamentary boil at Brampton Bryan, but the first siege failed and the Parliamentarians seized the initiative and installed a garrison in Hopton Castle, which then had at least some vestiges of its curtain wall as well as the still remaining keep. The subsequent Royalist siege is covered in detail, as it resulted in the infamous Hopton massacre, which coloured attitudes to the conflict at least locally.
The Royalist capture of Hopton Castle and then Brampton Bryan in the Spring of 1644 saw them at the zenith of their powers, but it was short lived. The defeat at Marston Moor in July that year saw remnants of Royalist units operating without much central authority in the Marches which in turn helped cause the clubmen risings later in the year. Defeat at Montgomery in September was evidence of an increasing threat to Ludlow itself. In June 1645 the local Royalists were defeated at Stokesay, news that was hotly followed by that of the defeat of the main Royalist field army at Naseby. With the loss of Hereford that winter, Spring 1646 was to see the siege of Ludlow itself. Fortunately for the townsfolk, the Royalist governor of Ludlow only sought an honourable surrender.
In telling this story, and the subsequent life of the town during the Protectorate and Commonwealth, the author focuses much attention on how the events affected residents of the town, in terms of conscription, taxation, quartering of troops, sequestration, and using the strife as cover to settle old scores. He also attempts to gauge the population’s true allegiances.
John Barratt is a resident of Ludlow, and member of the Ludlow Historical Research Group. He writes and lectures widely on medieval and 17th-century history. His first full-length book, Cavaliers, was published in 2000. His other books on this period include Cavalier Generals (2005), The Civil War in the South-West (2007) and Sieges of the English Civil War (2010).

The Churches of Shropshire & their treasures

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by John Leonard

Paperback, 384 pages, over 500 colour photographs     ISBN 9781906663780    Price £17.50

This book explores 320 Shropshire churches, from those with Anglo-Saxon origins to ones built in the last few decades. The first chapters consider various aspects of their foundation, architecture, decoration, furnishings and monuments, whilst later chapters consider the different geographical areas of the county in turn, describing each church within each area and highlighting what is of particular interest. John Leonard’s deep knowledge of church architecture and history and his responsiveness to spiritual beauty and vitality will help visitors to Shropshire’s churches interpret and understand what they are seeing. A starring system is used to indicate which churches the author feels offer most to a visitor.
The book is an updated edition of that first published in 2004, to a new design and now including just under 500 colour photographs.
John Leonard is a retired consultant physician who lives in Hopesay, Shropshire. He has written books on the parish churches of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Herefordshire, Staffordshire and London.

Regime & Religion: Shrewsbury 1400-1700

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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.

The Shropshire Home Guard

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by Bernard Lowry

128 pages with 45 black and white illustrations
Paperback   £10      ISBN 978 190666346 9   Now reduced to £5

The Home Guard, like its forerunner the Local Defence Volunteers, was formed in 1940 in response to the likely threat of an invasion of Britain that would involve German paratroop attacks aided by fifth columnists as had happened in Belgium and Holland. The Home Guard was a volunteer force that would defend its local area, territory well known to them, leaving the regular Army to concentrate on repelling the main thrust of any invasion. Shropshire was included in these plans, not least because it was feared that spies could be present anywhere in the country, and that the invasion might well come through Ireland directed towards the north Wales coast.
    In its early days the force in Shropshire was poorly equipped in terms of both uniforms and weaponry, but as its role changed over the months, from keeping an eye out for parachutists to setting up road blocks, defending localities and forming more mobile units, the uniforms arrived and the weaponry improved. Towards the end of the war the Home Guard was equipped with machine guns and even lightly armoured cars. 
    The story of the Home Guard in Shropshire as told in this book is drawn from records held in Shropshire Archives and stories told by former members. It thus combines official documents and orders with personal accounts of what it was like to be a member —and what did and didn’t happen in practice.
    Bernard Lowry has lived in Shropshire for over 30 years and has a lifelong interest in military history. This is his sixth book, two previous books having been published by Logaston Press: The Mercian Maquis (with Mick Wilks) and (with Mick Wilks and Colin Jones) 20th Century Defences in Britain: The West Midlands Area (now out of print).

