WINCHCOMBE: A history of the Cotswold Borough

by D.N. Donaldson

Every generation or so, a new book about historical Winchcombe hits the bookshops, and this one exceeds the standards set by David Donaldson’s illustrious predecessors, including Emma Dent, Eleanor Adlard and David Royce. The purist might point out that Donaldson’s latest publication is not really new and is simply an update of his first effort (“A Portrait of Winchcombe”, published in 1978, and long out of print). However, although he has used many similar topics, the new book is such a substantial revision that it is almost a complete re-write – and about twice as long.

In the intervening 24 years, new sources have become available, which have been woven into the main themes of the narrative, and this will delight students of Winchcombe’s history, and will also be of interest to the general reader. The broad scope of the book ranges from evidence of Roman occupation to the late 20th century, including several chapters about medieval times when the town’s economy was dominated by Winchcomb abbey, plus lengthy sections on Victorian times. Some interesting pen pictures of prominent citizens are included (for example, Richard Kidderminster – the penultimate Abbot – plus Edmund Thomas Browne, Dennis Trenfield, and Rev JR Harvey), and there are full references at the end of each chapter, plus a much improved index and bibliography.

I was hoping the book might shed a little more light on 18th century Winchcombe, which appears to have been a time of comparatively little change, but source material for this period is admittedly thin on the ground. However, despite this minor quibble the book is a very welcome addition to the (admittedly small) library of books about Winchcombe’s history, and is highly recommended. Review by Rob White.

Copies of the book (ISBN: 1-902279-12-3) (229 pages) can be obtained from the Phoenix Bookshop, North Street, Winchcombe for £14.95 – and presumably other bookshops in the area. Alternatively, orders can be placed with the publisher (post free) at The Wychwood Press, Alder House, Market Street, Charlbury, OX7 3PH ( 01608-811969 01608-811969 ).