Paul Rabbitts FRSA FLI

Author, Parks Historian, Public Speaker


Welcome to my section on books. I started writing back in 2011 after wanting to do for several years. Bandstands was published later that year followed by books on several on the Royal Parks - Regent's Park; Richmond Park; and Hyde Park. I have enjoyed writing them all and especially proud of them. The buzz of seeing yourself in print is amazing and finding one of your books in a bookshop is even better. More books to come? oh yes. I have several others in the pipeline to start thinking about. I still think there is a novel in me somewhere, but keeping that idea secret but a working title called "There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis".

For all my books on Amazon, please follow this link. My Amazon author profile is also here

#1 Bandstands


About this book

Publisher: Shire Publishing

Year: 2011

Bandstands are a distinctive feature of public parks and seaside promenades all over Britain. But what do we actually know about them? Why did they appear in our earliest parks? When were they erected, and who made them? This book explores and provides answers to these questions, showing how the bandstand evolved from the buildings of the early Pleasure Gardens, how they appeared in nearly every public park of the time, how its design was influenced by the great landscape designers, and how a very small number of Scottish foundries cornered the market across the world, from Bradford to Brazil. From parks, seaside resorts and civic spaces, bandstands have appeared and disappeared - but are once again re-appearing, being restored and enjoying a new lease of life. This book, is a timely reminder of an essential component of the British park.


  • Introduction
  • Bandstands in Parks
  • Seafront Bandstands
  • Great Foundries of the ‘Iron Age’
  • Decline and Revival
  • Further Reading
  • Gazetteer
  • Index

#2 Regent's Park - From Tudor Hunting Ground to the Present

Regents Park - From Tudor Hunting Ground to the Present (also available in Paperback)

About this book

Publisher: Amberley Publishing (Hardback and Paperback)

Year: 2013

The Regent's Park has a history stretching back through seven centuries, well before the designer and architectural genius John Nash and his patron the Prince Regent laid it out at the beginning of the nineteenth century as the first of the improvements they had planned for London. The book recounts the story of the park from its origins as a tiny part of the Middlesex Forest to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it became Henry VIII's hunting ground, to its subsequent development in the nineteenth century as London's new West End. This comprehensive history of one of the United Kingdom's most popular outdoor spaces also takes into account the wider history of Britain and its public parks.


  • Introduction
  • Early Days and Rural Pastures
  • Hunting Grounds and the Tudors
  • Growth and Expansion
  • A Royal Partnership: The Prince Regent and John Nash
  • Regent's Park: A Lesson in the Picturesque
  • Nash to Nesfield
  • The Demand for Parks
  • The Twentieth Century: A Park for the People
  • Decline and Revival
  • The Management of a Twenty-First Century Park: the Park Today
  • Primrose Hill
  • Regent's Park: A Literary Park
  • The Nash Legacy: The Liberality of the Genius
  • Index

"A fascinating read" - Toby Musgrave, Garden Historian and Author

A wonderful review from Land Love Magazine too. Land Love Regent's Park Review

#3 London's Royal Parks

London's Royal Parks

About this book

Publisher: Shire Publishing

Year: 2014

London’s royal parks are among its most beautiful and beloved spaces: just as much as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace or St Pancras Station, the mere mention of Hyde or Regent’s Park is enough to evoke the capital in all its glory for residents and tourists alike. They have a grand history – some were royally owned as far back as the Norman conquest, others were acquired by Henry VIII during the Reformation – and since being opened to the public during the eighteenth century, they have hosted some of London’s great events, including the Great Exhibition and innumerable jubilees and celebrations. This book tells the story of all eight of the parks from the point when they were acquired by the monarchy until the present day, including the major historic moments and events with which they are associated.


  • Introduction
  • St James’s Park: A Park of Great Majesty
  • Green Park: A Park of Simple Beauty
  • Hyde Park: A Park for the People
  • Kensington Gardens: A Royal Park with a Royal Palace
  • Regent’s Park: A Royal Partnership
  • Greenwich Park: Birthplace of the Tudors
  • Bushy Park: A Royal Sleeping Beauty
  • Richmond Park: A Medieval Royal Pasture
  • Further Reading
  • Places to Visit
  • Index

Paperback; February 2014; 104 pages; ISBN: 9780747813705’s-Royal-Parks_9780747813705

#4 Richmond Park - From Medieval

Pasture to Royal Park

Richmond Park - From Medieval Pasture to Royal Park (also available in paperback)

About this book

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: 2014 (hardback); 2016 (paperback)

Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London, covering an area of 2,500 acres. From its heights there is an uninterrupted view of St Paul’s Cathedral, 12 miles away.

The royal connections to this park probably go back further than any of the others, beginning with Edward I in the thirteenth century, when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen. The name was changed to Richmond during Henry VII’s reign. In 1625 Charles I brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in London and turned it into a park for red and fallow deer. His decision, in 1637, to enclose the land was not popular with the local residents, but he did allow pedestrians the right of way. To this day the walls remain. In 1847 Pembroke Lodge became the home of the then Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, and was later the childhood home of his grandson, Bertrand Russell.

However, Richmond Park emerges from its historical record as a place that has seen many changes in fabric and detail and yet remains the embodiment of a medieval deer park. It is a palimpsest, retaining subtle clues to each period in its history.


  • Early Days and Pre-enclosure Commons: The Medieval Parks
  • Richmond Park: A Royal Hunting Ground
  • Eighteenth Century Developments
  • The Nineteenth Century
  • A Medieval Park into the Millennium
  • Artefacts and Architecture of Richmond Park
  • The Ecology and Wildlife of Richmond Park
  • Captured in Art
  • The Rangers of Richmond Park
  • Richmond Park Today
  • Index

"Erudite and informative....celebrates the unique appeal of Richmond Park.... its rich and colourful history chronicled here in comprehensive detail." - The Good Book Guide June 2014

#5 Bandstands of Britain

Bandstands of Britain

Publisher: The History Press Ltd

Year: 2014

About this book

Bandstands of Britain is a historical celebration of one of the best-loved features still found in many of our Victorian parks, open spaces, squares and seaside towns. They are a reminder of a forgotten age of outdoor music and theatre. They act as a lingering memory of the class and sophistication that prevailed in the Victorian age. This book celebrates the bandstand in Britain – showcasing the elaborate and iconic pieces of Victorian architecture for what they are. Beautiful full-colour images are accompanied by a potted history of the evolution and devolution of the British bandstand.


Foreword by David Mitchell of Historic Scotland

  • Introduction
  • Scotland
  • England and Wales
  • Gazetteer of UK Bandstands

#6 Cassiobury - The Ancient Seat of the

Earls of Essex

Image Courtesy of Watford Museum

Cassiobury - The Ancient Seat of the Earls of Essex - Paul Rabbitts and Sarah Kerenza Priestley

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: 2014 (hardback); 2017 (Paperback)

About this book

One of the remnants of the great lost estates of the United Kingdom, Cassiobury Park is now the largest park in Hertfordshire and the principal park of its primary town, Watford, covering an area twice the size of Hyde Park in London. But this is no ordinary town park, nor is it a park that stems from the Victorian age. In 1661, Arthur, 2nd Baron Capel, was made the Earl of Essex, and by 1668/69 he had moved to Cassiobury permanently. Celebrated landscape gardener Moses Cook was commissioned here. By 1707, Cassiobury was a significant estate, and Charles Bridgman was employed at Cassiobury in the 1720s. In 1800, the 5th Earl of Essex employed James Wyatt to rebuild the house. Humphrey Repton was employed at Cassiobury and the landscape was captured by J. M. W. Turner in a number of paintings. By 1881, there were many deer in the park, often traded with the royal deer parks at Richmond, Bushy and Windsor Great Park. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the decline was obvious, with large areas of the park sold off to the Watford Borough Council for public parkland. By 1921, the lease was surrendered and in 1927 Cassiobury House was demolished. Much of the remaining land was bought by the council and became further parkland for the ever growing Cassiobury housing estate and expanding Borough of Watford. This book tells the significant story of a remarkable estate, family and parkland and has never been told before.


  • Foreword by Frederick Paul de Vere Capell, the 11th Earl of Essex
  • Introduction
  • The Morisons of Cassiobury
  • Cassiobury and the Capels
  • From Country Estate to Public Park
  • Cassiobury Today
  • Index

#7 Hyde Park - The People's Park

Hyde Park - The People's Park

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: 2015

Hyde Park is a London favourite. You can walk, lie in the grass, play games, take exercise, and engage in sport. It has been a park for mass celebrations since VE Day, for public events including Proms in the Park and Olympic events and has held countless music festivals. There is a truly fascinating history behind the park we know today and the neighbouring Kensington Gardens. Just under 500 years ago Hyde Park began. On 1 July 1536, Henry VIII compelled the Convent of Westminster to hand over land that he then enclosed for hunting purposes. It was not until the reign of Charles I that the people of London were allowed access to Hyde Park. Sold by Parliament in 1652, beset by highwaymen when the village of Kensington became home to much of the aristocracy, partially appropriated by George II to make Kensington Gardens - Hyde Park has a dramatic past. It was, however, the Great Exhibition that was to have the greatest impact on Hyde Park throughout its history. The world came to Hyde Park. As many as 100,000 visitors at a time occupied the Exhibition. It became London's central attraction and remains London's greatest open space and is truly a People's Park and, without a doubt, one of the greatest places to visit in London.

A 25,000 word history on London's greatest park, with over 150 images, old and new, telling its story from its origins as a Tudor hunting ground, seized by Henry VIII to the greatest public park in London, tracing its social history in particular. This will be the first book on Hyde Park since the late 1930s and is now long overdue.


  • Introduction
  • A Royal Hunting Ground
  • A Royal Park for the People
  • The Development of Kensington Gardens
  • Architecture and Artefacts
  • Hyde Park Today

#8 Great British Parks - A Celebration

Great British Parks: A Celebration

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: 2016


Is there anything more enjoyable than whiling away an afternoon strolling around a park? We picnic and party in them and our capital city is 40 per cent green space - so this celebration is long overdue.

Full of stunning pictures that capture the UK’s love affair with a pretty patch of pasture, this brilliant little book showcases everything from carnivals to bandstands and monuments hidden within the gates of some of the loveliest parks in Britain.

Leafing through the pages will make you want to whip out a boater, a walking stick and a ham sandwich - just don’t forget your umbrella.

Daily Mail 29th July 2016


In his latest book Paul Rabbitts too recognises our Victorian benefactors who set the pattern for what has become known and widely loved as the British park. But this is no simple story - encompassing as it does social, economic and political history, sport and recreation, landscape design, architecture, sculpture, the urban environment... and, of course, bandstands.

Paul Rabbitts says his book has two distinct purposes; as the title suggests this is a celebration of all that is great about British parks; but it also contains a stark warning about how parks are currently facing a deep funding crisis and are under threat from loss to redevelopment.

The celebratory aspect is well presented with glorious photography - both archive and contemporary. But throughout the book there is an understanding that parks have an important impact on the communities who use them. Overall this is a thoroughly entertaining and insightful book about the UK's parks.

