From a schoolmaster who succumbed to drink to a servant maid cast out – life in 18th-century Bamburgh makes for an interesting read.
Bamburgh Ghosts – Voices from the 18th century, by local historian Carol Griffiths, is based on the correspondence addressed to Dr Sharp, the most outstanding of the trustees of the Lord Crewe’s Charity.
They tell a host of human, often heartbreaking, stories from the lives of people living in the north Northumberland village at that time.
Most of these stories are now revealed for the first time in this book after lying dormant and unknown among more than 12,000 documents deposited by the charity at the Northumberland Archives, Woodhorn.
A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled them to be summarised for digital input in 2011 by volunteers and Carol, from Seahouses, was one of them.
Already a volunteer guide at Bamburgh Castle, she jumped at the chance to investigate such items as the Bamburgh Court Books and correspondence from George Hall, Constable of the Castle, to Dr Sharp, and went on to transcribe many of the letters.
Some of the references to people in Bamburgh were tantalising in their brevity and paucity of background information, but Carol pursued them through church registers, the census and various other documents.
The threat of piracy on the coast, constant storms leading to many shipwrecks, drowned bodies washed up on the shore, the threat of starvation due to high corn prices – this was everyday life in 18th-century Bamburgh.
The book will be launched at St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh, on Saturday, April 5, at 5.30pm when Carol will introduce the book and narrate some of its intriguing stories.
Everyone is welcome to this event where copies will be on sale. All proceeds will go to St Aidan’s Church, thanks to the generosity of the Lord Crewe Trustees, who have allowed use of their material.
Copies will also be available from shops in Bamburgh.