Beverley in 50 Buildings by Lorna Jane Harvey
In 2019, I co-authored a book for Amberley Publishing about the small town of Beverley in Yorkshire. I have since moved half-way across the world and now live in New Zealand. There is no place on earth farther from Beverley than New Zealand.
The significance of this book may seem to some to only have a local impact. However, not only does the book serve to guide tourists and locals who may be interested in the town of Beverley, but it also serves a greater purpose by recording its history. The extensive research that goes into this series of books brings to light information that could easily have been lost or forgotten otherwise. How else would the Hodgson’s Tannery be remembered as it has been replaced by the modern shopping centre Flemingate? Who would know where the statue of a red devil on a house outside North Bar came from? Would Nellie the hunchback be recalled in another generation or two?
Included in the numerous little-known histories featured, the former site of a Knights Hospitaller preceptory is exposed. The Knights Hospitaller were a crusader military order. In 1540, the preceptory was the richest of its kind in Britain. It seems almost impossible that half a century later it would be all but forgotten under a railway station. The book also points to a Bronze Age Burial Mound overshadowed by a massive black tower, prisoners’ treadmills, and much more.
In my case, this book has brought enjoyment in other ways as well. An elderly woman I have the privilege to have met in New Zealand was thrilled to read it as her ancestors came from this very town. Ruth remembers visiting Beverley as a child and was delighted to be able to give a copy of the book to her children. Without it, perhaps their family’s link to Beverley would have been left behind. Her great grandchildren would probably only be told that they had British ancestors. They likely wouldn’t ever know that numerous buildings in Beverley were named after their family.
My own story is not dissimilar as I have lived most of my life in Canada and Switzerland, a long way from Yorkshire. I treasure the link to Beverley that writing this book has brought back to me. I have fond childhood memories of Beverley, but my understanding and appreciation of the beautiful town only truly developed as I researched this book.
My ancestors, the Robsons, were part of the Gunn Clan not far from where Beverley now sits. I imagine these Vikings would be amused and pleased to think of their home being remembered all around the globe. Indeed, copies of Beverley in 50 Buildings are in homes in Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, England, and likely a few more countries. As many others this century, we are a migrant family: I recently edited an anthology about migration called ‘Somewhere - Women’s Stories of Migration’ in which the topic is discussed further. The knowledge of our roots will always be essential to each one of us. By supporting book series such as the 50 Buildings series, Amberley Publishing is contributing to the knowledge of our roots remaining alive and well.
Lorna Jane Harvey and Phil Dearden's book Beverley in 50 Buildings is available for purchase now.