Saturday, 23 July 2016

Revelations from Old Parish Magazines

By Rosemary Jewers

'Revelations from old Parish Magazines' Compiled and edited by Rosemary and Tony Jewers. Foreword by H.R.H.The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The book may still be available from some bookshops although copies may be limited. Having already reprinted Rev.elations, we have decided not to reprint further copies.

When I inherited a collection of old parish magazines from my parents, I had no idea that I was about to be unearth a treasure-trove of fascinating reading.

My great-great-grandfather, Charles Brereton, became Rector of the parish of Little Massingham, Norfolk in 1820 and subsequent Breretons followed in his ecclesiastical footsteps in the same village for many years. It is because of this continuous line of parsons that the copies of the magazines and their extraordinary content remained intact. These later Brereton clergy contributed to the magazines.

This 150 page A5 book is based on articles written by Norfolk parsons about their Norfolk parishes. It gives a good insight into the life style and conditions between 1908 to 1933. A good read for everyone, and an ideal Christmas or Birthday present.

The purpose of this book is to reveal an authentic slice of social history between 1908-1933, quoting from articles written by parsons at the time, when reporting on social events, activities, village spirit, gossip and news, with tales of joy and sorrow, the curious and the incredible thrown in.

Some wrote with great wit and humour, some with charisma, while others did not disguise their strong views and wrote in an outspoken manner, that the clergy today would not dare even to contemplate. Fortunately for us, many of them wrote with such passion and in such detail at a time when the parson was effectively the head of social services and the Chief Executive Officer.

If there was a shortage of parish news, parsons wrote about interesting national and local historical matters, some dating back hundreds of years. Several are included in the book.

My husband Tony, who had worked most of his life on news production for BBC TV, ITV and Sky News, helped with the selection and editing of the articles. This involved ploughing through over 3,000 articles written by rectors of over twenty Norfolk parishes, to select an interesting mix of everyday life and national crises, good and bad news and intentional and unintentional humour.

The 1908 to 1914 magazines reflected the quiet easy-going tenor of village life. This was shattered by the outbreak of war in 1914 and the cruel loss of life that ensued. In the aftermath, high prices, unemployment and industrial strikes caused many problems, but community spirit and an appetite for enjoyment lived on. Later magazines reflect how villagers adapted to change and eventually resumed their normal lifestyle, but with significant differences, not least being the advent of the motor car.

All this was not confined to Norfolk; the whole nation was affected by great change. So, readers from any part of the country can enjoy a trip through this book to a bygone era and sample a flavour of Norfolk life and humour. Several villages featured are within the Sandringham estate and royal involvement with the residents was an important part of their lives.

ISBN: 9781904006534

All profits have been given to Norfolk charities, including Norfolk Churches Trust