This book very much started out as a straightforward celebration of Great British Parks and the impact of two incredible initiatives that celebrate 20 years in 2016. The history of the Urban Parks Programme and the Green Flag Award and the histories of our many parks are fascinating, making this in essence a history book. However, as the book progressed and the research deepened, it became clear that whilst there is much to celebrate, there are real concerns that history may be repeating itself and in a way that is concerning. The cliché that the past informs the present and shapes the future has never been more relevant. This book is indeed a celebration but at the same time is a reminder of how public parks came about and the reasons why but also where it all went wrong. It serves as a reminder that we need to remember why we have these wonderful public assets and how they must be protected for the future.

My own interest in public parks goes back many years and stems from an early career as a landscape architect and days of parks projects from the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands to Carlisle in Cumbria, via Middlesbrough, the Scottish Borders, the Isle of Wight and then strangely ending up in Watford, Hertfordshire. Each of these moves involved significant parks projects – Hammond’s Pond in Carlisle, one of the first recipients of a new Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, to Albert Park, Middlesbrough, the essence of a true Victorian park, with a much larger grant to play with, via the Scottish Borders and a welcome grant to restore Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick and finally ending up in Watford, with Cassiobury Park now lucky enough to win a ‘Parks for People’ grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. I have been lucky enough to be involved in some wonderful parks projects and central to most of these has been the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Green Flag Award.

The Heritage Lottery Fund was set up under the National Lottery Act, 1993, to distribute money provided by the National Lottery to the national heritage. Its powers were widened by the National Heritage Act, 1997, and the Lottery Act, 1998, which required the publication of a strategic plan. The work of the HLF complements that of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), which acts as a fund of last resort to defend the most outstanding and important parts of our cultural and natural heritage. The aim of the HLF is:

To improve the quality of life by safeguarding and enhancing the heritage of buildings, objects and the environment, whether man-made or natural, which have been important in the formation of the character and identity of the United Kingdom, in a way which will encourage more sections of society to appreciate and enjoy their heritage and enable them to hand it on in good heart to future generations.

Nineteenth-century urban parks had previously received relatively insignificant sums in grant-aid from English Heritage, in the form of management plans for People's Park, Halifax and Sefton Park in Liverpool, two of the most ‘historic’ of parks. English Heritage and the Countryside Commission (Task Force Trees) had also made grants to a small number of public parks through their storm-damage grant schemes, in the wake of the great storms of 1987 and 1990. The Chairman of the NHMF, Lord Rothschild, and the first chairman of its advisory panel on historic buildings and land, Dame Jennifer Jenkins, together struck upon the idea of grants for urban parks which became the Urban Parks Programme. The HLF set up the Parks Advisory Panel in 1995 to establish outline guidance to applicants and to advise HLF on individual grant application cases.

In April 1996 Dr Stewart Harding was appointed by HLF to manage the Urban Parks Programme. He was seconded for a two-year period from the Countryside Commission, where he had administered the ‘Task Force Trees’ storm-damage grants for the South-West Region. Under Dr Harding, the Countryside Commission’s grant scheme for historic parks and gardens initiated the restoration of more than fifty nationally important (on the English Heritage Register) sites and included the widely acclaimed project the Lost Gardens of Heligan,

The demand and interest in the new programme was phenomenal. The day before the closing date at the end of September 1996, only three applications had been received. On the final day, a further 186 applications arrived (mostly delivered by hand) and together they amounted to park restoration projects to the value of over £300m, seeking grants from HLF of £227 million. Evolving from the Urban Parks Programme to the Public Parks Initiative in 2002 to the Parks for People Programme, the Heritage Lottery Fund has transformed perceptions of urban parks. The catalytic effect of the Urban Parks Programme and subsequent parks initiatives in transforming political perceptions of the value and the needs of urban parks is not easily quantifiable but is evidently significant.

The Urban Parks Programme was a pioneering programme: its scope and the range of sites and projects were unprecedented. In effect, it defined an entirely new area of heritage; it championed places that although still loved by communities, were largely disregarded by those in power. It has widened the constituency of heritage too, channeling funds to communities that would otherwise not have received them, and given millions more people a stake in what is termed the national heritage. So by 2016, the Heritage Lottery Fund will have been the one of the principal presences in securing the future of many of our Great British Parks for 20 years. At the same time, and championing the cause for public parks, in 2016, it will also have been 20 years since the first award was given to a public park for recognizing and rewarding the best green spaces in the country – the Green Flag Award, discussed in greater detail later.

This book therefore has two distinct purposes – firstly, it is very much a celebration of our ‘Great British Parks’ and the immense achievements of the Heritage Lottery Fund in restoring them, the Green Flag Award and the ongoing successes of the many local authorities who manage and maintain them; but secondly, it serves as a stark warning as we reach a crossroads where we may move ‘from renaissance to risk?’ Is history repeating itself? Have lessons not been learnt from the dark days of the 70s and 80s and the immense failure of compulsory competitive tendering and all that went with it as many parks became abandoned? As Hazel Conway writes in her introduction to ‘People’s Parks – The Design and Development of Victorian Parks in Britain’ in 1991, parks were brought into being via many complex factors, which in turn influenced their design and use. This is a very rich subject, involving as it does social, economic and political history, recreation, landscape design, architecture, sculpture and the urban environment. This book tells the story of many of our most important parks and is a reminder of their history, evolution, the efforts to restore them and most of all, their importance to our local communities who use them in their millions… and if your local park isn’t included, it does not mean it isn’t a Great British Park… it may be included in future celebratory books.




North East

  • Albert Park, Middlesbrough
  • Ouseburn Parks, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Mowbray Park and Winter Gardens, Sunderland
  • Saltwell Park, Gateshead

North West

  • Hammond’s Pond, Carlisle
  • Alexandra Park, Oldham
  • Avenham & Miller Parks, Preston
  • Birkenhead Park, Wirral
  • Corporation Park, Blackburn
  • Heaton Park, Manchester
  • Sefton Park, Liverpool
  • Stanley Park, Blackpool
  • Grosvenor Park, Chester
  • Mesnes Park, Wigan

Yorkshire and the Humber

  • Greenhead Park, Huddersfield
  • Lister Park, Bradford
  • People’s Park, Halifax
  • Roberts Park, Saltaire
  • Roundhay Park, Leeds
  • Botanical Gardens, Sheffield

West Midlands

  • Handsworth Park, Birmingham
  • Burslem Park, Stoke on Trent
  • Arboretum, Walsall
  • West Park, Wolverhampton
  • Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge

East Midlands

  • Derby Arboretum, Derby
  • Arboretum & Temple Gardens, Lincoln
  • Nottingham Arboretum, Nottingham


  • Hylands Park, Chelmsford
  • Eaton Park, Norwich
  • Cassiobury Park, Watford


  • Battersea Park
  • Crystal Palace Park
  • Southwark Park
  • Waterlow Park
  • Victoria Park
  • Clissold Park
  • Chiswick House & Gardens
  • Bishops Park and Fulham Palace Grounds

South East

  • Alexandra Park, Hastings
  • Forbury Gardens, Reading
  • Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells

South West

  • Vivary Park, Taunton
  • Borough Gardens, Dorchester
  • Royal Victoria Park, Bath
  • Ashton Park, Bristol


  • Duthie Park, Aberdeen
  • Baxter Park, Dundee
  • Glasgow Green, Glasgow
  • Fountain Gardens, Paisley


  • Bute Park, Cardiff
  • Bedwellty Park, Tredegar
  • Victoria Gardens, Neath
  • Belle Vue Park, Newport
  • Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd
  • Lurgan Public Park, Craigavon
  • Antrim Castle Gardens, Antrim


With funding now secured from Green Flag Award, Veolia, Cleveland Land Services, Ground Control Ltd, Land Use Consultants, LDA Design, The 'Award Winning' Lost Art Ltd, Southern Green Ltd, Watford Borough Council, Archie and Marianne Pitts of Leamington Spa, this book is NOW AVAILABLE, 2016. Published by Amberley Publishing. 288 pages, 300 images, full colour.

#9 Cassiobury Park

The Postcard Collection

Cassiobury Park, Watford - The Postcard Collection (with Sarah Kerenza Priestley)

Publisher - Amberley Publishing

Year: April 2017

Cassiobury Park has an incredible history. Not only is it one of the remnants of the greatest lost estates in the country, Cassiobury Park is now one of the most popular parks in the country and locally is the largest park in Hertfordshire, and the principal park of its primary town, Watford. It covers an impressive area which is twice the size of Hyde Park in London.

In 1661, Arthur Capel, was made the Earl of Essex and in time moved to Cassiobury. The Capels had a major impact on Cassiobury. By 1800, the 5th Earl of Essex employed noted and respected architect James Wyatt to rebuild his house. Successive landscape gardeners were employed here, from Moses Cook to Humphry Repton, with the landscape captured by J. M. W. Turner on visits to Cassiobury. By 1881, the parkland was already well established with fine trees, woodland walks, with many deer in the park, often traded with the royal deer parks at Richmond, Bushy and Windsor Great Park. By the beginning of the twentieth century, decline had set in and large areas of the park had been sold off to Watford Borough Council for public parkland – the beginnings of the public park we know today.

Cassiobury Park - The Postcard Collection takes the reader on an evocative journey into the park’s rich past through a selection of old postcards which offer a fascinating window into its history and continuing development.

#10 British Bandstands

British Bandstands OUT IN MAY 2017

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: 2017

Bandstands have been a feature of the British way of life for well over a century but after the Second World War an increasing number fell into disuse and were neglected. Sadly, many were demolished as public parks and seaside resorts went into a spiral of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. However, in 1997 the Heritage Lottery Fund started investing in our public parks and gardens and this has seen the rediscovery of bandstands which has continues to this day. Former Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Dr Stewart Harding has described them as ‘wonderfully exotic structures that are at once very familiar and also alien in their strange designs - looking like UFOs, Moorish temples, rustic cottages or Chinese pavilions’.

Many have been restored in the last 20 years, over 120 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth, Nairn to Nottingham, Watford to Worcester. These restorations mark a rebirth of the British Bandstand and this is celebrated in this book with imaginative restorations, designs and new usage for one of our most iconic British landmarks – the British bandstand.

#11 Parkitecture - Buildings and

Monuments of Public Parks

Parkitecture - Buildings and Monuments of Public Parks

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: July 2017

Shire have published 2 books on parks (Hazel Conway’s Public Parks and my very own London’s Royal Parks). However, the essence of a great public park is their design and what is contained within. They are the homes to some of the finest buildings in the country and some of the most wonderful features are found within their boundaries. At one extreme we have royal palaces and at the other extreme, park lodges, cafes and lidos. We can include war memorials, bandstands, palm houses, statues, fountains, gates, paddling pools, miniature railways, dinosaurs, observatories, bridges, grottoes, children’s play, boat houses, clock towers, Crimean cannons, sun dials, glass houses, conservatories. The list is endless.

Tis book covers the “parkitecture” of the public park and the design and history of features that make up some of our greatest parks. Many of them have specific histories but are wrapped up in the histories of many of our best loved parks. Many of these features are indeed listed and have stories to tell themselves.

