The diary of a Cotswold parson, from 1820 to 1852, throws new light on to a fascinating period of English social history. It was just before the railways made travel faster, and we are astonished how well the Reverend F. E. Witts manages to commute from Upper Slaughter to Gloucester on his horse or in his carriage.
He is a shrewd observer and notices how the fashionable world behaves as he passes through Cheltenham, and how the building of the town progresses. For the first time we discover that John Forbes the architect of the beautiful Pittville Pump-room was sentenced for fraud to transportation for life, even though it was subsequently commuted to a few years in prison.
Witts may not savour each unique experience to the same extent as the diarist parson Kilvert did later in the century; but he had far wider and more interesting contacts. His references, for instance, to the widow of Warren Hastings, to Dr Jenner, to the bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps, the philanthropist Samuel Warneford, or to Bishops Monk, enable us to form much more complete pictures of these historical figures. Reading the diary is an enjoyable experience for anyone; but particularly for those who love Gloucestershire.
|234 x 156 mm
|15 November 2015
|53 black-and white and 26 colour illustrations
Eric Armstrong was born in 1923 and raised and educated in Birmingham at Handsworth Grammar School. Having served in the Army from 1942-1947, he graduated from Birmingham University in 1950 and worked at Cadbury for six years in the industrial relations field. Armstrong commenced an academic career at the University of Aston and later became a professor at Manchester Business School. Awarded the OBE in 1988 for services to industrial relations and arbitration, Armstrong has had fifteen books published on the social history of Birmingham.