Review of ‘A Peakland Abecedary’, by Julie Bunting

This review is by Tom Bates, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Tom's kind permission.

by Julie Bunting
ISBN 0-901100-82-X (2009)

Local author Julie Bunting has triumphed again with this book, an elegant quarto sized paperback culled from her first Peakland Abecedary which was originally published in the Derbyshire Heritage Series in 1993, but now packed with far more fascinating information about the county she loves and has written about so admirably for more than a quarter of a century.

The first thing to be said about A Peakland Abecedary is that it is superbly designed and produced; the quality and sharpness of the text and numerous coloured illustrations (I counted over one hundred) is a joy to behold and enhances the reader's enjoyment of the well-scripted contents.

Front Cover

This book refutes the old adage and is an exception to the rule that you should 'never judge a book by its cover' - this one you can; for the front cover especially is startlingly attractive, depicting the beautiful 17th century effigy of a child of Sir John Manners of Haddon Hall which stands in Bakewell Church. Between the covers is an A - Z encyclopaedia of 'intriguing, unique and little-known oddities' covering the whole of the Peak District, from Arbor Low to Zerdotalia (which, we learn, is one of several names for the Roman fort near Glossop).

In between we find where the 'only medieval squinch in the peak' can be found; get to see the unique Rindle Stone in a country churchyard and learn all about Rindles; take a dip in Illy Willy Water, find a Mermaid in Buxton, and pay a visit to the Murder Stones!

In our journey through the book we walk always in the author's footprints and hear the vibrant cadence of enthusiasm for her subject in her distinctive voice, and along the way we learn numerous fascinating facts about the rich history and heritage of her beloved Peakland.

The book is an entertaining alphabetical treasure trove of quirky curiosities to be delved into and plundered time and again, and will make a welcome addition to any collector of books about the Peak District - and to those farther afield who seek to learn the fascinating facts about many of its unique oddities!

Review by Tom Bates

Editor's Note:
At the time of writing this review (2009), signed copies were said to be available direct from the author. However for reasons of privacy (GDPR), her contact details have been withdrawn from this webpage. (Updated 24 Dec 2018)

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