Scope of the book


Brief history of public parks and their development

The design and essence of public parks

  • Buildings (palaces, houses, lodges, pavilions, cafes, palmhouses, boathouses)
  • Monuments and Memorials (war memorials, statues)
  • Entertainment (bandstands, lidos)
  • Landscape (gates, grottoes, fountains, boundaries, sundials, clocks, benches, rockeries)

#12 London's Royal Parks - The

Postcard Collection

London's Royal Park - The Postcard Collection

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: July 2017

The royal parks of London are lands originally owned by the monarchy of the United Kingdom for the recreation (mostly hunting) of the royal family. They are part of the hereditary possessions of the Crown. With increasing urbanisation of London, some of these were preserved as freely accessible open spaces and became public parks with the introduction of the Crown Lands Act 1851. There are today eight parks formally described by this name and they cover almost 2,000 hectares of land in Greater London. Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, Regent’s Park and St James’s Park are the largest green spaces in central London. Bushy Park, Greenwich Park and Richmond Park are in the suburbs. London’s Royal Parks The Postcard Collection takes the reader on an evocative journey into the past of these much-loved green spaces through a selection of old postcards that offer a fascinating window into their history and continuing development.

#13 Bandstands

Pavilions for Music, Leisure and


Bandstands - Pavilions for Music, Leisure and Entertainment

Publisher: Historic England

Year: May 2018

"Great review of the book here"

A number of books have been written on the role of the great Victorian reformers from the early part of the 19th century and the impact of recreation on reform. These books touch on the move from traditional recreation and leisure to the more ordered and attempts at rational recreation. The growth of towns and cities and the subsequent parks movement was at the core of this and activity within them – and more than often involved the role of music and ultimately the bandstand. The bandstand has a history of its own and has barely been covered by except by this author. What this book will cover is however significantly different to the previous books and adopts an academic approach to the subject rather than basic nostalgia focused history. What it does cover is the link to earlier eighteenth and nineteenth-century bandstands with broader histories of popular music in public gardens and parks, two vital sources on this being Lynda Nead’s Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth-century London (2000), David Coke’s Vauxhall Gardens: A History (2011), and Jonathan Conlin’s The Pleasure Garden: From Vauxhall to Coney Island (2012). Many of the earlier Pleasure Gardens such as Vauxhall and Cremorne were centred on music, entertainment, often described as having “Eden-like atmospheres” but were only available to the great and good and who paid to use them. These were however, the first examples of models of public parks and entertainment therein. This book therefore has a number of potential key themes. What it will cover is the following:-

  • The transition from popular recreation to rational “ordered” recreation, the role of the reformers, Temperance Societies, Puritans, Sabbatarians etc and the growth of music in pleasure gardens and parks;
  • The evolution of the bandstand as the creative focus for music in parks – from the essentially private Pleasure Gardens to Public Parks;
  • The growth of seaside towns and dramatic changes in leisure – bandstands by the sea;
  • The art and architecture of the bandstand – rustic to ornate to art deco to brutalist;
  • The great foundries – Saracen to Hill & Smith – where did they all go to? Export and overseas bandstands. The export of bandstands from Britain across the world, more particularly to Britain’s formal and informal imperial colonies;
  • The impact on society of music in parks and the many seaside towns – eg the growth of the Brass band movement;
  • Decline and revival of bandstands (linked to changes in leisure, the impact of new forms of recreation and the subsequent decline of parks and seaside towns); and
  • Public entertainment in parks today. The relevance of the bandstand to a 21st century society.

This will be an important book in my opinion. Why? Books on Victorian leisure cite the importance of parks and seaside towns but then go into little detail of what went on within them, what their impact was, and how they were used, what the social benefits were? It is a gap in knowledge. I have written two books on bandstands and five on parks histories and it is clear that this is an area that needs to be covered. Parks historians such as Hazel Conway, Harriet Jordan, Susan Lasdun all touch on the importance of the parks movement and refer to the advent of the bandstand but do not go into any detail. There is significant archive material in old parks minutes and newspaper reports (eg Jack Donaldson of the Daily Express writing in his Music and Notes Column in 1937). A clear example would also be that we know the London County Council had a Director of Music in their parks to ensure that the appalling standard of music in parks was improved and that the terrible sound of street music was dissipated. Crowds of 40,000+ would turn up for band contests in places like Corporation Park in Blackburn, and crowds of 10,000 were regularly seen in the Arboretum in Lincoln. But there is little detail about their impact on local communities and the bandstands themselves.



London's Royal Parks - Buildings and Monuments

Publisher: TBC

Year: TBC - seeking funding

In 1997, the Royal Parks published a book simply called ‘Buildings and Monuments in the Royal Parks’ and was the outcome of work at the time by Land Use Consultants. It catalogued and in some detail outlined many of the features that make up our greatest public parks – The Royal Parks. This ranged from palaces, grandiose homes, lodges, museums, and galleries to the many memorials and statues, icons of entertainment, facilities to enhance the park visit, to the street furniture that make up the essentials of these great parks. The book was an excellent reference for those who wanted to know a little bit more on what we would now term ‘parkitecture’. What it lacked though, were images of many of these stunning and at times strange artefacts. Many of the descriptions simply did not do the feature justice. How could it. The book was also not very easily available at the time and 20 years later, is now extremely difficult to find and out of print.

In 2017, I published a book called ‘Parkitecture – Buildings and Monuments of Public Parks’ celebrating the essence and ingredients of our public parks nationwide. An immediate issue was how to cover the Royal Parks as anyone who knows them will acknowledge that they are well endowed with ‘parkitecture’ and that such a book would therefore become dominated by them, to the detriment of many parks elsewhere. The answer was to dedicate an entire book to the buildings and monuments of the Royal Parks – what I have called ‘Royal Parkitecture’. Added to this was the need to update the previous version with many new buildings and monuments that have since been introduced that were never covered, as well as in some cases, the loss of features. This book is therefore an up to date celebration of ‘Royal Parkitecture – the Buildings and Monuments of the Royal Parks’.

A number of common themes have evolved throughout the research for this book and indeed throughout history itself. One clear theme is that of ‘controversy’ itself. We live in a world that is now media savvy, our views are often created, affected and shaped by social media and the wider media in general and what appears to be a simple and straightforward issue can become immediately controversial. Yet, throughout the history of the Royal Parks, controversy is a common theme: from the enclosure of many of them as private hunting grounds, to denied or restricted access, to the introduction of the many features we now accept as part of their history – examples include the statue of Achilles and Rima in Hyde Park, now fully accepted; to more recent introductions including the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park and public art features in Kensington Gardens. Today, everyone has a view and what history tells us is that whilst controversial at the time, such introductions generally become accepted as time moves on.

Another common theme is ‘relocations’ – the amount of times that features are moved or relocated, often as a result of either falling out of favour, a casualty of an improvement elsewhere such as a road widening, or simply because the incumbent monarch had a whim. These include most of the bandstands in the Royal Parks but incredibly, include significant structures such as the Marble Arch and Wellington Arch, taken apart bit by bit and re-built entirely in a new location.

A final theme is the timing and period of many of these additions and introductions. Whilst these parks and royal grounds have been shaped by successive monarchs over centuries, it was the Victorians and Edwardians who were primarily responsible for most of the introductions to these Royal Parks. The many statues and memorials proliferated at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century – memorials to great generals, public figures, politicians, world leaders. After the two major world wars, further introductions with memorials to regiments, battalions, the losses suffered continued to proliferate and this tradition continues to this day. Such features are what makes the Royal Parks and their environs incredibly fascinating places to visit and explore and this book details them all with wonderful photographs captured by both professional and amateur photographers alike.

Scope of the book


Brief history of the royal parks and their development

The design and essence of the royal parks

  • Buildings (palaces, houses, lodges, pavilions, cafes, palmhouses, boathouses)
  • Monuments and Memorials (war memorials, statues)
  • Entertainment (bandstands, lidos)
  • Landscape (gates, grottoes, fountains, boundaries, sundials, clocks, benches, rockeries)

For a basic layout and design, please click on the link here which will give you an idea of the format of the book. The example is for the chapter on Green Park. We are actively seeking funding and sponsorship for this book.

# 15 Great Parks, Great Designers

Great Parks, Great Designers

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: November 2017

Much has been written about the history of Victorian life and the industrial revolution and the improvements brought about by the great reformers, including the many improvements to recreation and leisure. Public parks were one such introduction and many were laid out from the 1850s onwards and up until the beginning of the Second World War. Joseph Paxton is the most famous of our park designers, along with J. C. Loudon, James Pennethorne, and Thomas Mawson. We know very little of many of these great park designers, and especially the most notable municipal and borough designers such as Sexby, Sandys Winch and Pettigrew. These individuals designed some of our greatest parks, in our greatest cities – from Victoria Park and Battersea Park in London, to our much admired royal parks, to Heaton Park in Manchester, and the wonderful parks of Norwich, Liverpool, Cardiff and beyond. This book fills in the gaps surrounding these great servants of the public. Included are biographies and histories of Joseph Paxton, James Pennethorne, Edward Milner, John Nash, Decimus Burton, Robert Marnock, William Barron, J. C. Loudon, J. J. Sexby, William Pettigrew, Captain Sandys Winch, John Gibson, and Thomas H. Mawson. This is an essential read for anybody interested in the great designers of our greatest parks.

  • Joseph Paxton
  • James Pennethorne
  • Edward Milner
  • Edward Kemp
  • John Nash
  • Decimus Burton
  • William Barron
  • J.C. Loudon
  • J.J. Sexby
  • William Pettigrew
  • Captain Sandys Winch
  • John Gibson
  • Thomas Mawson
  • Robert Marnock
  • John Nash

# 16 Sir Christopher Wren

Sir Christopher Wren

Publisher: Shire Publishing

Date: February 2019

Wren was an English scientist and mathematician and one of Britain's most distinguished architects, best known for the design of many London churches, including St Paul's Cathedral.

Christopher Wren was born on 20 October 1632 in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, where his father was rector. His father later moved to Windsor and Wren was educated at Westminster School and then Oxford University. He showed an early talent for mathematics and enjoyed inventing things, including an instrument for writing in the dark and a pneumatic machine. In 1657, Wren was appointed professor of astronomy at Gresham College in London and four years later, professor of astronomy at Oxford. In 1662, he was one of the founding members of the Royal Society, along with other mathematicians, scientists and scholars, many of whom were his friends.

Wren's interest in architecture developed from his study of physics and engineering. In 1664 and 1665, Wren was commissioned to design the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford and a chapel for Pembroke College, Cambridge and from then on, architecture was his main focus. In 1665, Wren visited Paris, where he was strongly influenced by French and Italian baroque styles.

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the medieval city, providing a huge opportunity for Wren. He produced ambitious plans for rebuilding the whole area but they were rejected, partly because property owners insisted on keeping the sites of their destroyed buildings. Wren did design 51 new city churches, as well as the new St Paul's Cathedral. In 1669, he was appointed surveyor of the royal works which effectively gave him control of all government building in the country. He was knighted in 1673.

In 1675, Wren was commissioned to design the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. In 1682, he received another royal commission, to design a hospital in Chelsea for retired soldiers, and in 1696 a hospital for sailors in Greenwich. Other buildings include Trinity College Library in Cambridge (1677 - 1692), and the facade of Hampton Court Palace (1689 - 1694). Wren often worked with the same team of craftsmen, including master plasterer John Groves and wood carver Grinling Gibbons

Wren died on 25 February 1723. His gravestone in St Paul's Cathedral features the Latin inscription which translates as: 'If you seek his memorial, look about you.'

