Peter Furtado explores a treat of an English parish history
Littlebury: A Parish History
Edited by Lizzie Sanders and Gillian Williamson
The Parish of Littlebury Millennium Society/History Group 288pp
One of the glories of English history is the hidden riches to be uncovered in almost any town or village. Yet local histories can either be formidably antiquarian or disappointingly slim. This volume, covering an Essex parish close to Saffron Walden, is huge but beautifully presented and intelligently written for any reader. Remarkably, it was put together as a community project by enthusiastic amateurs with little experience in either history or publishing, though this rarely shows in the writing or the presentation.
The coverage ranges from the Stone Age to 1979 (a photo of villagers with a banner reading ‘Thank heavens for the M11’). In the Middle Ages the manor belonged to the diocese of Ely, and after the Reformation to Thomas Sutton, founder of the Charterhouse. But the village was most affected by John Griffin Griffin in the eighteenth century, who remodelled and extended the nearby Audley End estate into the parish. As well as sections on topics such as ‘Weather and Nature Diaries’, or ‘In Sickness and in Health’, the elegant design leaves room for side-bars on individuals or features of the village history which would disrupt the narrative flow of the main text.
I’m looking forward to visiting and discovering some of it for myself.
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