This post is the first in taking on the challenge I put out on a previous post, about putting resources out there and info in aiding the exploration of a given landscape and material for different ways of interacting with that landscape.
In this post it´s historic books found online and free. This post will be under construction all this week finding the time to add the online book links on the Tamworth Timehikes area to the list, correcting typos, etc.
How historic books help us look at landscapes differently
They Provide an invaluable peek at the area in the past, a snapshot, overview with all sorts of information to compare and contrast. They also show how the writers viewed the place and it´s people, how they interacted with it. We can even relearn ways of enjoying the landscape. It´s a chance to go for a walk with the writer around the place, hear what they have to say and show you, a conversation on your surroundings bridging centuries!
Where and How
It´s amazing what´s out there, it´s not always easy to find, but like all discoveries it´s a rewarding experience when you find it and yes being free definitely adds something. Inevitably googlebooks is the big one. All sorts of 19th and 20th century travel writing, geology etc books are out there. It´s a great resource and means that the book is transported and transformed from some dusty book archived in a basement in an American East coast University onto the bright screens of the some sleek 21st century device. I´ve never worked out how google book searches, and most of the finds have been through randomly entering a couple of key words like cellar and Polesworth and with a bit of luck finding a hidden gem. Like most worthy ventures it takes time, the right feeling and perseverance. Another digitalized book goliath is www.archive.org. A great resource with nice looking viewing methods, found most of the real historic books on this page right back to the 16th and 17th centuries. I find it easier to search on this site too. Theres a lot more digitalized book archives out there like Project Guthenburg but haven´t had much luck in finding books on the Tamworth area. The real hard and rare finds are the ones found through maybe a community webpage, blogs, forums, randomly finding it through links, these are the eldorado of the online books and extremely rare, but doesn´t mean you shouldn´t try.
The Tamworth Timehikes historic online book list (so far)
The Tamworth area although forgotten in a lot of areas is actually particularly rich in online books given it´s historic location on the borders of the counties of Warwickshire and Staffordshire meaning it often appears in accounts of both counties. Of course my blinkered explorations means I can´t compare it with other areas of England. Click on the book images below to go to the original source. The list is ordered chronologically indicating the page reference to the Tamworth area when possible.
The first account chronologically of Tamworth is The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543, Edited by Lucy Toulmin Smith, 1907. The account on Tamworth starts on pages 103 and lasts a couple of pages.
The antiquities of Warwickshire illustrated, William Dugdale.1656.
Account of Tamworth and Warwickshire side of the Tamworth timehikes area, including Polesworth, the accounts with pictures start on pages 805, Tamworth gets the treatment from page 817 onwards.
Britannia, by William Camden, 1674?, short excerpt on Tamworth is in the Staffordshire chapter, which you have to click on.
A survey of Staffordshire, with a description of that county, Sampson Erdeswick, 1820. Extract on Tamworth starts on page 322 (392 on the archive page) originally written in 1723
A topographical history of Staffordshire, William Pitt, 1817, pages on Tamworth start on page 139
School day memories of adventures including time in the Tamworth area from prolific writer and spiritualist William Howitt. A real gem of a find, adventures in Tamworth start on p259
The Boy´s Country- Book, William Howitt, 1839
The oft cited and extremely useful The history of the town and castle of Tamworth:in the county of Stafford and Warwick, Charles Ferrer Palmer, 1845.
The Wanderings of a pen and pencil, F.P Palmer, Alfred Henry Forrester, 1846.
Another luxury find is this charming travel book. Accounts of Tamworth and especially Warwickshire side including Pooley, Polesworth all nicely illustrated start on pages 71.
The hunting counties of England, their facilities, character, and requirement, Brooksby, 1882. not much on the area, (South Staffordshire description starts on p224) adding this hunting book for varietyies sake