#17 Decimus Burton

Decimus Burton

Publisher: Liverpool University Press / Historic England

Date: Summer 2019

Decimus Burton (30 September 1800 – 14 December 1881) was a prolific English architect and garden designer and a protegé of John Nash. He is particularly associated with projects in the classical style in London parks such as Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, including buildings at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and London Zoo, and with the layout and architecture of the seaside towns of Fleetwood and St Leonards-on-Sea, and the spa town of Tunbridge Wells. But what do we know about him? In essence, very little. Often overshadowed by architects of the time such as Pugin, Nash, Soane and Wyatt, his imprint on London alone is hardly recognised. The dictionary of National Biography describes him as follows:-

“BURTON, DECIMUS (1800–1881), architect, was the son of James Burton, a well-known and successful builder in London in the beginning of the present century. After receiving a thorough practical training in the office of his father and in that of Mr. George Maddox, he began business as an architect on his own account, and met with early and signal success in the practice of his profession. Among his first large works was the Colosseum erected by Mr. Homer in Regent's Park as a panorama and place of public entertainment. As such it proved a failure, and its site is now occupied by the terrace of private residences known as Cambridge Gate, a much more lucrative investment. But from the architectural point of view it was regarded as a successful example of the then fashionable classic style, and its dome, a few feet larger than that of St. Paul's, was looked upon as a remarkable constructive effort, especially for an architect at the time only twenty-three years old. In 1825 Burton was employed by the government to carry out the Hyde Park improvements, which included the laying out of the roads in and around the park and the erection of the fa$ade and triumphal arch at Hyde Park Corner. In Burton's design the arch was destined to support a quadriga, and the disfigurement of the structure by the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, which elicited from a French officer the cutting ejaculation, 'Nous sommes vengés!' was a keen disappointment to him. For many years after its erection, indeed, Burton's will provided to the nation the sum of 2,000l. if it would agree to remove the statue from its unsuitable position. He eventually withdrew the legacy, without, however, relinquishing the hope of the ultimate removal of the statue to a suitable pedestal of its own, and the completion of his design, with the bas-reliefs and triumphal car which it originally included. (The statue was moved to Aldershot in 1885.)

In 1828 Burton accepted a special retainer from Mr. Ward of Tunbridge Wells, for the laying out of the Calverley Park estate there, and but for this engrossing employment, which occupied his time for over twenty years, his public works would no doubt have been more numerous and important. His practice afterwards, however, lay chiefly in the erection of country houses and villas and the laying out of estates for building purposes. The numerous mansions and villas designed by him are distinguished by suitability of internal arrangement and simplicity and purity of style, and many thriving localities in some of the chief towns of the country still evidence his skill in the laying out of building estates. In his day Greek was the fashionable, and indeed almost only, style, and in that he worked; but he used it with effect and judgment, never sacrificing the requirements of modern life to mere archaeological accuracy. And although many of his designs may appear, and sometimes are, antiquated and unsuitable revivals of ancient buildings, it must be remembered that most of them date from before the Gothic, or indeed any, revival of architecture as now understood and practised. Judged by the standard of his time, no little credit is due to him for honest and independent regard for the practical objects of his profession. He was a traveller when travelling was the exception, visiting and studying the classic remains of Italy and Greece, and later extending his observations to Canada and the United States of America. He was a man of wide culture and refinement, amiable and considerate to all with whom he came in contact, and had a wide circle of friends. He was proprietor of a pleasant bachelor residence at St. Leonards-on-Sea, a watering-place which his father had almost entirely built, and where he spent the greater part of the later years of his life. He died, 14 Dec. 1881, unmarried, at the advanced age of eighty-one. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, and of many other learned societies, including the Royal Institute of British Architects, of which he was one of the earliest members and at one-time vice-president.”

There are significant biographies on Nash, Soane and Wyatt, but if one was to seek out any authorative narrative of any depth on Decimus Burton, one would be disappointed. The objective of this book is to correct this gap with a significant illustrated book on London’s forgotten architect – Decimus Burton.

#18 Leighton Buzzard in 50 Buildings

Leighton Buzzard in 50 Buildings

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: March 2019

Leighton Buzzard is a thriving market town with over 40,000 residents and has been identified as an area of further significant growth. It is already the largest town in Central Bedfordshire but growth has had a major impact on the town. New estates are growing and periphery shopping options are being developed. Traffic is the single biggest issue in the town as the infrastructure struggles to cope with such rapid growth. But there are positive benefits with unemployment negligible, crime rates low and many opportunities in the town centre with its still flourishing market, growing number of restaurants and what seems to be a weekly addition to the number of hair salons. Among it all, the town retains much of its Gothic, Georgian, Greek, Italianate, Rustic, and Victorian architecture while the town embraces new and more contemporary buildings to serve its growing population. This book celebrates some of its wonderful architecture - from All Saints Church to the former police station where Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs was held to new architecture that is now modernising the town.

"An excellent book giving quirky history of 50 Buzzard Buildings. It does what it says on the cover" Amazon review 27 May 2019

#19 Watford in 50 Buildings

Watford in 50 Buildings (with Peter Jeffree)

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: September 15th 2019

John Britton in 1806 describes Watford as ‘a large, populous and busy town; the houses are principally brick; many of them are respectable handsome buildings; they principally range on the sides of the high road.’ A further description of Watford just before the railway age was written by Eustace Conder, whose father lived at Watford Field House from 1824 to 1839.

‘As the town lay several miles off the Great North Road, there was no great amount of traffic passing through. Two or three London coaches on their way to Chesham, Hampstead or some other town further down the country, were the modest substitute for long railway trains, with their two or three hundred passengers. A few lumbering carriers’ and representing the goods trains of later and more impatient times. Every night, the mail coach, with its flaring eyes and red-coated guard, made the quiet streets echo with its horn, picked up, perhaps, its one passenger, and excited mysterious feelings of respect and wonder in the minds of little boys. All round the dear, dull, quiet little town lay the still more quiet country. Two minutes would bring you into it; on the one side across the little river Colne, into green low-lying meadows, which the artificially raised banks do not keep the stream from overflowing for miles after heavy rains; on the other, through the lime-shaded churchyard, out among cornfields and homesteads, and shady lanes; or over stiles and through footpaths, to where the deer browse amongst the spreading limes and beeches, or hide in the thickets of tall fern, in Cassiobury Park.’

By 1891, Watford was described as ‘quietly reposing in the lap of fairest England… bathe by sweet waters of the Colne, embowered in parks and woods, fertile and beautiful; … its climate so genial and healthful as to make existence a delight; … such is the Watford of today, grown out of a simple country town, into a large and thriving community, of some twenty thousand inhabitants.’

Forty years later, one of the most thorough historical books written about Watford was by W.R. Saunders, simply called ‘History of Watford’ originally published in 1931. Its introduction describes the ‘thousands who have made their homes in the town within the last few years… and those older residents who have watched the growth of Watford from a small country town to a borough of over 56,000 inhabitants.’ He goes on to say that his book ‘disproves the statement sometimes made that “Watford has no history”. Updated in 1969, by A.W. Ball, he reminds readers of Saunders’ book that they will ‘no longer remember the places described and the personalities discussed, but as they go about the town, they will be reminded by the façade of a building here or the twists and turns of a road there, that all progress is built on the efforts of the past’.

All descriptions are apt for their time but Watford since the Second World War has been constantly renewing itself. The Watford of today has a distinct identity, standing alone from rural Hertfordshire, different from many of the other towns in the county as well as being entirely separate from London. Its history goes back centuries and although, not mentioned in the Domesday Book, the Manor of Cashio certainly was. Cassiobury has dominated Watford for many centuries and up to a point, it still does, but very differently today.

And so we come to this book. This is not a history of Watford. There have been many books on this, most recently in 2015 Mary Forsyth’s, ‘Watford – A History’, an excellent and recent straightforward history of the town and its people. This book is a celebration of its buildings and its architecture and clearly, this involves the re-telling of some of its history. Daniel Defoe described Watford as ‘the town is very long, having but one street. A genteel market town’ and many of its buildings reflect this. From the earliest buildings of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Watford has evolved into a thriving, bustling town that still retains its market and has developed in many cases through its buildings, including places of entertainment that have come and gone, such as cinemas, theatres, public houses, to those that have replaced them, such as the football ground, the Colosseum and our leisure centres. The changes in buildings reflect the changes in our town. It is hoped that this book reflects those changes in a positive light, whether simply through nostalgia or an acknowledgement that change is inevitable.

#20 Manchester in 50 Buildings

Manchester in 50 Buildings (with Deborah Woodman)

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: November 15th 2019

From its status as the world's first industrialized city, through late 20th-century decline and subsequent regeneration and rebirth as 'Second City of the UK', Manchester has a proud and distinctive identity. This extraordinary history is embodied in the buildings that have shaped the city. Manchester in 50 Buildings explores the history of this rich and vibrant urban centre through a selection of its greatest architectural treasures. From Victorian classics such as the neo-Gothic Town Hall to the striking new additions to the city's skyline, such as Beetham Tower, this unique study celebrates the city's architectural heritage in a new and accessible way. Authors Deborah Woodman and Paul Rabbitts guide the reader on a tour of the city’s historic buildings and modern architectural marvels.

#21 Luton in 50 Buildings

Luton in 50 Buildings

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: February 15th 2020

The buildings of Luton reflect its long and fascinating industry and retains many historic buildings but many industrial connections, especially with engineering, hat-making and the airport. At the same time, it explores the significant influence of migration to the town and the impact on buildings and culture here. The book reflects this legacy of building and its continued expansion with modern architecture shaping the town today.

#22 Windsor & Eton in 50 Buildings

Windsor & Eton in 50 Buildings (with Rob Ickinger)

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: November 15th 2019

Today, millions of tourists from around the world are drawn to Windsor by its magnificent castle, dating from the eleventh century, and its wealth of royal history. Although the castle is at the heart of the town, this book reveals there are many more notable architectural gems - both ancient and modern - to be discovered there. For the visitors who come to Windsor, many will venture across its nineteenth-century bridge to explore its smaller neighbouring town of Eton, famous for its College, on the opposite side of the River Thames.

In ‘Windsor and Eton in 50 Buildings’, authors Paul Rabbitts and Rob Ickinger takes readers on an engaging tour to discover 50 buildings and landmarks that capture the immense heritage of the towns, and to show how they have developed across the centuries. Among the places featured are Windsor’s Guildhall, the charming seventeenth-century Crooked House, together with the modern Art Gallery and waterfront apartments.

As you would expect for towns in a riverside location, bridges and boathouses are also included. Many of those places featured are of Grade One or Grade Two* listed status, which combine to provide an enriching historical and architectural portrait of two of Berkshire’s favourite towns.

#23 Salford in 50 Buildings

Salford in 50 Buildings (with Carole O' Reilly)

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: November 15th 2019

In 2018 the city of Salford is a very different city. It covers 37 square miles and is made up of five districts: Salford, Eccles, Worsley, Irlam and Cadishead, and Swinton and Pendlebury. Some 220,000 people are proud to call Salford their home and is a city constantly changing and moving into an exciting future as a thriving cultural, economic and residential location. From urban buzz to greenbelt tranquility, Salford is building on the mixture of its waterfront, urban and countryside environments to create places where people want to live, work, invest and visit. Its more modern buildings reflect this change with iconic buildings appearing such as the Lowry Theatre and the Salford Quays. The city celebrates its Victorian heritage as well as embraces the future with stunning new architecture - all celebrated in this new book.

