Local history in the hands of a master in the evocation of time and place. In Three Houses, Many Lives, the houses are variously a country vicarage in the Cotswolds, a girls' boarding school in Surrey and a big town house in North London; the many lives are the people who lived in them, through the ages and through many changes to the houses themselves.
Many lives, indeed. The pages of Gillian Tindall's fascinating new book team with vivid pen portraits of ordinary people, from Eugenia Stanhope, widow, to Margaret Harding, wife of the parish clerk; from Thomas Lewes, vicar of the same church from the age of 28 to 82, to Charles Turner, who farmed 226 acres in Hornsey before the coming of the railways ate up the fields and forests of North London . Taynton was by-passed by the railways so remains as rural today as it was in the past; while the inhabitants of Oxted, as alert to 'society' as any Jane Austen hero, commuted by train to work in the City. Equally, Taynton vicarage saw few changes in usage, while Stapleton Hall was variously a lodging house, the headquarters of the Stroud Green Conservative Association and a drinking club for lorry drivers. It is with the skill of the accomplished researcher and the elegant writer that Gilliam Tindall paints in the history, from the enclosures to the Oxford Movement, from local government through church Vestries to the age of the blogger.
“Both warm and poignant and a joy to read”
Hannah Britt, Daily Express
“It’s a worthy project, but in the most fascinating way”
Lesley McDowell, Glasgow Sunday Herald
“Tindall transforms bricks and mortar into fascinating social history”
Christopher Hirst, Independent