2 Great Books; 1 in Kent, 1 in Sussex.
Since I wrote these reviews in August, our lovely Wendy has died of liver cancer a few days ago.
She was a wonderful lady who battled bad health all her life, but always remained cheerful. She actually made me laugh while she was describing her illness! And she never stopped working.
Rest in Peace, Wendy. You’ll be greatly missed.
If I had a library in my car, I’d carry these two books around with me for reference. But I will look through them when I’m planning where to visit.
Although they’re written in adjoining Counties, they’re completely different.
Dr Adrian Greaves’ book is a sit-down-and read-from-cover-to-cover book.
Wendy Hughes’s book is an open-randomly-and-dip-into-it book.
Both authors have carried out the most amazing research.
Adrian spent hours, poring over old records and maps in the Tenterden and District Museum, who benefit from the book’s sales.
Wendy, chauffeured around by her husband Conrad, who took a lot of the photos, visited most of the places in the book personally. And despite the occasional bout of ill health and frantic Editors, she refused to send the book for publication until she was satisfied with her final results.
Forgotten Snippets and Gruesome History of Tenterden and District begins way back in pre-history, around the end of the Ice Age, and takes us up to the Fire in the High Street on 5th November, 2014, and to the present.
In one of Life’s strange coincidences, I’d just finished reading a biography of Emma Hamilton and Lord Nelson before I picked up Dr Adrian’s book. And I was amazed to read that their illegitimate daughter, Horatia, whose parentage was one of Society’s open secrets, married the Rev Philip Ward in 1830 and lived in the vicarage.
They had four children, but when Rev Ward died after 28 years’ service to the town, Horatia was cruelly evicted from the vicarage. She moved to London and never returned to Tenterden.
I won’t spoil the book by telling you any of the juicy bits. But if the stagecoach that passed through the town came into the future and stopped at the Woolpack Inn in the High Street, the passengers would be able to look around them and still recognise Tenterden, as its basic layout hasn’t altered at all!
Wendy’s book, The A-Z of Curious Sussex.
Strange Stories of Mysteries, Crimes and Eccentrics.
Let’s randomly open Wendy’s book and see what it says;
Lyminster. The Sussex Knucker.
The Knucker was a nasty dragon that lived in a deep pool called Knucker Hole.
There are different versions of who killed the Knucker, but a tomb called the Slayer’s Slab, apparently where the dragon killer is buried, can be seen in St Mary Magdalene’s Church.
It has a cross on the stone lid, and what looks like dragon scales.
There are a lot of ancient tales around Sussex. And there have always been celebrities and eccentrics too!
Do read the book as you’ll be fascinated by some of the facts in it.
I read Wendy’s previous book, Haunted Worthing, and, knowing Wendy and her determination (and her eager editors) she’ll already be planning her next book.
And I can’t wait to read it!
Biographies of the two authors.
Wendy turned to writing, in 1989, when ill-health and poor vision forced her into medical retirement at the age of 38. Since then she has published 26 nonfiction books, and one children’s activity book. She has had over 2000 articles published, on a variety of subjects, including: health, travel, history of medicine and the quirky side of life. Her work has appeared in magazines as diverse as The Lady, Funeral Service Journal, On the Road, 3rdStone, Celtic Connections, Best of British, and Guiding.
Wendy has spent many years campaigning and writing on behalf of people affected by Stickler Syndrome, a progressive genetic connective tissue disorder from which she herself suffers. She founded the Stickler Syndrome Support Group and raises awareness of the condition amongst the medical profession, and produces the group’s literature. In conjunction with support groups in America and Canada, she also produced a DVD entitled Stickler Syndrome: Learning the Facts.
Wendy also talks and instructs on the craft of writing, and her latest book The A-Z of Curious Sussex was launched in November 2017. Presently she is working on a biography about her mother who went blind in 1958. It won Wendy the Sir Harry Brittain Scholarship in 2006, and was judged by Victoria Glendinning, who is known for her biographies. Victoria said. ‘It is a miracle of memory, observation and tenderness, and manages at the same time to be extremely funny as well as touching and this is quite a difficult note to strike. It reminded me of Alan Bennett.
The A to Z of Curious Sussex is an engaging book, and Wendy Hughes takes you on a grand tour of the curious and bizarre, the strange and the unusual from Sussex’s past. Read about the Alfriston Star the hostelry for medieval package tours with the unusual ship’s figurehead, the Russian memorial to Finnish soldiers, crazy Jack who couldn’t stop building, and who is buried in a pyramid, the inventor of vapour baths and the lady who fooled the army. Along the way we will meet scandalous residents, inventors and smugglers galore. This book is guaranteed to fascinate both resident and visitor alike.
Available from Waterstones, W H Smiths or an Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Z-Curious-Sussex-Mysteries-Eccentrics-ebook/dp/B074WJ7L8W/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532510749&sr=1-1&keywords=Curious+Sussex
or The History Press – https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/search-here/?s=wendy+Hughes&p=1&ps=9
Adrian Greaves is a former Army officer who served in Berlin during the Cold War. As a regular Guard Commander at Spandau Prison which held Germany’s top WWII war criminals, he had the unique experience of being taught German by Albert Speer – Hitler’s former Minister of production. Following his army service, he joined the Police Service and served across Kent with spells in London, Sussex and Hampshire. He retired to Tenterden having reached senior rank with Kent Police. He holds a PhD in History and is the author of numerous published historical works including;
Lawrence of Arabia – Mirage of a Desert War (Cassell)
Rorke’s Drift (Cassell)
Crossing the Buffalo (Cassell)
Isandlwana (Pen & Sword)
Forgotten Battles of the Zulu War (Pen & Sword)
The Who’s Who of the Zulu War (Pen & Sword) 2 Volumes
Redcoats and Zulus (Pen & Sword)
The Curling Letters of the Zulu War (Pen & Sword)
He is currently completing a biography about a British Army Bomb Disposal expert – The Bomb Whisperer.
As a regular volunteer at Tenterden and District Museum he recently researched and published Forgotten Snippets and Gruesome History of Tenterden which immediately sold out, as did the re-printed edition. He is now preparing a revised and expanded edition of ‘Forgotten Snippets’ to include Tenterden’s neighbouring villages and the Romney Marsh, all of which share an astonishing and violent history, and gruesome past – much of which is unknown.
He has lived in Tenterden with his family since 1986.
His Cassell and Pen & Sword publications are available from bookshops or ‘online’. The revised ‘Snippets’ will be available for Easter 2019 from Tenterden & District Museum.