#24 Grinling Gibbons - Master Carver

Grinling Gibbons

Publisher: Shire Publishing

Date: May 2020

Grinling Gibbons has often been called the ‘British Bernini’. This Baroque artist shared with the great Italian an ability to breathe life into still material. Carefully carved cascades of fruit and flowers, faces of cherubs with puffed out cheeks, crowds of figures and flourishes of architecture – a tumultuous world of pure energy and animation tumbles from the hands of Gibbons to grace stately homes and royal palaces across the country. Where Bernini worked with marble, however, Gibbons was a wood-carver. Because we've forgotten the long history of sculpture in wood, this tends to get him described as a craftsman. A more apt description however would be the ‘Michelangelo of Wood’. Gibbons work includes St Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, the Sir John Soane’s Museum, V&A to name just a few. From journeyman born in Rotterdam to king’s carver this book celebrates Grinling Gibbons’ unequalled talent, his visionary genius, and his ability to transform the medium of wood into something magical. It explores his development to becoming the country’s most celebrated master-carver, working for the king himself.

#25 Bournemouth in 50 Buildings

Bournemouth in 50 Buildings (with Liz Gordon)

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: Spring 2020

Until the early nineteenth century, the area in which Bournemouth now stands was just heathland where cattle grazed. In 1810, Lewis Tregonwell - regarded as the first inhabitant and founder of Bournemouth - visited the beach with his wife. She loved the area and persuaded him to build a house there. He purchased 8½ acres and built a house with cottages for his butler and gardener. Tregonwell later bought more land in the area and landowners planted pines on the heath, but there was no settlement at Bournemouth until 1837.

At the end of the eighteenth century, spending time at the seaside became very popular among the rich and middle classes. Many new resorts were built including Brighton, Eastbourne and Bognor Regis. In 1836, Sir George Tapps-Gervis decided to create a seaside resort at Bournemouth. He appointed an architect from Christchurch called Ben Ferrey to design it. Villas were built for families to hire during the summer.

Tourism remains an important industry in Bournemouth and in recent years has been complemented by the rise of other sectors such as finance, insurance and digital industries. Bournemouth is a prosperous town with a wealth of accommodation facilities, visitor attractions, bars and restaurants. Its population stands at 197,700. Its current status is reflected in its remaining Victorian and Edwardian architecture but its progressive attitude is also seen in the many modern buildings that have been erected serving the tourist industry and its growing reputation as a centre for learning and finance.

#26 People's Parks - The Design and Development of Victorian Parks in


People's Parks - The Design and Development of Victorian Parks in Britain

Author: Hazel Conway; Edited by Paul Rabbitts

Publisher: TBC

Date: 2021

This book was originally published in 1991 by Cambridge University Press, written by Dr Hazel Conway, and identifies the main national and international influences on the development of municipal and other public parks in nineteenth-century Britain, relating these influences to the design and use of parks and clarifying the significance of the achievement. Municipal parks made an important contribution to the urban environment, developing within a social, economic and political context which profoundly affected people's attitudes towards recreation. The promoters of parks wanted them to facilitate education and entertainment, and they reflected this in their design, buildings, statues, bandstands and planting. Towards the end of the century, disused inner-city burial grounds were transformed into the open space much needed for public recreation. There are detailed sections on park development, design and use, a summary of main relevant legislation, and a chronological gazetteer of the earliest municipal and other public parks, with details of their size and how they were created and the name of their designer. The book is fully illustrated with contemporary plans, photographs and lithographs.

This book is now out of date and impossible to get hold of. Since the sad passing of Hazel in December 2017, the time has come to update this iconic and milestone book and the wonderful Zara Conway, Hazel's daughter is supporting this venture. I considered how best to do this and looked at a new book from scratch or a re-write of Hazel's book but updated and edited by myself. The latter was preferred primarily because Hazel's book cannot be bettered. Very excited by this one.

#27 Salisbury in 50 Buildings

Salisbury in 50 Buildings

Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Liz Gordon

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2020

The story of Salisbury began 2,500 years ago when an iron age fort was built on Salisbury Hill about 2 miles north of the modern town centre. In the sixth century AD, the Saxons invaded Wiltshire. In 552, Saxons and Celts fought a battle at Salisbury Hill. The Celts were defeated and fled westwards. The fort probably lay abandoned for centuries. However, by the early eleventh century, a settlement had grown up on the site of the old fort. In 1003, the Vikings raided Wilton and some of the survivors may have fled to the safety of Salisbury Hill where they founded a new settlement. The new town had a mint and a market.

About 1069, William the Conqueror built a wooden castle to overlook the settlement and keep the inhabitants in line. In 1075, a Bishop moved his seat there. However, Sarisberie, as it was called, was a small settlement, much smaller than nearby Wilton. It probably only had a population of a few hundred.

The modern town of Salisbury began about the year 1217 when the Bishop decided to move his seat to land owned by the church south of the hill. Perhaps there was friction between the clergy and the soldiers in the Norman castle. A shortage of water on the hill may have been another reason for the move. He created a new town on the plain. The Bishop laid out streets in a grid pattern and leased plots of land for building houses. So, a new settlement grew up at Salisbury but the town at Old Sarum continued for centuries.

The new town of Salisbury was given a charter in 1227 (a charter was a document granting the townspeople certain rights). By 1219, Salisbury had a market and an annual fair. In the Middle Ages, fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year. People would come from all over Wiltshire to buy and sell at a Salisbury fair.

Medieval Salisbury was very successful. This was partly because it was on the road from Wilton to Southampton. It was also on the road from London to Exeter. In 1244, a stone bridge was built across the Avon, which increased the traffic flowing through Salisbury. Obviously, travellers would stop at Salisbury and spend money in the town.

However, the main industry in Medieval Salisbury was making wool cloth. The wool was woven and then fulled. Before it was dyed the wool was beaten in a mixture of water and clay to clean and thicken it. This was called fulling. Wooden hammers worked by watermills beat the wool.

Much of this wool was exported through Southampton. By the fifteenth century, Salisbury grew to be one of the largest towns in England with a population of perhaps 8,000.

Work on Salisbury Cathedral began in 1220 and continued until 1258. The tower and spire were added in 1334. The Bishops Palace was also built in the thirteenth century. Then, in 1269, Salisbury was divided into 3 parishes.

Meanwhile, in the thirteenth century, the friars arrived in Salisbury. The friars were like monks but instead of withdrawing from the world, they went out to preach. In Salisbury, there were 2 orders of friars; the Franciscans (called grey friars because of their grey costumes) and the Dominicans (known as black friars). In the late fourteenth century, the Hospital of the Holy Trinity was founded where monks cared for the sick and poor as best they could.

In 1538, Henry VIII closed the friaries in Salisbury. However, the two 'hospitals' continued to function.

During the seventeenth century, the wool industry in Salisbury slowly declined. The population of the town also declined slightly to about 7,000. Salisbury was a large and important town in the Middle Ages but by 1700, it had dwindled into a medium-sized market town. On the other hand, in 1612, Salisbury was given a new charter. This one made the town completely independent of the Bishop.

Like all towns in those days, Salisbury suffered from outbreaks of the Plague. It struck in 1563, 1604 and 1627.

In 1642 came civil war between King and parliament. For two years, Salisbury escaped the fighting then in October 1644, a royalist army occupied the town. In December 1644, a parliamentary army attacked Salisbury and quickly defeated the royalists taking many of them prisoner. However, in January 1645 another royalist army attacked Salisbury. They drove out the parliamentary troops. Salisbury remained in royalist hands until January 1646. By then the King was losing the war and he withdrew his troops from Salisbury as they were needed elsewhere.

The civil war ended in 1646 but in 1655, a royalist uprising took place. Not many men from Salisbury were willing to join the revolt. The uprising was soon crushed and seven rebels were hanged in Salisbury. Others were transported to the West Indies.

The Joiners Hall was built in the sixteenth century. Matrons College for the widows of clergymen was built by Bishop Seth Ward in 1685.

One of Salisbury's famous buildings, Mompesson House, was built in 1701 for Charles Mompesson, a merchant.

However, during the eighteenth century, Salisbury remained a market town of only local importance. Cloth manufacture was still the main industry in Salisbury but it continued to gradually decline. Furthermore, Salisbury suffered outbreaks of smallpox in 1723 and in 1752.

Yet there were some improvements in Georgian Salisbury. Salisbury gained its first newspaper in 1715. Then in 1737, an Act of Parliament formed a body of men with powers to pave, clean and light the streets of Salisbury with oil lamps. They also appointed a force of night watchmen. An infirmary was built in Salisbury in 1774 and a theatre was built in 1777.

In 1801 Salisbury had a population of 7,668. By the standards of the time it was a fair-sized town. However, Salisbury grew little in the early nineteenth century and had a population of less than 9,500 in 1851. In the late nineteenth century, the population grew more rapidly. It reached 17,000 by 1901.

In the nineteenth century, the industrial revolution transformed Britain but it largely passed Salisbury by. Salisbury remained a market town and the old cloth industry died out altogether.

However, there were some improvements in Salisbury during the 19th century. In 1833, Salisbury gained gas street lighting and in 1836, a modern police force was created in the town. Then in 1847 the railway arrived.

However, in 1849 Salisbury suffered a severe outbreak of cholera and 192 people died. Afterwards, in the 1850s, sewers were dug under the town and a piped water supply was created. Salisbury Museum was founded in 1860. In 1892, a public swimming pool opened.

The original settlement at Salisbury was on a hill north of the town. By the early nineteenth century, it had dwindled to almost nothing. It became a 'rotten borough' where 10 voters elected 2 MPs! This situation was finally ended in 1832. Then in 1882, Old Sarum was finally extinguished when it became a public park.

In the twentieth century, Salisbury continued to grow quite rapidly but it remained an agricultural town. Today, one of the main industries in Salisbury is tourism.

The first cinema in Salisbury opened in 1908. Then in the 1920s and 1930s, the first council houses were built. Some of them were needed to replace demolished slums. More council houses were built in Salisbury after 1945.

Old George Mall opened in 1968. A new library opened in Salisbury in 1975. A new swimming pool opened in 1976. The Redcoats in The Wardrobe Museum opened in 1982. The Maltings Shopping Centre opened in 1986. Wilton Shopping Village opened in 1998.

In the 21st century, Salisbury is a thriving market town. Today the population of Salisbury is 40,000.

#28 Historic England: Bedfordshire

Historic England: Bedfordshire

Authors: Paul Rabbitts

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2020

BEDFORDSHIRE is an inland county of England, bounded on the north-east by Huntingdonshire, on the east by Cambridgeshire, on the south-east and south by Hertfordshire, and on the west by Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. It is one of the smallest counties in England yet has much packed into its borders, from the industrial towns of Bedford, Luton, and Dunstable as well as the smaller rural towns of Leighton Buzzard, Ampthill and Biggleswade. Bedfordshire is also a county of wonderful history – from great churches, significant estates such as Woburn, Luton Hoo and Wrest, a changing rural and industrial landscape, scarred by clay and sand extraction to wonderful landscapes of the Greensand Ridge, and the Grand Union Canal. The larger towns of Luton and Bedford have dominated the county for decades, with airports, hat making, car manufacturing and education all dominating. Today, Bedfordshire is becoming more popular as transport links to London improve and those seeking better value move out of the capital to counties like Bedfordshire.



#29 Welwyn and Welwyn Garden City

in 50 Buildings

Welwyn and Welwyn Garden City in 50 Buildings

Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Peter Jeffree

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2020

Most people move to Welwyn Garden City because they like it but very few realise why they like it. The reason is very much down to the vision of one man, Ebenezer Howard, and its interpretation and realization by a young French Canadian architect, Louis de Soissons.

