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Book Reviews, December 2018

Prestbury Past and Present volume 2, by Norman J. Baker. Published by Prestbury Local History Society, 2017. £10.00.

Prestbury Local History Society has now produced the second in its proposed series of histories of the village. This collection of essays takes its history back to the early development of the village; as with the first volume, it is divided into four sections:

•   An Exploration into the Beginning and Early Development of Prestbury

•   800 Years of Farming

•   Prestbury’s Mills

•   A Brief History of Land Ownership

The author writes that although there have been local archaeological excavations, no evidence has been found of prehistoric occupation of Prestbury but there are indications that farming has occurred locally for over 2000 years. The name of Prestbury, then spelt Preosdabyrig, goes back to 889 when it was written in a charter. The village has formed around the focal points of the moated Manor and Shaw Green, the church and village centre, Noverton and Llanthony Priory and the Burgage, all of which are discussed. The final part of this first section looks at Prestbury’s links with the outside world, through the development of its tracks and roads.

The item on farming is based around Home Farm and looks at its buildings, its fields and the families who occupied it, the Capel family and John de Gamage being the earliest people to live there. Other names discussed are Villar, Johnson, Robinson, Pumphrey, Stephen, Harvey, Chamberlayne, Wiggetts, and Banwell.

The third section looks at the life of Lower Mill which has been in existence for over 600 years and possibly much longer. Throughout my years of research, I have occasionally come across a mention of the Star Chamber but never had cause or inclination to follow up on what was involved. I now know! Mention is made here, and a full description is given in an appendix, of a case brought before the Star Chamber by the Lord of the Manor in a dispute about the provision of water to his manor house. As in each of the sections, the buildings, surroundings and occupants are recorded.

The final part of the book looks at land ownership and covers grants of land, the various enclosures of common and fields and the current situation along with several maps. An appendix illustrates the detail of one particular part of the Enclosure Act, that of Sandfield aka Bereworth Field.

As with volume 1, this is a well-researched book which is indicated by the bibliography at the end. An index is also provided. For those with a particular interest in Prestbury, it is interesting and informative but it could also be read as an example of the history of many an English village. At £10 a copy, the book can be purchased from the Prestbury Post Office or Library or at the Society’s meetings.

Liz Jack

Tewkesbury's Two Forgotten Railways!, by John Dixon. Published by Tewkesbury Historical Society, 2018. 128pp, numerous illustrations, £15. Available from Alison's Bookshop, 138-9 High Street, Tewkesbury GL20 5JR or online on the Society's website.

There cannot be much about Tewkesbury's railways which John Dixon has failed to uncover for this wide-ranging work. It's not just a book about trains, locomotives and stations, for a strength of the book is that they are given a social context. I particularly enjoyed the chapter detailing the lives of some of the people associated with the railway across the years and the community they formed along the Ashchurch Road. John's inimitable style keeps the reader wanting to turn the next page to discover more about this episode of Tewkesbury's history which has left little trace on the ground since final closure over sixty years ago. If there is a criticism, many of the photographs could have been larger but then there wouldn't have been so many. The book is a worthy addition to the publications of the Tewkesbury Historical Society.

David Aldred