28 July 2017: 3½ volumes completed; and the unknown architect

Three and a half of the four volumes of commentary entitled Mary Hardy and her World 1773–1809 are now complete. Only a few hundred pages remain to be set and illustrated before publication.

In the four years since The Diary of Mary Hardy was published Margaret Bird has set and illustrated 2300 pages of commentary. Indexing all four volumes will be the final task.

Margaret Bird at the Festival Fringe

Margaret Bird points to the signature ‘W. Mindham’ on the drawing for Letheringsett Bridge 1818 [photograph Caroline Holland 2017]

The talk for the Holt Festival Fringe 2017

As editor of the Diary volumes, and while still in the process of writing Mary Hardy and her World, Margaret continues to give talks and presentations on aspects of late-18th-century life associated with the diarist. The latest formed part of the Holt Festival Fringe and featured the architect William Mindham of Holt and Letheringsett.

Almost nothing has been published on Mindham until now, and an internet search will reveal very little about him other than the pre-publicity for the Festival talk.

On 23 July 2017 we had a most convivial evening in the garden marquee of the King’s Head, Letheringsett, just outside Holt. Mindham designed this public house in 1808 when the outlet had to be moved from its former position right against the main King’s Lynn–Cromer road. The talk was accompanied by an illustrated handout showing many of Mindham’s buildings.

Four descendants of the diarist Mary Hardy were present, including Caroline Holland—granddaughter of the historian Basil Cozens-Hardy (1885–1976).

A stimulating discussion

The presentation was rounded off with nearly half an hour of really penetrating questions. In this discussion period some new information emerged on the strength of Mindham’s highly individual, quirkily classical style: Steve Benson, Chairman of the Holt Society, believed that Woodlands, an early-19th-century house on the Cromer road at Holt, might well be one of the architect’s creations.

A wonderful hot supper then followed, with masses of dishes and with complimentary drinks. Everyone mixed and chatted easily, old friendships being renewed and new ones made. The King’s Head had done us proud, and ensured it all ran smoothly.

Duke's Head, King's Lynn

Henry Bell, a gentleman architect, created the magnificent Duke’s Head in the 1680s; he also designed the Customs House at King’s Lynn

Architect-designed public houses

Margaret posed a question. How many inns and pubs can we think of in the region which are architect designed and which pre-date the mid-19th century?

She could think of only two: the Duke’s Head in the Tuesday Market Place in King’s Lynn (by Henry Bell for the merchant Sir John Turner in the 1680s), and the King’s Head, Letheringsett (by William Mindham for the brewer William Hardy junior in 1808).

Are there others?

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Margaret Bird

Margaret Bird in 2016

The editor and author of the Mary Hardy volumes

You can read about the historian Margaret Bird on the link above

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