The ideas for the garden city grew up during the late 19th century and were based around the idea that densely built-up towns and the countryside both had advantages and disadvantages. Howard’s idea (he was founder of the garden city movement) was to combine the advantages of both in a pleasant, co-operative egalitarian environment. This was encapsulated in his book of 1898 To-Morrow – A Peaceful Path to Real Reform.

One of the key themes of the garden city ideal was self-containment: providing jobs, services, leisure facilities and housing all within one town in a high quality, green and open setting. This has some parallels with modern ideas about sustainable development in the sense that providing a mixture of land uses in close proximity reduces the need to travel.

The town’s historic significance in the field of town and social planning is global, attracting study and visits from tourists and representatives of civic organisations from abroad to visit. Its success led directly to the creation of other new towns such as Harlow, Stevenage and Milton Keynes in the UK. It is often held up as the best example of civilised, sustainable new settlements and a model for others to follow.

By choosing the young architect de Soissons, Howard and his fellow directors had ensured the success of the town’s development. Louis de Soissons was barely thirty when appointed as architect and town planner in April 1920. He submitted his masterplan for Welwyn Garden City less than two months later, and it is this plan that over the years has been modified here and there, but has remained the essential backbone for its future development. It remains one of only two garden cities in the UK.

Louis de Soissons chose a red brick Neo-Georgian style for his building design and was keen to conserve as many hedgerows and trees as possible, exploiting the landscape to its fullest extent. But he truly excelled as a street designer and there is no doubt that his finished plan is a masterpiece of town planning. It is still regarded so some ninety years later. In planning terms its significance is global. It is featured in most – probably all – university architectural and urban design courses around the world.

Welwyn Garden City was designated as a New Town shortly after the end of World War II and the fact that its original designer, Louis de Soissons, was in charge of its development from its inception until his death in 1962, was able to maintain its unique status.

However, the ability to maintain its unique status has become more difficult over the years. It remains one of a number of Section 19 towns. This includes Letchworth Garden City, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Bourneville, Port Sunlight and Poundbury but Welwyn Garden City remains unique in being the only Section 19 town not to be controlled by an independent trust.

The fact that a trust was not set up at the dissolution of the Commission for the New Towns was probably a grave mistake. The role of a trust for Welwyn Garden City is essentially born by the local authority planning department which it administers through an Estate Management Scheme – an almost impossible task due to its own conflicting interest as a planning authority.

The uniqueness of the town within the borough has been somewhat compromised over the last few decades but it is hoped that this issue has been recently addressed by the Council re-launching the Estate Management Scheme.

Architecturally, although much of Welwyn Garden City is Neo-Georgian, it is a very simple, pared down Neo-Georgian version, free of too many features and, therefore, eminently suitable for the twentieth century. Although Neo-Georgian revival architecture was not uncommon elsewhere during the 1920s and 30s, the planned, singularly controlled concentration here is unique. On the whole, individual buildings of all styles, public and private, form a collection of the finest domestic architecture of the early twentieth century that is of the highest significance, defining the character of the garden city and vital to its integrity.

Ebenezer Howard’s vision of a Garden City was one that would combine the benefits of living in a town with those of living in the country. It would be a place in which people would both live and work in beautiful surroundings; in a city that would be not only a “city in a garden”, but also a “city of gardens”: an example of good civic design and architectural harmony.

The town is now very much bigger, and many residents commute to London and elsewhere. These and other social changes, particularly the car becoming the main means of transport and the growth of supermarkets, chain stores and multi-national industrial combines, mean that Ebenezer Howard’s original vision has had to adapt to the demands of modern living.

The use of space is generous by modern day standards, there are large verges between roadway and pavements. Trees are planted in abundance; there are both grand vistas in the formal part of the town that give way, seemingly effortlessly, to intimate domestic architecture. The latter representing one of the finest collections of English domestic architecture of the early 20th century.

#30 Hertford in 50 Buildings

Hertford in 50 Buildings

Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Peter Jeffree

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2020

The River Lea and it's crossing at Hertford lie at the heart of the town's history. Before the Norman Conquest the river formed a natural boundary between the Danelaw to the north and Saxon Wessex to the south. Saxon villages already existed at Bengeo and Hertingfordbury and in 911 and 912 Edward The Elder, son of Alfred The Great, founded two fortified burghs, north and south of the Lee crossing (the ford is believed to about 50 yards downstream of what is now Mill Bridge). Two small towns developed, with two churches - the Saxon St Mary The Less in Old Cross and St Nicholas behind what is now Maidenhead Street. There were also two market places - belieived to be in Old Cross and on the site of The Shire Hall.

Following the Norman Conquest, a castle was established at Hertford, together with a priory and a new mill. For the next 300 years, the castle was a royal residence. With the patronage of kings and queens, together with the town's agricultural base, Hertford prospered.

In 1628 the castle passed into the ownership of the Earldom of Salisbury and eventually fell into ruin. The only remains of the castle are the original motte, the flint walls and the gatehouse.

Hertford Priory was dissolved in the 16th century and the church fell into disrepair. The land on which the Priory stood fell into private hands and became a manor farm.

In the late 18th Century the River Lea navigation was cut through the town providing important access to London's corn markets. Because the town was surrounded by agricultural estates it was unable to expand outwards and so expanded upwards by adding storeys to existing buildings. The outward expansion of the town didn't come about until the late 19th Century when the railway came to the town.

The Victorian era saw much building in the town as transport links to London improved. Electricity and gas were introduced and industry grew.

Hertford is now a thriving and rapidly expanding town with a rich heritage and none more so demonstrated than through its rich architectural heritage.

#31 Aylesbury in 50 Buildings

Aylesbury in 50 Buildings

Authors: Paul Rabbitts

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2021

Aylesbury started as a Saxon settlement called Aegel's burgh. Burgh is a Saxon word meaning fort or fortified settlement. It is possible Saxon Aylesbury had a ditch and earth rampart with a wooden palisade on top. By the 11th century, Aylesbury had a mint and probably had a weekly market.

However, Aylesbury was no more than a large village with a population of a few hundred. For centuries Aylesbury remained a large village rather than a town. Most of the people in Aylesbury made their living from farming rather than from industry.

However, medieval Aylesbury was an administrative center. Because of its weekly market, it served as a focal point for the surrounding villages. From the 13th century, Aylesbury also had 2 fairs. In the Middle Ages fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year for a few days. People would come from all over Buckinghamshire to buy and sell at an Aylesbury fair.

In the late 14th century Franciscan friars arrived in Aylesbury. Friars were like monks but instead of withdrawing from the world they went out to preach. Franciscans were called grey friars because of the color of their costumes. In the Middle Ages, there was also a leper hospital just outside Aylesbury dedicated to St Leonard. There was also a hospital for the poor and sick dedicated to St John.

In the 1530's Henry VIII closed the friary in Aylesbury and it was made into a private house.

Then in the 17th century John Hampden the local MP became a hero because he refused to pay ship money, a tax used to fund the navy. (Traditionally this tax was only raised in counties with a coast, not inland counties). In 1642 came civil war between king and parliament. Generally, the people of Aylesbury supported parliament. However, in November 1642, a royalist army occupied the town. Then came the battle of Aylesbury. Parliament sent an army towards Aylesbury and the royalists went to meet them at Holmans Bridge. The men of Aylesbury formed a militia, which attacked the royalists from behind. The royalists were defeated and were forced to flee. Parliament managed to hold on to Aylesbury for the rest of the civil war.

In the 17th and 18th centuries there was a lace making industry in Aylesbury. But it was the only significant industry in the town. There were some craftsmen such as carpenters, butchers, bakers, and blacksmiths serving the local community but that is all. For centuries Aylesbury continued as a large village rather than a town with many of its inhabitants farming the surrounding land. Some were craftsmen.

Aylesbury was also a coaching town. It was on several important routes and many stagecoaches stopped at the towns inns. Alfred the Great made Buckingham the county town of Buckinghamshire in 888. However, in 1725 a fire destroyed much of the town and the county government was switched to Aylesbury. The old County Hall was built about 1740. In the 18th century, Aylesbury became famous for the local breed of duck.

Aylesbury grew much bigger in the 19th century. In 1801 the population of Aylesbury was 3,186. It would seem tiny to us but by the standards of the time, it was a small market town. By 1831 the population had reached 4,907.

A canal was dug to Aylesbury in 1814. In 1839 Aylesbury was connected to the London to Birmingham railway. In 1863 it was connected by rail to High Wycombe. The railway boosted the population of Aylesbury. Many towns near London began to grow rapidly once they were connected to the capital by rail.

In 1832 50 people in Aylesbury died in an outbreak of cholera.

However, amenities improved in 19th century Aylesbury. From 1834 the streets of Aylesbury were lit by gas. An infirmary opened in 1833. It later became the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital. The first police force was formed in 1837. A cemetery opened in 1857. In 1867 a waterworks opened and the town soon had a piped water supply. Also in the 1860s, a network of sewers was built. The famous clock tower was built in 1876 and public baths were built in 1895. Meanwhile in 1894 Aylesbury was made an urban district council.

In the early 19th century the lace industry died out but there was a silk industry in Aylesbury. Other industries were printing and brewing. In the late 19th century condensed milk was made in Aylesbury. However, Victorian Aylesbury remained a market town rather than a manufacturing center. In 1865 a corn exchange was built where grain could be bought and sold and Aylesbury continued to be famous for its ducks.

In 1901 Aylesbury had a population of 9,240. During the 20th century conditions in Aylesbury continued to improve. A museum opened in Aylesbury in 1908 and in 1912 a statue of John Hampden was erected in the town. Furthermore, Aylesbury gained an electricity supply in 1915. Then in 1917 Aylesbury was made a borough.

In 1920 the council began building Southcourt Estate. It was greatly expanded in the 1950s. Meanwhile, Vale open-air swimming pool opened in 1935. Stoke Mandeville Hospital opened in 1940. Aylesbury Technical School opened in 1947.

In 1951 the population of Aylesbury was still only 21,240 but in 1952 it was agreed it would become an overspill town for London. The population of Aylesbury then boomed.

Meanwhile Grange school opened in 1954. In 1966 a new County Hall was built and Friars Square was created. In 1974 Aylesbury was made part of Aylesbury Vale Council. The Civic Centre was built in 1975. Hale Leys Shopping Centre opened in 1983. The Market Square was pedestrianized in 1984. In 1987 the cattle market closed, a sure sign Aylesbury had ceased to be a rural market town. The Friars Square Shopping Centre closed for refurbishment in the early 1990s. It re-opened in 1993.

In the 21st century Aylesbury continued to thrive. Bourg Walk Bridge opened in 2009. Waterside Theatre opened in Aylesbury opened in 2010. Today the population of Aylesbury is 56,000.

The buildings and architecture that remain are testament to the growth of Aylesbury and its continued role as overspill to London.

#32 Dunstable in 50 Buildings

Dunstable in 50 Buildings

Author: Paul Rabbitts

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2021

Dunstable began as a Roman town. Long before the Romans came to Britain there was a track called the Icknield Way, which cross the middle of England. In the 2nd century the Romans built a road called Watling Street, which crossed Icknield Way at the point where Dunstable stands today. The Romans built a posting station where travelers could change their horses.

