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New books 2018

River Voices:
Extraordinary Stories from the Wye
by Marsha O'Mahony

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A Herefordshire Lore publication
Paperback, 256 pages, 242 x 171 mm
Black & white illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910839-31-7  £10.00

River Voices is filled with stories of the Wye told through the words and photographs of those who have known the river all their lives – ferrymen and ferrywomen, boat builders and bridge builders, rowers and swimmers, anglers and poachers, ghillies and river bailiffs, otter hunters and more.

In the summer of 2017, a team of interviewers travelled up and down the Wye in Herefordshire, recording the experiences of the people who have lived and worked on the river, or simply been drawn to its waters in search of recreation or a jam jar of minnows. Thanks to them, a wealth of memories surfaced, of a much-loved river teeming with often startling tales, and peopled by a rich assortment of characters, many long-gone. Stories, photographs and artefacts have been gathered together and preserved, and the voices of the ‘ordinary’ men and women of the Wye now have their place in the history of the river.

Marsha O’Mahony has worked as a newspaper reporter, is author and contributing writer to a number of books, a blogger, chief researcher and oral historian on a series of documentary film projects and community reporter for BBC Radio Wales. She lives in Herefordshire with her family.

Ethelbert: King & Martyr
Hereford's Patron Saint
Compiled by the Very Reverend Michael Tavinor

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Paperback, 64 pages, 210 x 148 mm
87 colour illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910839-32-4  £5

Hereford Cathedral is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Ethelbert the King.

But who was St Ethelbert? Although not one of the most famous saints, he played a significant role in the development of the church in Mercia. Following his beheading by King Offa in 794, pilgrims flocked to his shrine in Hereford Cathedral, which became a place of healing. Medieval writers elaborated stories of the saint, and although there are no traces of his original shrine, his story lives on and says important things about life and faith today.

Compiled by the Dean of Hereford, the Very Reverend Michael Tavinor, Ethelbert tells the story of our Saint through a wealth of images, a new commentary, a scholarly essay – and a quiz!

Michael Tavinor is Dean of Hereford Cathedral.

Merrily's Border: The Mysterious World of Merrily Watkins – History & Folklore, People & Places (Third Edition)
by Phil Rickman with photos by John Mason

Paperback, 176 pages, 242 x 171 mm
110 colour & 80 black & white illustrations

ISBN:  978-1-910839-30-0  £14.99

What TS Eliot did for Canterbury Cathedral Rickman does for Hereford – Jane Jakeman

 Merrily’s Border explores the real world of Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series. The novels are all set in actual locations – mostly in Herefordshire, but also in Shropshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and over the border into Wales: a region that remains one of Britain’s best-kept secrets. This new and extended edition includes the settings of The House of Susan Lulham, Friends of the Dusk, All of a Winter’s Night and For the Hell of It.

 With their uniquely authentic blend of crime and the paranormal, Phil Rickman’s addictive Merrily Watkins novels, about the diocesan exorcist for Hereford, have virtually established a new fictional genre. But the fiction is never far from an often surprising and sometimes disturbing reality. Revealing the sources and inspiration, Merrily’s Border takes readers into a land where ancient mystery is never far below the surface: the Knights Templar and the Green Man; the secret lore of apples; the lair of the real Hound of the Baskervilles; a pentagram of churches; a serial killer’s dark legacy; the unchronicled links between the composer Edward Elgar and Alfred Watkins, discoverer of ley-lines.


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by Richard Hayman

Paperback, 272 pages, 242 x 171 mm
Over 120 colour & 20 black & white illustrations
ISBN 978-1-906663-66-7  £15.00

The Severn is one of Britain’s great rivers. It has remained a powerful force of nature despite all our efforts to domesticate it and it demands public resources and millions of pounds worth of flood defences to contain.

The Severn has also been a prominent factor in the nation’s history and has a rich heritage that remains under-appreciated. It was on an island in the Severn in 1016 that Cnut and Edmund settled their competing claims to the throne of England, and it was at the Severn that the English formally recognised Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as the Prince of Wales. From the Iron Age to the Second World War, regimes have built fortresses and other defences to ensure their control over the Severn and, throughout the Civil Wars, Royalists and Parliamentarians fought bitterly for possession of it. Other rivers have tidal bores, but none as remarkable as that of the Severn, from which bore-surfing has grown into a global sport.

This book explores the many ways in which the river has become part of our culture, including eating its fish, navigating it, mythologizing it and drowning in it. It is about when and why the river mattered, and why it still matters.

The Bridgnorth Infirmary: Philanthropy, Prejudices & Patients, 1832–1948

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by Gillian Waugh Pead

Paperback, 184 pages + 8 pages plates, 242 x 171 mm
26 colour and 8 black and white illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910839-27-0  £12.95

Today’s Bridgnorth Hospital has its origins in a pre-Victorian infirmary founded in the ancient market town in 1836. The driving force behind this institution was James Milman Coley – Bridgnorthian, doctor and a man with a vision. That vision was for the establishment of an infirmary that would serve the needs of the town and district’s ‘deserving’ sick poor. But even such noble aims are seldom realised without a struggle, and the founding of the Bridgnorth Infirmary was characterised as much by opposition and controversy, politics and conflicts of personality, as it was by the cooperation and benevolence of the community and those with influence.

Based on detailed, original research, this book tells the fascinating story of the infirmary and the characters involved, from its founding in the nineteenth century up to the advent of the National Health Service in 1948. In so doing it presents a microcosm of the many developments that took place nationally in medicine, nursing, hospital design and public health during this period, as well as providing a unique window onto healthcare in a Shropshire market town in the nineteenth century and beyond – on those who were responsible for that care, and those who received it.

