Four excellent books that provide important insights into different periods and aspects of parish history:
Burrington Parish in World War 1
Price: £5.00 Please contact Jacky (01761 462491) or Mike (01761 462586)
Find out about village life in the early 20th Century, those who served in the Great War and their families, in this illustrated local account.
Schoolboy, Servant, GWR Apprentice: The Memoirs of Alfred Plumley 1880-1892, edited by David Wilkins
Published by The History Press (ISBN: 9780750969932)
Alfred Plumley, son of a coachman, was born in 1874 in Somerset’s Mendip Hills. Written in his old age, this memoir of his youth was discovered in an auction sale. In it, Alfred vividly describes his country childhood and first job as a serving boy at the grand house on the hill above his village. At age 16, Alfred decides to improve his prospects by ‘going on the railway’ and is sent to a tiny village station on the Somerset coast. He quickly comes to love his new life and, undeterred by an unhappy temporary posting to the grim and chaotic engine yards of Bristol, ends up spending forty-five years as a GWR employee. Alfred writes charmingly, and always with the authentic voice of a West Country lad. His memoir has been edited by David Wilkins who adds just the right amount of detail to place the story in its proper historical context.
The Reverend Dr Thomas Sedgwick Whalley and the Queen of Bath:
A True Story of Georgian England at the Time of Jane Austen by Chris Stephens
£9.99 plus postage from Candy Books
Playwright and socialite, toast of William Wilberforce and Marie Antoinette, poet, pamphleteer, traveller and horticulturist, the singular Reverend Doctor Thomas Sedgwick Whalley (1746-1828) lived a life of extravagance, generosity and intellect amongst some of the most influential figures of his day. He had two local residences: Langford Court and Mendip Lodge (demolished in the 1950s).
In this exhaustively researched work, Professor Stephens uncovers the detail about this unusual, influential and wrongly-forgotten figure.
From the Mendip hills to the fields of Napoleonic France, from the school houses of the poor to the meeting rooms of the Bath literati from the gardens of his mansion to the corridors of ecclesiastical influence, follow Whalley's remarkable journey through the scenes of eighteenth and ninteenth-century Europe.
Uncover the extent of his influence, and discover the passions and affections that shaped this extraordinary gentleman, not least his devotion to his beautiful, vivacious and gifted niece Frances, the Queen of Bath herself.
A second book by Chris Stephens (published in March 2020) about Thomas Sedgwick Whalley, sometime local resident, celebrity, and friend of the famous. The title is based on a description of Whalley as 'le bel anglais' by no less than Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI and the last Queen of France.
Drawing from source material including Whalley’s own journals - edited and published by his nephew Hill Wickham in 1863 - as well as his personal correspondence with Anna Seward, Mrs Thrale Piozzi and the actress Sarah Siddons, readers are given an intimate snapshot of Whalley’s life, loves and travels.
During his early life at Wells, Thomas formed a strong bond with his elder sister Elizabeth. After her early death, he dedicated his life to bringing up her nine-year-old daughter, Frances, who would later be known as the ‘Queen of Bath’ before being hurriedly married.
From his early Grand Tour to literary soirees at Royal Crescent, Bath - as described by Fanny Burney - and lazy summers at Mendip Lodge, the ‘maison de plaisance’ he had built above Langford, Thomas enjoyed a lavish lifestyle until his death in France, where he had gone to rescue Frances from penury.