A little market town grew up at the crossroads. The Romans called it Durocobrivis. However, the Romans left Britain in the 5th century and the roman Dunstable was abandoned. Soon the site was overgrown with trees and bushes.

The site lay derelict for centuries. In the year 1100, it was just a crossroads in a forest. However, trade and commerce were growing in England and the country was growing richer. The number of travellers was also increasing. Sooner or later it was likely somebody would build a new settlement at the ancient crossroads. In 1109 King Henry I deliberately created a new town at Dunstable.

He invited men to rent land in the area at 12 pence an acre (a considerable sum in those days). He also promised that anyone who lived in the town would have the same privileges as the people of London. (They had considerable privileges in those days so Henry's promise would have attracted many people to the new town).

Medieval Dunstable had a market. (In those days there were very few shops so if you wished to buy or sell anything you normally had to go to a market). The name Dunstable is probably derived from Dun staple. Dun is an old word for hill and staple means a wooden post. There may have been a post to mark the site of the market.

There is a legend that there was once an outlaw called Dun. One day the king fixed a ring to a wooden post with a staple and dared Dun to steal it. Audaciously Dun took the ring and the town became known as Dun's staple. However, it is only a myth.

Dunstable flourished though it would have been very small with a population of no more than 1,000. That might seem tiny to us but in the Middle Ages, towns and villages were much smaller than they are today. A typical village had only 100 or 150 inhabitants. In the Middle Ages Dunstable consisted of four streets forming a cross and some small lanes leading off them.

Dunstable had a market and it also had fairs. A fair was like a market but was held only once a year for a few days. People would come from as far away as London to buy and sell at the fairs. (Of course, the journey would have taken much longer than it does today and would have been far less comfortable).

In 1213 Dunstable suffered a disastrous fire. In those days, most buildings were of wood with thatched roofs so a fire was a constant hazard. On the other hand, wooden buildings could be easily rebuilt if they burned.

The prosperity of Dunstable was based on wool. Sheep grazed in the nearby hills and their wool was woven into cloth in Dunstable.

In 1123 King Henry built a royal residence at Dunstable. He also founded a priory (a small monastery) in 1131. The king granted the prior control of the town. However, he had already promised the townspeople the same freedoms as the citizens of London. As a result, there were endless arguments over who ran Dunstable, the prior or the merchants.

However, Dunstable priory did bring some benefits to the town. In the Middle Ages people went on long journeys called pilgrimages. Some traveled to Dunstable Priory to see holy relics there. The pilgrims spent money in the town adding to its prosperity.

As well as the priory there was also a leper hostel, built in 1208 south of Dunstable (Leprosy was a common disease in England until the 15th century when it declined. It disappeared in the 16th century). In 1259 Dominican friars, known as black friars because of the color of their costumes arrived in Dunstable. Friars were like monks but instead of withdrawing from the world they went out to preach.

There was also a considerable Jewish community in Dunstable in the 12th and 13th centuries. However, all Jews were expelled from England in 1290.

Dunstable has one other distinction. The first recorded play in England was performed in the town before 1119.

Queen Eleanor died in 1290 and her body stayed in Dunstable overnight on its journey to London. In 1291 the king built a cross to mark the site where her body had rested. In 1643 the Puritans demolished it. (They disapproved of all crosses).

In 1533 Archbishop Cramner announced the divorce of Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon in the Priory church. Henry VIII closed the priory in 1539. Local people helped themselves to stone for building. However, the closure of the priory led to the decline of Dunstable. In the Middle Ages, many pilgrims came to the priory and spent money in the town. Those visitors were now gone.

Moreover, like all Tudor towns Dunstable suffered from outbreaks of plague. There was a severe outbreak in 1582.

The wool cloth industry declined in the 17th century in the face of competition from the north of England. However, some new industries grew up in Dunstable. One was lark catching. Another was making straw hats. Yet another industry was brewing. There was also a lace-making industry in Dunstable. Yet in the 18th century, Dunstable remained a small and unimportant market town and the population hardly grew at all.

In the 18th century Dunstable was quite prosperous but it was very small. In 1801, at the time of the first census it still only had a population of 1,296. It was hardly larger than it was in the Middle Ages. Despite its small size Dunstable was an important stage coaching town. There had always been people travelling in private coaches but now you could pay to travel in a stagecoach. From 1742 stagecoaches made regular stops in the town and travelers stayed in the inns.

Meanwhile lace making and straw hat making boomed in Dunstable boomed.

In 1712 William Chew died. He left money in his will to build a school for 40 poor boys. It opened in 1715 but closed in 1905. Also in 1715 Frances Ashton built almshouses (she gave her name to Ashton Square). In 1723 Jane Cart, a wealthy widow built the Cart almshouses. Furthermore Church Street was built in 1784.

In the early 19th century straw hat making boomed in Dunstable but later in the century it declined. However, at the end of the 19th century, new industries arrived such as printing and engineering. The railway reached Dunstable in 1848 and from then on, the town grew rapidly (although it was still small at the end of the century). In 1901 Dunstable only had a population of 5,157. Houghton (which was still a separate community) had a population of 2,608.

In the mid-19th century new streets were built on the west of the town such as Matthew Street, Albion Street, Edward Street and Icknield Street (named after the Icknield Way, a track which had existed since prehistoric times).

From 1836 there was a gas supply in Dunstable. If you could afford it you could have gas light in your home. From 1865 the streets were lit by gas. In 1855 Dunstable gained its first newspaper. In the 1870s the town gained a piped water supply and in 1897-1902 sewers were built. A cemetery was laid out in 1861. Then in 1864 Dunstable was made a borough. A police force was formed in 1865. The first telephone exchange opened in 1897.

Dunstable continued to grow rapidly in this century. The old industry of straw-hat making ended in 1931. Brewing also came to an end in this century. However new industries came to replace them. In the early 20th century chain making and paper making began in Dunstable and a cement works opened in Houghton. Vauxhall motors came to Dunstable in 1954. Today there is also a light engineering industry.

Bennetts recreation ground opened in 1920 (it was named after a local family). A museum and library opened in Dunstable in 1927. Whipsnade zoo opened in 1931.

When the Second World War began several thousand schoolchildren were evacuated to Dunstable from the big cities but most of them soon returned home. Dunstable escaped bombing. In 1947 priory gardens opened to the public. In 1952 a war memorial was built there.

Until 1960 the area east of High Street North was still undeveloped. In that year, the council bought the area and began building. Dunstable College of Further Education was built in 1961. The Magistrates Court was built in 1963. A new post office was built the same year and Queensway Hall was built in 1964. St Mary's Catholic Church was also built in 1964 and Quadrant Shopping Centre followed in 1966.

The recreation centre was built in 1975 and a new health centre was built in 1976. Eleanor Cross Shopping Centre was built in 1985. Today the population of Dunstable is 37,000.

#33 Christchurch in 50 Buildings

Christchurch in 50 Buildings

Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Liz Gordon

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2021

Christchurch has a distinctive historic character reflecting both its origins as a Saxon burh and its maritime associations. The historic core of Christchurch sits on a gravel ridge which has shaped the town's layout. The earliest settlement was around the Saxon Minster church on the site of the present Priory Church at the southern tip of the ridge and the town developed slowly northwards, and the core retains the character of a historic town, despite the rapid proliferation of housing estates from the late 19th century onwards. This character is further distinguished by its maritime connection, including the harbour, salt marshes and sandy beaches of Christchurch bay, still dominated by the Priory.

Christchurch had two medieval extramural suburbs at Bridge Street and Bargates. Bridge Street retains significant character whilst the historic character of Bargates was disturbed by the construction of the by-pass.

The historic centres of Purewell, Stanpit and Mudeford retain important historic street frontages which form a continuous link around the harbour and the town centre via Bridge Street. The cluster of buildings at Staple Cross retain a village feel, but the former medieval hamlets at Bure, Somerford, Nea and Hoburne do not retain their character so well, being subsumed into the suburban housing estates of Somerford and Highcliffe. A group of 18th-century cottages at Chewton Common retain their character but are backed by a modern housing estate occupying former common land. The 19th century settlements at Walkford and Highcliffe Newtown have retained their period feel. North of the town centre medieval settlement is characterised by dispersed farms (Grove Farm and Bosley) set in enclosed fields and common, now absorbed into the inter-war suburban development.

The book celebrates its ancient history and its many historic buildings as well as its role as a popular tourist destination in Dorset.

#34 Tring in 50 Buildings

Tring in 50 Buildings

Author: Paul Rabbitts

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2021

People have lived, farmed and traded in Tring for thousands of years. The Icknield Way, which hugs the Chiltern scarp, is reckoned to be the oldest road in Europe, while the Bulbourne valley provided an obvious route for the Romans heading out west from St Albans. It was almost inevitable that a settlement would grow up here on the well-drained soil, with springs and good sites for wind and water mills.

The Manor of Tring, described in the Domesday survey, was to be the dominant influence on the town for centuries. It was held by the Crown and a succession of religious houses, including the Abbey of Faversham, which secured the all-important market charter in 1315. The manor was granted in 1679 to Henry Guy, Groom to the Bedchamber and Clerk of the Treasury to Charles II. Soon afterwards, Colonel Guy built himself a mansion designed by Sir Christopher Wren. He was also responsible for looking after the King's mistress Nell Gwynne, but it is improbable that she ever lived here.

Tring also has a close connection with George Washington, the first President of the USA. George's great grandfather, John Washington, was born and brought up in Tring. In the late 19th century the Manor became the home of a branch of the Rothschild family whose influence on the town was considerable.

The coming of the Grand Junction Canal in 1799 brought profound changes to this peaceful agricultural place. It took hundreds of "navvies" four years to dig the long, deep cutting needed to cross the Tring gap and four reservoirs were built to maintain the water level. From a wharf at New Mill, coal, bricks and slates came in, while flour and farm produce could be loaded for distant markets.

Industry arrived in 1823 when the manor was bought by a northern businessman, William Kay, and a huge silk mill was built in Brook Street employing 600 people, mainly women and children. New housing was built on the western side of Tring, a bank was established by the Butcher family, while John Brown came up from Dorset to buy a brewery and build some handsome pubs to serve the growing population. For many, the family income was supplemented by plaiting straw for the Luton hat trade.

In 1835, the London and Birmingham Railway was built alongside the canal. It needed a longer and deeper cutting, so the navvies descended once again and spent their earnings in the local pubs. The railway was never intended to pass through Tring itself nor even to have a station here but local traders petitioned the company to provide one as near as possible. The line opened in 1837 putting London within an hour's journey.

Still greater changes came about after 1872 when the Rothschild family added Tring Park to their clutch of local estates. The banker and statesman Nathaniel, later the first Baron Rothschild, set about a radical transformation of Tring over the next 40 years, rebuilding the farms and building new cottages to replace decaying properties in the town.

Together with the new Urban District Council he made many improvements, pulling down the old Market House outside the church to create a public open space, remodelling the buildings flanking Mansion Drive and creating a miniature welfare system. A new Market House was built by public subscription to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, while the Rose and Crown was rebuilt along 'reformed' lines for the new Trust House movement. The architect for these and the many new buildings along Western Road was William Huckvale, whose characteristic style with its timber framing, steep roof pitches and ornate chimneys has become something of a local trademark. Among his commissions was the museum built to house the immense zoological collection of Lord Rothschild's eccentric elder son, Walter.

