Often, in the course of sorting through all the lovely donations that are given to us we come across something that requires a little learning on our part (a recent box of pianola rolls even resulted in the discovery of forums dedicated to player pianos!). Some time ago we came across a book written in 1832 by Sir Oswald Mosley (not that one!). It was a densely written history of a village called Tutbury which is located in Staffordshire. Sir Oswald Mosley was a member of the aristocracy (2nd Baronet of Ancoats, no less) and an MP this book was clearly a personal labour of love. It features far more information than any casual observer could want about Tutbury (although, I am now in a position to inform you that in 1313 a fat ox would cost between 16s and 14s) and includes at the beginning a list of subscribers who were presumably heavily persuaded to fund this little passion (or were very loyal residents of Tutbury itself). The book is in lovely condition for its age and features several black and white illustrations of places of interest in Tutbury. It is a charming little footnote in British aristocratic and political history.
I was reminded of this recently when we were given a book about the history of Du Cane court (one of our local landmarks). Despite having been written 175 years apart these books are very similar. They are both examples of one person’s unswerving dedication to a narrow subject. Du Cane court is a nice place if you’re fond of Art Deco architecture but I’m not sure that many people will be interested in the official complaints procedure of the tenants’ association. However, the zeal with which the author tackles his subject (and the oddly personal writing style) makes this book quite charming and one which has been passed around most of our volunteer team before finding its way on to our shelves!
(Incidentally, I am reliably informed that this book is available for purchase from the Du Cane court shop just in case you missed out on our copy!)