The Home Front in Ludlow in the Second World War

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by Derek Beattie

304 pages, with 75 b&w illustrations
Paperback    £12.95    ISBN 978 1 906663 51 3

The Second World War brought for the people of Ludlow and the surrounding countryside a complex mixture of trials and temptations, tragedy and farce. By scouring the local press of the time and interviewing people who remember it all too vividly and express their memories with vigour, indignation and humour, Derek Beattie has produced an honest and powerful portrait of a town at war. The threat of invasion prompted the formation of the Home Guard, whose volunteers were hastily kitted out with ill-fitting uniforms and borrowed weapons: ‘It was noted that one man found it impossible to keep his rifle at the slope and his trousers up simultaneously.’ Extraordinary things happened: the ploughing up of ancient grassland, the updating of Ludlow’s steam-powered fire engine, and girls lowered on stretchers from the castles walls as air raid wardens practised first aid. One man took the blackout so seriously that he covered up the white flowers in his moonlit garden. People found themselves in court for everything from driving into a cow in the dark to receiving stolen goods in the form of Army woollen underpants or selling falsely labelled ‘onion powder’. The mayor was fined for obstructing the police, whom he accused of Gestapo tactics, and the rector declared Sunday cinema to be ‘a thing of evil’.
    The area saw the arrival of all kinds of visitors, from Liverpool evacuee children (there are stories from the evacuees themselves as well as from those who took them in) and Dunkirk survivors - ‘It broke your heart to see them’ - to black American soldiers - ‘ the most gentlemanly people I have ever met’, Italian and German POWs, and a huge influx of military personnel: ‘Lots of blokes - about five to every girl’. Life was very tough but never dull. Women found themselves doing things they had never done before, from jitterbugging with GIs to all kinds of work: driving cattle through the Ludlow streets to market, cutting timber for pit props, cleaning torpedo heads. Ludlow acquired a red light district, and girls acquired their ‘fern ticket’ dallying with soldiers in the bracken. Small boys were tempted by all manner of opportunities, from stealing explosives to daring each other to steal girls’ knickers.
    Ludlow’s middle-class residents come in for quite a lot of criticism, whether they are discovered wriggling out of accommodating evacuees, acquiring illicit petrol, or exhibiting insensitivity - but many shouldered their responsibilities heroically, and some were shocked into realising that Ludlow had its social problems, and resolving that things would be improved after the war. But no social class could claim a clear conscience for, as one interviewee admits, ‘In the war everybody fiddled.’ Against a backdrop of fear and grief - ‘every day you looked for a letter and it didn’t come’ - Ludlow soldiered on, sheltered from the worst of wartime hardship, fortified as it was by many a poached rabbit and unregistered pig, at times stoically, sometimes resentfully, and often in the face of difficulties, accidents and general incompetence. Derek Beattie reveals all in this meticulously researched and candid account.

St Laurence’s Church, Ludlow; The parish church and people, 1199-2009

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by David Lloyd, Margaret Clark & Chris Potter

272 pages, 70 black and white and 25 colour illustrations
Paperback     £12.95    ISBN 978 1906663 40 7

This is in part a book about the physical church: its architecture, its furnishings and glass. But it is even more a book about people: those to whose lives the tombs and memorials in the church bear witness, and many others who have also played their parts in the history of St Laurence’s. The authors’ careful research has uncovered the contributions of rectors, readers and other parish clergy, as well as many a tale (not all complimentary) of parishioners and visitors to the church. From the medieval Palmer's Guild to the modern Team Ministry, they have traced the story of St Laurence’s and its people. From the great harvest of information they have gathered, the authors have gleaned many insights, discerning trends in religious observance, changing attitudes to the clergy, and shifting views and allegiances among the clergy themselves. They also shed light on relations between the church and the townspeople of Ludlow, especially as represented by the Borough Corporation – all this against the dramatic backdrop of the history of the church in England through the centuries.
    The work of three historians is here combined to give a lively account of St Laurence’s. All three, after careers in education, have continued research in their own fields. Margaret Clark is a Reformation historian, and chairs the Ludlow Historical Research Group. Chris Potter, past chairman of the LHRG, is a classical scholar and a specialist in the diocesan church courts. David Lloyd was founder-chairman of the LHRG and its research adviser. His doctoral thesis was on Georgian Ludlow.

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Shropshire Almshouses

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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Son and Servant of Shropshire:
The Life o
f 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 Heref ord 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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A Jacobean 'Market Hall', Bishop's Castle, Shropshire
by Madge Moran and Henry Hand

32 pages, 34 black and white illustrations, drawings and maps
ISBN: 978 1 9 066 63 11 7    Price: £4.95

This booklet, as its name suggests, considers the ‘Market Hall’ in Bishop’s Castle. Inverted commas are required because the purpose of the building, the significance of which was only appreciated after an extensive fire in 2000, is still unclear. From the subsequent research carried out it seems most likely that this was indeed the purpose of the building, located between School Lane and the High Street, but with some additional storage space. 
    The text starts with a consideration of the architecture of the building, using a number of reconstructional drawings to help illustrate how the building might have looked. The results of the archaeological excavation carried out in 2007 are then given, along with the results of dendrochonological sampling of the remaining timbers to ascertain their felling date. The history of the manor and market is then detailed, comparisons made with other market halls along the borders, its function debated and some conclusions drawn.
    Madge Moran is well known for her investigations into the vernacular buildings of Shropshire, and Henry Hand for his general archaeological research and drawings of buildings in particular.