At the start of the 20th century Tring was a confident and prosperous place but, as elsewhere, the whole way of life was abruptly changed by the Great War of 1914-18, in which large numbers of Tring men lost their lives, and the death of Lord Rothschild in 1915 marked the end of a glorious era. The younger son Charles inherited the estate but his early death was to lead to its sale, with the Mansion becoming a school.

After the Second World War, large areas north of the town were developed for housing and a bypass was built through the park. An industrial estate sprang up and new schools and a sports centre were built. Dolphin Square was developed and numerous enhancements carried out in the town centre.

At Pendley Manor several new facilities were created by Dorian Williams, including sports pitches, a theatre converted from an indoor riding school and an annual outdoor Shakespeare festival. An annual Arts Festival began, while the campaign to restore the derelict Wendover Arm of the canal brought its own annual event – Tring Canal Festival. Tring Park, threatened with development, was bought by the local authority and handed over to the Woodland Trust

#35 Bridport in 50 Buildings

Bridport in 50 Buildings

Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Liz Gordon

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2021

Bridport is a bustling market town in Dorset whose origins are Saxon. During the reign of King Alfred, it became one of the four most important settlements in Dorset – the other three being Dorchester, Shaftesbury and Wareham – with the construction of fortifications and establishment of a mint.

The Domesday Book recorded that Bridport had 120 houses in the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042–1066). Bridport suffered heavy losses due to frequent outbreaks of the Black Death; one 14th-century account by Geoffrey Baker recorded that the disease "almost stripped the seaports of Dorset of their inhabitants". Around this time, the town was also subjected to attacks by raiding French and Spanish forces.

Since the Middle Ages, Bridport has been associated with the production of rope and nets. The earliest official record of this industry dates from 1211, when King John ordered that Bridport make "as many ropes for ships both large and small and as many cables as you can". The raw materials needed, flax and hemp, used to be grown in the surrounding countryside, though they were superseded in modern times by artificial fibres such as nylon. Bridport's main street is particularly wide due to it previously having been used to dry the ropes, after they had been spun in long gardens behind the houses. Ropes for gallows used to be made in the town, hence the phrase "stabbed with a Bridport dagger" being used to describe a hanging.

Many buildings in Bridport, particularly in the main street, date from the 18th century. Bridport Town Hall was built in 1785-6, with its clock tower and cupola added about twenty years later. Older buildings can be found in South Street, and include the 13th-century St. Mary's Parish Church, the 14th-century chantry and the 16th-century Bridport Museum.

Bridport has developed a thriving arts scene in recent years which has contributed to the town becoming increasingly popular with people from outside the locality. It has an arts centre, theatre, library, cinema and museum, and hosts several annual events and festivals with a growing reputation for being a hub for artists and creatives. West Bay is the location for the highly popular TV series ‘Broadchurch’.

In April 2015, Bridport was ranked number 1 in The Times list of the top 15 Market Towns in Britain – recognised as being one of the happiest places to live offering ‘the ideal blend of urban bustle and rural charm’.

#36 Carlisle in 50 Buildings

Carlisle in 50 Buildings

Authors: Paul Rabbitts

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2021

Carlisle began as a Roman town called Luguvalium. The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD and about 78 AD the governor, Agricola, built a wooden fort on the site of Carlisle. Soon a civilian settlement grew up nearby. The soldiers in the fort provided a market for the townspeople's goods. In Roman Carlisle, there was probably a forum or market place with the public buildings around it.

However, in the 4th century Roman civilization declined. Troops were withdrawn from Hadrian's wall in 399 AD and the last Roman soldiers left England in 407 AD. Soon afterward the Roman way of life broke down and most Roman towns were abandoned. Roman Carlisle was probably left empty or with very few people living inside its walls.

Carlisle may not have been abandoned completely. There may have been some farmers living inside the walls and farming the land outside. However, it seems certain that Carlisle ceased to be a town and all its Roman buildings fell into ruins.

The Celts gave Carlisle its name. They called it Caer Luel, the fortified place belonging to Luel. St Cuthbert founded a monastery among the ruins of Carlisle in 685. In 876 the Vikings captured Carlisle and sacked it. The monks moved away but some people probably continued to live within the walls of the old Roman town. The Vikings held Carlisle until the 10th century when the Saxons captured it. Carlisle was rebuilt and revived by King William Rufus in 1092. He built a wooden castle at Carlisle (In the 12th century it was rebuilt in stone). Rufus encouraged people to come and live in Carlisle.

In the Middle Ages Carlisle was a small town with a population of perhaps 1,500-2,000 and was a fair - sized market town. However, Cumbria was a poor area of England with little trade and commerce in the region. Carlisle was strategically important because of its position near the Scottish border. In the 12th century, stone walls were erected around the town. The castle was rebuilt in stone and strengthened in the mid-12th century.

Meanwhile in 1122 a priory (small monastery) was built in Carlisle and in 1133 it was made the seat of a bishop. In 1223 the friars arrived in Carlisle.

Carlisle was given its first charter in 1158. In Medieval Carlisle, the main industries were wool and leather. Wool was woven and dyed in the town. Leather was tanned. Wool and leather were exported to Ireland.

Carlisle by now had a weekly market as well as an annual fair. People would come from all over Cumbria to buy and sell at a Carlisle fair. However, in 1292 Carlisle suffered a disastrous fire. Most of the buildings in Carlisle were of wood with thatched roofs so a fire was a constant danger.

In Carlisle, like many other market towns, different trades were organised into guilds to safeguard their member's interests. There were 8 of them, merchants, butchers, skinners, shoemakers, tanners, tailors, smiths and weavers. In the early 15th century a guildhall was built where they could hold meetings.

In 1541 Henry VII closed the priory and the 2 friaries. He also rebuilt and strengthened the castle. Henry replaced the southern gate of Carlisle with a citadel with 2 towers.

In 1642 came civil war between king and parliament. Carlisle was staunchly loyal to the king. However, after the battle of Marston Moor in July Scottish soldiers (on parliament's side) occupied all of northern England except Carlisle. The city was under siege from October 1644 to June 1645. Finally, Carlisle was starved into surrender. The soldiers then ransacked and vandalized the Cathedral. Afterwards, Carlisle was again struck by an outbreak of plague which killed many people.

Carlisle Cross was erected in 1682. Tullie House was built in 1689.

In the mid-18th century Carlisle was no more than a medium sized market town with a population of about 4,000. However, the situation began to change in the late 18th century. Trade had always been limited in Carlisle because it was in a poor area of England.

In 1745, the Jacobites under their leader Bonnie Prince Charlie marched south and after a short siege took Carlisle. They did not hold it for long. English forces soon recaptured Carlisle.

In the later 18th century roads to and from Carlisle were improved which allowed the merchants of the town to sell their goods elsewhere and in the last years of the 18th century the industrial revolution began to transform Carlisle. The wool industry began to boom. Meanwhile St Cuthbert's Church was built in 1778.

In the late 18th century life in Carlisle improved, at least for the well off. In 1782, a dispensary opened where the poor could obtain free medicines. Carlisle gained its first bank in 1787 and its first newspaper in 1798.

By 1801 the population of Carlisle was 9,555. By the standards of the time, it was quite a large town. Carlisle grew rapidly and by 1851 it had a population of over 25,000. Scottish and Irish immigrants swelled the population. The textile industry boomed in Carlisle in the early 19th century although many of the weavers lived in poverty. However, in the late 19th century the textile industry declined. Other industries in Carlisle in the 19th century included biscuit making, engineering, printing and brick making.

From 1804, the corporation lit and paved the streets. At first, Carlisle was lit by oil lamps but after 1819 it was lit by gas. Carlisle gained its first theatre in 1813 and between 1811 and 1815 parts of the town walls were demolished. Lowther Street was laid out on the site of the east wall. An infirmary was built in Lancaster in 1841.

Life in 19th century Carlisle gradually improved. The Covered Market was built in 1889. Carlisle Council obtained Tullie House in 1890 and built extensions to house a museum and library. In 1893 a park was opened called the Peoples Park. It was later extended and renamed The Bitts. In 1899 electricity was generated in Carlisle for the first time and the town gained electric light.

In 1823 a canal was dug from Carlisle to Port Carlisle. However, it was filled in 30 years later. In 1856 a railway was built to replace it. A railway connected Carlisle to Newcastle in 1838. Another railway was built to Maryport in 1845. Another connected Carlisle to Lancaster in 1846. Citadel station was built in 1848.

By 1901 the population of Carlisle was over 45,000. In 1900 electric trams began to run in the streets of Carlisle. They were replaced by buses in 1931. Carlisle gained its first cinema in 1906. In 1912 the boundaries of Carlisle were extended to include Stanwix and Botcherby. In the 1920s and 1930s Raffles Estate was built.

In the early 20th century the textile industry continued to decline. Other industries in Carlisle in the 20th century included biscuits and railway engineering.

In the 1920s and 1930s the first council houses were built in Carlisle and Carlisle Civic Offices were built in 1964. In the early and mid-1980s, The Lanes were rebuilt. Shops replaced old houses. A new library opened in 1986.

On Saturday 8 January 2005 Carlisle suffered from severe floods. Much of the city centre was submerged and 110,000 people had their power cut. Yet Carlisle recovered. Today Carlisle is a flourishing town with a population of 72,000. Its success is based on its industry and its industry has shaped its built environment and the many fantastic buildings that remain but have also been introduced. These are celebrated within this book.

#37 A History of Lead Mining in the

Yorkshire Dales

A History of Lead Mining in the Yorkshire Dales

Author: Paul Rabbitts

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Date: 2020

Owing to the geology of the area the rocks of the Yorkshire Dales are endowed with mineral deposits which have attracted industrial activity since Roman times (and possibly even before then).

Of particular interest over the centuries has been the presence of galena (a lead ore) which occurs within veins which have been exposed in places at the surface and running deep underground in continuous threads through the rock. Galena is first believed to have been mined on any significant scale in the dales by the Romans, who began their efforts using "hushes" (artificial valleys created by the scouring action of large amounts of water suddenly and deliberately released from specially constructed reservoir dams built high up on the fells).

This clever technique was used to expose mineral veins at the surface, though once these has been exhausted it became then necessary to follow the veins underground in order to extract more of the valuable ore. Initially the method used was simply to follow the vein in to the rock from the surface, though over time more sophisticated systems of horizontal or near horizontal levels (called "adits") were dug, interspersed with vertical shafts which were used to extract the ore via pulleys and which also provided ventilation. Purpose built drainage adits were also dug with the specific purpose of draining away water (the risk of flooding being an ongoing problem in these kind of mining operations).

On the surface smelting mills and chimneys were constructed to process the ore and convert it in to lead "pigs" ready for sale on the commercial market. Several of these chimneys (and the flues which were built to channel hot gases in to them) are still standing today - fine examples of which can be seen on Malham Moor and at Yarnbury on Grassington Moor.

Places historically associated with lead mining in the Yorkshire Dales area include Grassington Moor, and Grassington itself, Greenhow Hill, Pateley Bridge, Arkengarthdale and Swaledale.

In the late 19th century lead mining became generally uneconomic and most of the mines were abandoned. The legacy of lead mining remains to this day and is often almost come across by accident by walkers, exploring the Dales. From the villages established by miners, to barns in the many fields, to derelict smelt mills and the scars on the landscape, Lead Mining in the Yorkshire Dales is a fascinating part of the north’s industrial heritage and is explored in this new book.