Review of ‘Bradwell Ancient and Modern’, by Seth Evans

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 26th July 2004, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Seth Evans

Published by Country Books (2004)

Country Books of Little Longstone have already produced facsimiles of a number of important old books about the Peak. They have now turned their attention to one of the best: Bradwell Ancient and Modern, written by Seth Evans in 1912.

The remarkable Seth Evans, a member of Derbyshire Archaeological Society, made it his life's work to explore the history of Bradwell and the Hope Valley area, gathering tales of incidents and recollections from surrounding villages. His topics are too numerous to mention here, suffice it to say that there is hardly any aspect of local and social history not covered. Little known anecdotes are introduced into a wider overview, so that a cursory dip into the pages reveals the mysterious Grey Ditch, the Roman occupation, battles, foresters and bold knights, the 'bad old laws' and the lawbreakers, rebellious lead miners and fatalities in the mines, superstition and romance.

Life was often hard in this corner of the Peak, even without the indignities of the workhouse, 'tragical deaths' at every turn and 'people washed away in floods'. What the inhabitants did have to look forward to were bull baitings, bust-ups in church, the wakes, well dressings, and ale in abundance.

More than 130 illustrations have been faithfully reproduced from the original Bradwell Ancient and Modern, showing rare glimpses of long-lost scenes and a cast of remarkable characters. The illustrated addenda on Roman Brough shows excavations in progress, giving answers to all who have looked in vain for traces of the Roman fort of Navio.

The scope of Bradwell Ancient and Modern makes it a most valuable and fascinating source of reference into bygone village life. Like many others, I have long coveted this rare classic, but its enlarged facsimile fits the bill perfectly.

Review by Julie Bunting

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