Review of ‘The Peak District Year’, by Paul Sullivan

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 24th April 2006, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

THE PEAK DISTRICT YEAR

Author Paul Sullivan of Buxton has really fleshed out the bones of surviving customs and traditions to assemble this 160-page compendium, truthfully described as 'A Derbyshire Almanac: The What's on, Who's Who and Why-on-Earth Guide to Derbyshire and the Peak District'.

A fascinating local pointer to the invention of the safety pin launches one rare tale after another, retold alongside details of annual events as the year progresses. Witty headings and tangental thought-association provide such incredible links as Sunday Mass Murder and church timbers embedded with lead shot; A Pig of a Find and Roman workmanship; Woolly Thinking and law-breaking corpses; Whit's End and the Castleton Garland; and an animal in Pork Condition in Baslow.

Potentially useful light-hearted advice extends to putting a year on a stick, what a woman should wear when proposing to a man, and the best time to drink from a Peakland 'fertility' well.

It comes as no surprise to read that this book took two years to compile, yet Paul Sullivan declares that it could be written ten times over with entirely different stories and references. Perhaps he means to try, for he extends a brave invitation for readers to 'inundate me with correspondence.'

So in that spirit I hope that he won't mind checking out a couple of points that seem to have been afflicted by a certain unlucky number. Firstly, the title of a gentleman referred to on 13 February and secondly, on 13 August, the name of an historic house plus a mix-up with someone else's garden. Minor niggles in an abundance of carefully produced text but he did ask ...

Illustrated with enviable line drawings and photographs, The Peak District Year is published by Churnet Valley Books at £8.95. On sale in local outlets or to order quoting ISBN 1-904546-15-3.

Review by Julie Bunting


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