The Voices of Newbury

The acceleration of time continues. I’ll be 36 in January, (I think, can’t actually remember it it’s that or 37). Anyway, I’m hurtling towards 40 at an increasing rate of knots.

In keeping with this I seemed to have joined a choir for Christmas, and have recently spent two brilliant evenings meeting people and singing with them at St. Nicholas Church in Newbury. I can’t help thinking of the sense of continuity, and of course of continuation when singing in a church.

As we were singing there were people ordering the church for Christmas, putting up a tree and decorations, setting up displays.  It reminded me powerfully of the activities of the people of Morebath as recorded in Sr Christopher Trychay’s parish journal and set out in The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village

Looking on Wikipedia this morning I see that my feelings weren’t a co-incidence. The present building was started in the year (1509) that Henry VIII came to the throne, and probably completed around the year (1533) that he was excommunicated by Pope Clement VII. It would be really interesting to find out how the swings of reformation, counter-reformation and Elizabethan settlement affected the church in the years after its completion. I wonder if there’s a book?

It seems there is! The Story of Newbury (Local History).


  • Tiffany has been watching The Tudors and is finding that period of time very interesting. She then spent about twice as long reading Wikipedia pages about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn that actually contain factual information and finding that even more interesting.

    Do you ever teach the history of that period and if so how can Tiffany sign up for your class.

  • I’m not an expert (on anything really, but especially not the Tooders). But, there are a couple of good books wot I have read, one in particular is really well written, and leaves you feeling much cleverer than you felt when you started it, but with little or no sense of “got to finish that bleedin’ book on the reformation” – The Long European Reformation: Religion, Political Conflict and the Search for Conformity, 1350-1750 (European History in Perspective) Catchy title eh? Don’t believe the comments on Amazon, it’s actually quite an easy read, and contains all the stuff you need to know about Calvin, Luther et al. It puts Henry VIII in a context that makes him seem a little less venal (tho not much). The other one is the Voices book mentioned in the post – I LOVE it, in fact it might be my favourite history book from last year.

    Another place to look is thought Starkey’s emphasis gets a bit grating after a couple of hours!

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