Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Smallest book on my shelf: Warren's Pocket History of Winchester

Looking for some light summer reading?

How about a book that's just two inches wide and two-and-a-half inches tall and is bound with a single (now rusted) staple. Can't get any lighter than that.

It's "Warren's Pocket History of Winchester." The book was published by Warren & Son, Ltd., and is a super-abridged edition of one of the Warren's Illustrated Guides.1

The original price was 3d (threepence). There's no publication date, but the "latest" date mentioned in the text is 1919. So the 1920s is certainly a reasonable guess for when this was issued.

For a tiny book, there is oodles of information packed into its 44 pages. First up is the history of Winchester Cathedral -- which dates to 1079. After a rundown of the building's dimensions, there is a four-page timeline that runs from 827 to 1912. Here's an excerpt:
From there, the book has brief information on the history of Winchester College, St. Cross Hospital, Winchester Castle, Hyde Abbey, The City Cross, and the oldest house in Winchester:
This interesting specimen of a mediæval town house dates from about the year 1450. Little is known of its history. It has been carefully restored in recent years, and is now one of the most interesting houses in the City."
After that, there's a timeline on Winchester city history and then the little book's largest section -- 20 pages on the city's artifacts and treasures (known as "The Corporation Plate"). It includes a good amount of details on the seals, rings, cups, spoons, maces, vases, medals and more that are part of the inventory.

As I said, it's a little book, but it's packed with info!

1. The full Winchester guide from Warren & Son cost 1s. 6d. The abridged edition cost 6d.
2. Note sure about this. The information on Egbert (pictured at right) doesn't really jibe with the history of the monarchy on Wikipedia.
3. That's probably off by a year. He died in 1042.
4. He's also known as William the Bastard.
5. "Rufus" would be William II of England (1056-1100), who reigned from 1087-1100 and "is commonly known as William Rufus, perhaps because of his red-faced appearance."

No comments:

Post a Comment