Archive | book RSS feed for this section

Whereabouts Wednesday: Printed Maps of Sussex 1575-1900

8 Dec

The book Printed Maps of Sussex, 1575-1900 by David Kingsley was published by the Sussex Record Society in 1982 and is a catalogue to maps of the county of Sussex, England printed between 1575 and 1900.

The bad news is that this volume is now out of print, but the good news is that as well as being able to find it in second-hand bookshops and libraries, it is also available to view online on the Sussex Record Society website (along with many other useful books and databases).

As the book is essentially just a catalogue there is only a small section of illustrations featuring examples of some of the maps. Due to the limitations of the book format they are not particularly detailed (they can be enlarged on the website), but they do provide a good example of the style of the maps available and level of detail included.

These maps are not the sort of maps that I use a great deal, in general the level of detail is not good enough to be able to pick out individual properties (like you can on some Ordnance Survey maps), but these maps are great for getting an overall picture of the landscape and its development.

Most of these maps show main roads, rivers and settlements, which are great for understanding the landscape and connections of ancestral locations. It is also interesting to see the variations in spelling of place names, which may have changed over the centuries.

The catalogue also serves as a finding aid, providing details of where you can find copies of the 154 maps listed, as well as providing background on the creation of each map and the individuals and businesses involved in the publication.

Something Sussex: A Guide to the Shorehams [and it's vandals]

18 Nov

Whenever I visit a church I usually buy a copy of the church guide if there is one, they usually give a bit of background to the history of the church, its architecture and sometimes its people.

I wouldn’t normally bother with a little guide-book like this, which I discovered in a collectables shop in Eastbourne, East Sussex, on the basis that it is somewhat out of date and rather battered. However because I have ancestors from Shoreham I gave it a second glance, I noticed that the previous owner had actually written his name on it Arthur Harding Norwood and dated it Nov 1898.

What also stood out was that Arthur Harding Norwood had actually scribbled some comments in the guide-book, and that these comments were less than complimentary.

His comments begin on the front cover with the addition of the word VANDAL to name of the author and vicar of Old Shoreham Church the Rev. H. C. Adams, M.A.

We learn the reason for this on page 19, where the guide describes the church at New Shoreham:

Other improvements have been effected of late years. The heavy and unsightly pews have given way to open sittings and chairs, and the whole appearance of the church greatly improved.

At the foot of the page Arthur Harding Norwood has scribbled a note, Are chairs (especially ugly ones) in a church suitable or picturesque?

The guide-book itself begins by describing the situation of the two Shorehams:

The two Shorehams, Old and New, situated on the Sussex coast, half-way between Brighton and Worthing, are places of considerable interest, though no longer of the commercial and naval importance which attached to them some centuries ago. Their decay must be a matter of regret to all connected with them, and the more so because the local advantages, which in the first instance gave them pre-eminence, still exist unimpaired; nor is anything needed but a due employment of capital and enterprise to restore them to their ancient position.

The opening paragraph doesn’t escape Arthur Harding Norwood’s comment, “Capital & enterprise” would never restore Shoreham to it’s “ancient position,” if Shoreham were to be restored it would be converted into a hideous little Liverpool, with factories smoke & filth, the “restoration” began a few years ago with the hideous chemical works. The latest “improvement” being the hateful “Dolphin” Soap Works at Kingston.

The comment above is actually signed and dated (November 1898) but there is another comment, which is dated the 3rd October 1924, “Capital & enterprise” have built a hideous new bridge, in place of the Norfolk. “Enterprise” by the local Council of Vandals, in filling in the grand strips of water above the bridge – with reffuse from Shoreham dustbins, the stench from which is vile.

I would love to know why Arthur Harding Norwood made these comments, and whether they ever went any further than his own copy of the guide-book. I can just imagine him writing letters to The Times or a local newspaper.

I couldn’t help trying to find out who Arthur Harding Norwood was. It turns out that he was a painter, there are references to several of his paintings being sold at auction, but they give no idea of the value they attained (unless I subscribe). I have also found a reference to fact that some of his work was exhibited in London by the Society of British Artists.

From my (virtual) bookshelf: A General view of the agriculture of the county of Sussex

4 Oct

For anyone with ancestors who were farmers or agricultural labourers in Sussex this book makes fascinating reading, and provides a valuable insight into almost every aspect of farm life at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century.

A General view of the agriculture of the county of Sussex is available on Google Books, but I have also seen a relatively recent reprint in second-hand bookshops. It was published in 1808 and written by the Rev. Arthur Young for The Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement.

The book occasionally mentions individual farms or farmers and it is not really a how-to book, but more a general survey of virtually all aspects of farming. An idea of the topics covered can be seen from the list of chapters.

