the fire service (fire hooks, insurance marks, hydrant covers,
fire station). Other utilities such as postal service, telegraph
and telephone are covered in the section on ‘Communications
This is an excellent book and it is to be hoped
that it will have a wide sale within the Tonbridge area and to
those who plan to visit the town. It also provides a model for
the kind of publication that could be undertaken by other local
history societies looking for a project that could involve many
hands. Other possibilities are gazetteers of field and
place-names, and local biographical dictionaries – for which
future generations of historians will give thanks.
A Market Town and its Surrounding Villages: Cranbrook, Kent
in the Later Seventeenth Century. By Anthony Poole.
Phillimore 2005. xx + 220 pp. 29 b/w illustrations + 41 maps and
figures. Hardback £30. ISBN 1 860773451.
Written with encouragement from, and in response to, Margaret
Spufford’s 1974 plea ‘for studies [of] "social
areas" based on a contiguous group of parishes, ideally
focused on a market town’, Anthony Poole has succeeded in
writing a truly successfully local history. This is history
based very much on the people of the area, that is the various
communities living in the Cranbrook area in the later
seventeenth century: Cranbrook, Benenden, Biddenden, Frittenden,
Goudhurst, Hawkurst and Staplehurst. Poole centres the core of
the book around the family within the community, but the first
two chapters are exemplars in the planning and contextualising
of a local study. The clarity of his first chapter on the
sources sets the scene for the nature of the primary evidence
for the Cranbrook region, but also includes much commentary
which would be useful if applied to other areas.
In his second chapter on the Cranbrook region,
Poole gives a good context for the setting of his study in the
seventeenth century, ensuring that the reader understands the
geology and topography, and giving the background to the
contemporary socio-economic environment. By careful reference to
other studies he is able to draw comparisons and give an
understanding of national trends; for example by analysing the
Cambridge and Cranbrook hearth tax returns there is a good sense
of the relative wealth of the area. Particularly helpful in this
chapter are the maps and the supporting evaluation of them
explaining the nature and size of property and landownerships.
Throughout the book the tables, graphs and maps are finely
reproduced, clear and easy to interpret, a rare treat.
The core quasi-sociological studies in chapters 3,
4 and 5 rely heavily