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Festival Ludlow: Eight centuries of Art, Culture & Entertainment
by David Lloyd and Karen Johnson

168 pages with over 60 colour and 100 black and white illustrations
 Paperback   ISBN 978 1 906663 15 5    Price: £12.95 now reduced to £5

Books could be written on ‘baronial Ludlow’, ‘manufacturing Ludlow’, ‘political Ludlow’ and on many other kinds of Ludlow. Such books – as some already do – would record topics such as conquest, wealth creation, poverty and destitution. But Festival Ludlow is principally about happiness – not the total experience of happiness, but that happiness which comes from creating and enjoying various forms of art – writing, acting, making music, carving, and painting.
    Since Roger Mortimer heard the tale of the Fitzwarine Romance in Ludlow Castle in the 12th century, and medieval patrons like John Parys commissioned the stained glass windows in St Laurence’s church, Ludlow has been the setting for an extraordinary range and richness of artistic achievement and entertainment. In the town’s period of greatest national influence, when it was the base for the Council in the Marches, an eminent literary and artistic circle, led by the Sidney and Herbert families, gathered around the Council. There is strong evidence that Shakespeare himself performed in Ludlow, but the crowning glory of the period was the first performance of Milton’s Comus at the castle in 1634. There have been many glories since. This book recounts the intriguing history of the arts in Ludlow, covering theatre and dramatic spectacle, music, poetry, literature and intellectual life, and the visual arts, all which have continued to thrive in the town. Many performances still take place in the ancient venues of the castle and the church, and are at the heart of Ludlow Festival. The book’s publication coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Festival, and its final two chapters chart its origins in the 1934 Ludlow Pageant (itself a commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Comus) and its development over the years, from the excitement of the first festival in 1960 and the year-round work to create and present the Shakespeare production in the castle for which the festival is renowned, to its full flowering as a joyous celebration of all the arts.
    Dr David Lloyd, M.B.E., was born and brought up in Ludlow, though his later career was in education elsewhere, his involvement with the Festival and its predecessors began in 1953, during his final term at Ludlow Grammar School, when he was one of a group of amateurs in Comus’s rabble rout: ‘an unforgettable experience’. Upon returning to Ludlow in retirement, among his many contributions to the life of the town, he was actively involved with the Festival in a number of ways, while his historical tours and lectures became regular features of the Festival programme. Karen Johnson’s love of theatre and literature (which perhaps began when at the age of 10 she was taken to Stratford to see Romeo and Juliet) led her to read English at Cambridge, and she continues to find inspiration in art of all kinds. She has edited books on many subjects, including one on Buddhism and the arts, and produces books on local history as co-proprietor of Logaston Press.

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The Folklore of Shropshire      
by Roy Palmer

Paperback, 352 pages, over 250 illustrations  ISBN: 978 1 904396 16 1  £12.95

Shropshire’s folklore is presented in a series of themed chapters that encompass landscape, buildings, beliefs, work, seasons, people, music and drama. In the eleven chapters the county’s rich store of folklore unfolds in a way that allows you to dip into what most intrigues, or to read from start to finish. Roy Palmer is nationally known for his researches into folklore, and has written accounts of the folklore of several counties on both sides of the southern Welsh border, along with various anthologies.

Diddlebury: the History of a Corvedale Parish

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by Martin Speight

Paperback, 208 pages, 60 b/w illustrations  ISBN 978 1904396 66 6    £9.95

The result of many years’ research, this history looks at land ownership and use to provide a picture of agriculture, fluctuating personal fortune, the scale of estates and their management. The lives and influences of the landowners are recounted, but so too are the lives and conditions of many of the poorest. This study commends itself as an example of solid research presented in a most readable and interesting style. Martin Speight was a founder member of the Ludlow Historical research group, and has published a number of writings on the history of south Shropshire. Martin and his wife have lived in the parish of Diddlebury for over 20 years.

Ditton Priors: A Settlement of the Brown Clee

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by Di Bryan

Paperback, 144 pages, over 90 illustrations  ISBN 978 1904396 61 1    £9.95

This is a history of the settlement, its interaction with its neighbours and the surrounding landscape of the Clee Hills. From Bronze Age burials, Iron Age forts, important Saxon manors that gave way to Norman and subsequent landed estates through iron working and coal mining, with legal rights being granted in documents as early as the 13th century, and later dhustone quarrying, the background is entwined with the lives of local inhabitants. Many individuals who have played their part in the history of the settlement are included, be they landed gentry or workers at the quarry or on the railway.