Saturday, December 30, 2017

My New Year Resolution: Don't Panic, Be Realistic, Keep Fit

See other 100 year old post cards by "F S"
I am currently making plans for 2018 as I clearly did not get as much done in 2017 as I had hoped. My Must do list is as follows:
  1. Don't Panic - I don't have time to put the world to rights - and if I get depressed about things I can't control I will achieve nothing.
  2. Be realistic - as I am almost 80 and old age has a limiting effect on what can be done.
  3. Keep fit - both mentally and physically so that I am in a position to do what needs to be done

That's it. There is no long list of specific tasks which are awaiting action - as such a list would be so long that I would panic at its size, I would fail by unrealistically trying to take on an impossible work load, and I would make myself too ill to achieve anything useful.

So I intend to relax, enjoy life, and do no more that I can comfortably do ....

Monday, December 18, 2017

Book: A Place in the Country: Three Counties Asylum 1860-1999

I few months ago I mentioned that this book had been published, and having now read and enjoyed it I have published a review on the main web site.

Booklet: Ashridge in World War II

During the Second World War troops were camped in the woods of the Ashridge Estate and a hospital was opened at Ashridge. This little booklet, Ashridge in World War II is based on the memories of people who knew Ashridge during the war and gives details of the regiments that were billeted there. The hospital not only took casualties from Dunkirk but also victims from the German bombing raids. In addition many women from London were taken there just before they were due, and some 3000 births were recorded there between 1940 and 1946.

While this delightful little booklet was published in 2009/10 I noticed that copies were still for sale at the National Trust shop at Ashridge a few months ago. 

More Information about Ashridge

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Booklet: The Story of Harpenden from Village to Town

There are already a good number of books about Harpenden, including booklets produced by the Harpenden & District Local History Society. The recently published booklet by Jean Gardner is an ideal introduction to the history of the town. 

It typically covers the main areas of interest with about a page of text and a small illustration, and there are two good maps.  Topics covered include the coming of the railways, early schooling, John Bennet Lawes and Rothamsted, the growth of the town, the churches, the world wars, and entertainment. It ends with a very useful bibliography. 

If you are just visiting the town, or have just discovered your ancestor came from Harpenden, this booklet will be a good place to start looking into the town's history.

Available from the Society

More about Harpenden

Book: Pitstone Windmill: The Rescue of an Ancient Landmark

Pitstone Windmill is now managed by the National Trust and is of interest because there were many similar post mills in Hertfordshire. David Wray and Roger Hillier's book, Pitstone Windmill, published in 2016, describes the history and restoration of the mill in detail - and also contains an excellent illustrated account of how an ancient post mill worked.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Evacustes Phipson & the origins of Letchworth Garden City

The Cock Inn, St Albans
The previous post, on The Peaceful Path has remined me of Edward Arthur Phipson who is already recorded on my web site as a water colour artist. He went round the country painting pictures of historically interesting buildings in the early 20th century. However he was also a radical socialist who knew Ebenezer Howard and was clearly interested in the foundation of Letchworth Garden City. A few years ago I started to investigate his early history and the following is a brief summary of his very interesting radical past.
E A (Evacustes) Phipson came from a well-to-do Birmingham factory-owning family, and may have been articled to an architect. He became a socialist and had contacts with William Morris. He failed in an attempt to found a socialist colony south of Sydney, Australia, in about 1884. He then became the London agent for Topolobampo, an attempt to establish a socialist community in Mexico. In 1893 he was treasurer of the Nationalization of Labour Society at the time when Ebenezer Howard was one of a committee set up to consider the formation of a co-operative land colony in England. Later the same year he was talking about the possibility of setting up a colony at Champions Farm, Woodham Ferris, near Chelmsford, but this apparently came to nothing. He clearly found Howard's plans for Letchworth not socialist enough, but in 1903 he corresponded with Albert Kinsey Owen and urged the American to offer his services in the building of Letchworth and the following year wrote a letter about the Australian plans for a Federal Capital saying "Having studied for many years the subject of ideal cities, and taken part in the founding of several, from Topolobarapo, on the Gulf of California, to the Garden City now building 60 miles from London ..."  In 1907 he wrote in the February Edition of Garden City comparing Letchworth with the English Fairhope. However it was said that he has spent most of his inheritance on the Australian project and his paintings may well have been to provide additional income, starting in 1894.
Several years ago I started to research this aspect of Evacustes' life and prepare some draft notes with a view to posting much fuller details on my web site, but had a long list of research still to do - particularly in connection with Letchworth Garden City. It is now clear I am unlikely to have time to finish this research and will try and put a tidied up version of my draft notes online sometime next year.

In the meantime if anyone has any information on his links with Letchworth (and perhaps later Welwyn Garden City) I would love to hear from you. In addition I suspect there are a number of his Hertfordshire paintings in private hands and I would love to be able to include details in my draft biography. As he concentrated on painting historic buildings it would be of particular interest if he ever did a painting of Letchworth Garden City.

Book: The Peaceful Path- Building Garden Cities and New Towns

When the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site started the idea was not to cover the more recent history of Hertfordshire - concentrating on the 1901 census and earlier. This automatically excluded any serious look at the history of Letchworth Garden City and the later development of new towns in Hertfordshire. 

Time moves on and the site now covers to the end of the First World War and before the site finally goes into "archive mode" I felt it would be useful to include some links to books which deal with the very significant changes which affected significant parts of Hertfordshire. The book The Peaceful Path, by Stephen V Ward provides an excellent introduction as is strongly recommended. It was published in 2014 by Hertfordshire Publications, and is still available.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sorry for the delays in Book Reviews - they will restart tomorrow.

A41 at Boxmoor, alongside the railway line on the embankment 
When I posted Hertfordshire History Books for Christmas a week ago I had planned to have got seven or eight reviews up by now, but the snow - and some other domestic problems, such as our oven having packed up, meant I have been over tired, with little waking time to spend on the computer.

The original plan was to post some reviews last Saturday, attend a surprise family reunion meal in Surrey on Sunday, with more reviews on Monday.  If we had stuck to the plan we would undoubtedly been one of more than 100 cars trapped on the A41, as shown by the above picture from the Hertfordshire Mercury web site.

However seven years ago we has been trapped on the A41 in a snow storm (a 20 minute drive along the A41 taking about 7 hours) and I was not going to be stuck again. On hearing the weather forecast on Saturday morning we quickly booked a hotel in Surrey - getting there before the snow started - and we only returned once we were sure all the main roads were clear! In fact the reunion  (a 75th birthday party) at "The Rubbing House" by Epsom Racecourse went well