  1. Geographical state and circumstances
  2. State of property
  3. Buildings
  4. Mode of occupation
  5. Implements
  6. Enclosing, fences, gates
  7. Arable land
  8. Grass lands
  9. Orchards
  10. Woods and plantations
  11. Wastes
  12. Improvements
  13. Live stock
  14. Rural economy
  15. Political economy
  16. Obstacles to improvement
  17. Miscellaneous observations

It is fascinating to just dig into sections at random and get an insight into farming life, and there are many unexpected and unusual descriptions such as the section below on opium, which comes under the heading of crops not commonly cultivated:

The largest quantity of this invaluable drug that was ever cured in this country, was raised in 1797 from the Earl of Egremont’s garden at Petworth; and the fact now indeed thoroughly ascertained, that all the foreign opium is highly adulterated, renders it an object of immense consequence to encourage the domestic growth. Mr. Andre is convinced, that in all his practice, he never made use of any of this drug that could be compared with this. The operation of collecting the produce, is effected by a gentle incision on the heads, as they grow, with a knife or other sharp instrument, which is frequently repeated; and the juices which exude from the wound, are scraped into an earthern vessel, dried by the sun, and preserved for use.

I know that farmers are have been encouraged to diversify, but I suspect this might be frowned upon slightly these days. Less controversial, but nonetheless interesting is the description of how lime was obtained for use ‘manuring’ the fields in the eastern part of the county:

As the chalk-hills extend no further than Eastbourne, in order therefore to supply the rest of the county, the chalk is shipped in sloops from Holywell pits at Beachy-head, from whence it is carried to the Bexhill, Hastings, and Rye kilns: here it is burnt into lime, where the farmers come with their teams and take it away at 6d. per bushel. In this trade 16 sloops are considerably employed from April to the month of November. Nine of these belong to Hastings, and seven to the port of Rye. The total quantity consumed at these kilns, for one year, amounts nearly to 633 sloop-loads of chalk, each containing 550 bushels, or about 350,000 bushels.

These are just two examples of the contents of this book, there is quite a large number of tables of figures, and a few illustrations, although many appear to have folded out and they have not been reproduced in the Google Books version, still it is well worth reading if you have an interest in the history of agriculture.

From my bookshelves: Map Addict

14 Jul

Map Addict book cover I have just finished reading the book Map Addict by Mike Parker (published by HarperCollins in 2009) and I must say it is probably the best book I have read this year. I heard the author earlier in the year presenting a series on BBC Radio 4 entitled On the Map, which was enjoyable but disappointingly short. Much of the material from the radio series is also featured in the book, or probably in truth it was the other way round.

I have a strong interest in maps but would not really consider myself to be a map addict (and certainly not to the same extreme as the author), so the subject matter obviously appealed to me, but the book is so wide ranging that you don’t really need to have an obsession with maps and mapping to enjoy it. The style of writing is passionate and engaging, and in some places very personal and funny.

The book covers the origins of the Ordnance Survey, through to the impact of the satnav and internet mapping and many points in between, including how Greenwich became home to the Prime Meridian and the Summer Solstice alignments in the heart of Milton Keynes. The book also describes the many and varied reasons for the creation of maps over the centuries.

It has been a long time since I have found a non-fiction (or fiction) book impossible to put down, but it really was the case with this book. It has made me laugh out loud, as well as making me question my own relationship with maps.

The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton launched

25 Jun

The Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Calder has been an essential reference for Brighton history since it was published in 1990. The text of the original encyclopaedia has now been integrated into the excellent My Brighton and Hove website and now, 20 years later, a fully revised and updated edition has been published by Brighton & Hove Libraries under the title The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton.

Based on the original volume, this edition has been brought up to date by local author Rose Collis, who has also provided many of the new photos for the book. The encyclopaedia contains articles on a huge variety of subjects, reflecting the diverse history of the city of Brighton. You can watch author Rose Collis on the local BBC news discussing the history of three of Brighton’s “attractions” including the Brighton Extra-Mural Cemetery.

There are articles on famous (or infamous) Brighton residents, streets and buildings, tourist attractions, transport, media, shops and pubs, films and television programmes filmed in Brighton. I am sure that there are subjects that aren’t covered, and naturally one volume doesn’t permit an awful lot of detail. Many of the subjects could be, and indeed some are, books in themselves.

Genealogists will probably not find mention of their ancestors, unless they were famous residents, but there is plenty of information about churches, cemeteries, roads, businesses and what they might have done during their spare time, which will no doubt be of interest.

Although my ancestors only had fleeting connections with Brighton, I know I am going to be regularly dipping into this encyclopaedia, either in connection with my family history, or because I see something whilst visiting Brighton that catches my eye and I want to find out more.

If you want a copy and can’t get to Brighton then copies are available on Amazon.co.uk, and probably elsewhere online.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 113 other followers

%d bloggers like this: