Dear Reader

Dear Reader #149

Dear Reader,

The Countess, Series 1, Episode 3 of The Rockford Files saw another solid story from John Thomas James enlivened by crisp dialogue from Stephen J. Cannell. Joe Santos as the long-suffering Sergeant Becker appears in this episode. 

In a phone call with Rockford, Becker implies that his wife’s name is Nancy. However, when that character appears later in the series, played by Pat Finley, her name is Peggy. Incidentally, she is one of my favourite side-characters in the series.

Mistakes in long-running series are inevitable. It’s hard enough for writers to keep track of events in real life, let alone in a fictional universe. The fact that fans notice any errors is a compliment to a series, I reckon; it highlights their deep commitment.

Susan Strasberg, ‘The Countess’. 

The Dissolution of the Monasteries (1535 – 40) created great wealth for some, and more modest opportunities for others. The great religious land carve up started in London. With an influx of people from other parts of Britain, and abroad, the city grew from 150,000 inhabitants in 1580 to 500,000 by 1660. 

The ‘Copperplate’ map of London, produced from a survey conducted between 1553 and 1559, is the earliest true map of London. Sadly, only three of the original fifteen printing plates survived – the Moorfields plate, the Eastern City and the Western City.

From the Copperplate Map of London, 1559, St Paul’s Cathedral. 

St Paul’s lost its spire when it was struck by lightning in 1561. 

The printed word was seen as a threat to the Establishment (because people could form their own opinions). Nevertheless, by 1550, St Paul’s became the national centre of the book trade.

Education, Tudor and Stuart London. In ‘petty schools’ children learned the alphabet and the Lord’s Prayer. However, they were not taught how to write. Teachers were often invalids and paupers, seeking means of support.

Grammar schools, for boys, taught Latin and Greek, but not English. In theory, these schools were free, but most levied fees that went beyond the budget of the poor. City companies, such as brewers and coopers, also established grammar schools. 

Adults attended lectures on astronomy, divinity, geometry, law, music, physic and rhetoric. The upwardly mobile studied history, music and dancing. These subjects prepared them for their move into the ‘right’ social circles.

What have immigrants ever done for us? From the late sixteenth century, women escaping religious persecution in Europe established schools in London and taught girls. Consequently , female literacy increased from 16% in 1590 to 48% in 1690.

St Paul’s School, c1670. Wellcome Images.

With 28 bookshops encircling its churchyard, St Paul’s Cathedral became the centre of literacy in Tudor London. In 1599 they even removed the ‘common privy’ to make way for a new bookshop. 

William Caxton established the first printing press in Westminster in 1476. Other presses followed, in Dowgate, Fleet Street, and St Dunstan’s in the West.

Wynkyn de Worde (his real name) was the most prolific printer and publisher in early Tudor Britain. He acquired Caxton’s impress and published bestsellers such as The Golden Legend and The Chronicles of England. 

Branching out, de Worde published marriage guidance manuals, children’s books, medical treatises and romances. By the time of his death in 1535 his catalogue listed over 800 books.

St Paul’s Cathedral with bookshops crammed between the buttresses. John Gipkyn, 1616.

In the early 1600s the rich and poor of London lived side-by-side in timber and brick houses. Gardens were common, while some buildings were six storeys tall. The larger houses had lead cisterns to collect rainwater. All properties shared community wells.

Around 1630 the wealthy moved to the suburbs. Tradesmen lived in two-up, two-down houses with their shops occupying the ground floor. The poor lived in one-up, one down houses while those in extreme poverty lived in cellars.

By 1640 the united city had divided along class lines. And with each new decade and century those divisions increased.

A plan of timber-framed houses drawn by Ralph Treswell, c1600.

Welsh Football Legends

George Latham MC and Bar was born in Newtown, Powys on 1 January 1881. As a footballer, he played for Newtown, Cardiff City, Liverpool, Stoke City and Southport Central. He was also capped, ten times, by Wales.

As a military man, George served in the Second Boer War and the First World War. He received the Military Cross for his bravery in Gaza, Palestine and Turkey, 1917-18, and the Bar for his courage in Beersheba, 1918. George completed his military career with the rank of captain.

George was also a successful coach. He coached Cardiff City during their halcyon period, 1911 – 36, when the team won the FA Cup, 1927, and narrowly missed out on the league title, denied by goal difference.

George’s origins were humble. The fifth of six boys, his parents were William, a labourer, and Esther, a laundress. He attended New Road School then trained as a tailor in Market Street.

As a teenager, George played for Newtown as an inside forward and achieved modest success. However, in 1900 he volunteered to serve in South Africa during the Second Boer War. He joined the Fifth South Wales Borderers, who were stationed in Newtown.

In fourteen months George saw action in a number of places, including Brandfort and Potchefstroom. He rose from private to the rank of corporal. He played football in South Africa, for a team named the Docks. After the Boer War, George also played for the South African side, the Caledonians.

George’s footballing career in England was, initially, patchy. He joined Liverpool, but had to wait three years before his debut, on 8 April 1905. Never a first team regular, he made only nineteen appearances in seven years. Moves to Southport and Stoke followed before George joined Cardiff City as player-coach in February 1911.

In George’s first season, Cardiff City won the Welsh Cup, defeating Pontypridd 3 – 0 in a replay. George replaced the injured Bob Lawrie in the replay, but presented his winner’s medal to him after the game.

George was a squad player at Cardiff City, filling in for injured players. Nevertheless, he won ten caps for Wales, making his debut on 6 March 1905 in a 3–1 victory over Scotland. George’s tenth and final cap, on 18 January 1913 v Ireland was notable: due to a lack of fit players, as coach George joined the team. Wales won, 1 – 0.

In footballing terms, George’s main skill was as a coach. Working alongside Fred Stewart, he guided Cardiff City to the FA Cup final on two occasions. Cardiff lost 1 – 0 to Sheffield United in 1925 before tasting victory against Arsenal in 1927 in a famous match that ended 1 – 0.

During his spell with Cardiff City, George arranged annual charity matches with his hometown club Newtown to rise money for the Montgomery County Infirmary. After George’s death at the infirmary in 1939, Newtown named their ground Latham Park in his honour.

You can read more player profiles here

In this month’s issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads…

Author Caroline Dunford interviewed by Wendy H Jones. Plus, Author Features, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Recipes, Short Stories, Young Writers, National Picnic Month, and so much more!

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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