Mistress Blanche, Queen Elizabeth I's Confidante (New Edition)
by Ruth Elizabeth Richardson

Pape rback, 224 pages, with 26 colour and 8 black and white illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910839-28-7  £12.95

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Blanche Parry – Chief Gentlewoman of Queen Elizabeth I’s Privy Chamber and Keeper of Her Majesty’s Jewels – was born in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley to a noble family connected, via the Herberts of Raglan, with the House of York. She lived to the great age of 82, and for 56 years was a constant presence in the future Queen's life, from infancy, when Lady Troy was Elizabeth's Lady Mistress, until 31 years into her reign. Blanche was discreet, meticulous, trustworthy, elegant, respected and well-liked; her responsibilities at Court more varied and far-reaching than previously supposed.

This book brings to life the day-to-day realities of Elizabeth’s Household, throwing new light on the Court, with all its hierarchies and intrigues, and revealing the selfless and influential role played for so long by the previously overlooked Blanche. Her family background, upbringing, education and religious influences are explored, together with the effect that Blanche’s views may have had on Elizabeth. The book draws extensively on original documents, many never previously transcribed, including a ‘revelatory’ corpus of bardic poems concerning Blanche’s family.

This revised edition includes the results of recent research on the Bacton altar cloth, proving it to have been part of one of Elizabeth’s dresses – the only known part of more than 1,900 of her dresses to have survived. The motifs and embroidery shed fascinating new light on Elizabeth’s Court. This edition also includes a lost portrait of Elizabeth, rediscovered as a result of the first edition of this book. The whereabouts of another lost portrait, this one of Blanche herself, remain tantalisingly unknown.


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.

Iolo's Revenge: Sheep Farming by Happy Accident in Mid-Wales
by Diana Ashworth, illustrated by Wendy Wigley

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Iolo's Revenge
ack with flaps, 184 pages, with 27 black and white illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910839-24-9  £7.99

‘Jolly, insightful and struck through with a deep affection for her adopted Wales, Iolo’s Revenge is a charming account of one couple’s eventful attempts at home-making in the hills. Peppered throughout with amusing stories and colourful characters, this book presents the joyous world of birthing ewes, pond plug-holes and truncated Welsh that the ‘Retired Lady’ has learned to call her own. An uplifting, thoroughly enjoyable read.’Oliver Balch

‘They'll do! They're the ones I want’, said the old farmhouse, probably in Welsh, and the couple (the ones the old place wanted) were drawn into the life of the place – inspired by its beauty, its creatures, its moods and its stories.In 2005 Diana Ashworth and her husband spotted a dilapidated farmhouse with 25 acres in a rural hamlet in Montgomeryshire, the plan being for a holiday home. They were outbid at the auction, wished the new owners well and thought nothing more of it. But the sale fell through and before they knew it they’d had ‘their offer’ accepted (what offer? – I didn’t know we’d made an offer!) They moved in and were rapidly drawn deeper and deeper into the life of the place and its people, working all hours to make the tumble-down house habitable, and somehow stumbling into hill farming along the way. This is their story. Written with an infectious warmth and humour, Iolo’s Revenge is a hugely engaging account of the couple’s new life in the Welsh borders – a life embarked upon with gusto and generosity, openness and wonder, and interspersed with drama and a great deal of unintended comedy.  


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Ludlow Castle, Its History and Buildings
 edited by Ron Shoesmith & Andy Johnson                          

260 pages. Illustrated
ISBN 978-1-904396-48-2 Paperback £14.95
ISBN 978-1-904396-49-9 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.

The F
olk-lore of Herefordshire
by Ella Mary Leather, with a biography by John Simons

Paperback, 368 pages, with 50 illustrations

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ISBN 978-1-910839-29-4  £12.95

Ella Mary Leather’s The Folk-lore of Herefordshire was first published in 1912 and has been a treasured source of the folklore of the county ever since. Living in Weobley, Mrs Leather gathered much of her material from people in the community she loved and supported, including cottage dwellers, workhouse residents and gypsy families living in the vicinity. She wrote down the songs and carols they sang for her, sometimes in the company of Ralph Vaughan Williams, who would note down the tunes and used some of them in his compositions. Her collection of folklore, which is special to Herefordshire but recognized as being of national importance, includes cures for remedies, local sayings, morris dance tunes and dances, love divinations, and tales of ghosts and fairies.

This facsimile edition includes a biographical portrait of Mrs Leather written by John Simons, who lives in Castle House in Weobley, which used to be the Leather family home. Portraits of Ella were found in the house, along with an album of her photographs – some of which are reproduced here for the first time – and other pieces of information which have helped inform the biography.

Hereford Cathedral School: A History Over 800 Years

by Howard Tomlinson

Hardback, 688 pages, 28 colour and 93 black and white illustrations 

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ISBN 978-1-910839-23-2    £25

A grammar school was probably first attached to Hereford Cathedral in the late 12th century. Over the following 800 years, the Cathedral School overcame the absences of medieval chancellors; was strengthened by new cathedral statutes and the generosity of its early 17th century patrons; weathered the storms of the civil war in the 1640s; prospered during the Restoration period, and became the beneficiary (in the 1680s) of the Duchess of Somerset’s largesse; endured the scandal of headmaster who ran into financial difficulties in the late eighteenth century; avoided closure when numbers fell to single figures in the late 1840s; fought off threats of mergers; was restored during the latter part of the Great War and the depression years; muddled through years of austerity during the Second World War and immediately after; was modernised in the 1950s and 60s; adopted co-education in  the following decade and has flourished as a fully independent school since 2004. How HCS survived such traumas and adapted to these changes form a central theme of this book, which also places the school’s development within the context of its wider community in Hereford and beyond.  It is a rich and complex story of survival and growth of one of Hereford’s oldest living institutions.