The Chairman of the Andover History and Archaeology Society, Anthony Raper, hosted a reception at Andover Museum to launch Diana Coldicott's new book "Elizabethan Andover"
Speaking at the launch, Sir George said that the book was a reminder that Andover used to be higher up the pecking order than it is now. "We had two MP's, instead of the current indignity of sharing one with the whole of North West Hampshire." He also remarked that it was easier to get elected then "The Earl of Leicester simply wrote the name of his preferred candidate in the blank section of the writ from Parliament - and there was Andover's MP!"
He commended the book to those who were interested in the history of the town, and complimented Diana Coldicott on the research she had carried out in the five years it had taken to write it.
INTRODUCTION TO ‘ELIZABETHAN ANDOVER’(prepared by the Society)
Diana Coldicott’s book Elizabethan Andover gives a clear picture of how Andover looked and the way its people lived some 500 years ago, and, in particular, during the period 1558 to 1603 when Elizabeth I was on the throne.
The book is the result of several year’s research into original sources, particularly court records, histories of the period, but above all, some 130 local Elizabethan wills written in a script that is undecipherable except to the trained eye. Yet, despite all this detail, she has managed to precis it into an accurate, very readable, and touchingly human story.
It is a fascinating scenario of: religious upheaval (the Reformation); social mobility; population growth; improving education; conformity to the authority of both church and realm, and fear of disease and poverty.
The book is mostly about people and how they coped with such things. We see, for example, how the Reformation must have appeared to Christopher Ashley, a saddler, who, quite exceptionally, lived right through the 1 6~ century. We feel a degree of admiration for John Body who was martyred in Andover for his refusal to abandon his religious beliefs. We anguish over the bravery of Robert Jacques who, realising he was sick with bubonic plague, rented a hay loft in a field where he could die alone without infecting his family. And we find out what happened when a similarly sick publican was less conscientious.
There is a lot about domestic life and how people fed or starved according to the vagaries of the harvests. One also finds out who in the family dealt with sickness in an age before doctors and when life was fragile.
And finally we realise that what we are reading is a microcosm of what was going on all over the country because Andover was just one of 644 similar market towns.
Those who read this book will see modern Andover through more perceptive eyes. The book is published by the Andover History and Archaeology Society.