Book of Hay, The


Kate Clarke


The aim of this book is to provide the visitor to Hay with a feel for the town and surrounding area. It gives a broad outline of the currents of history that have swirled around the settlement and through its streets, and of those who played a role in that history: the de Breos family, King John, the de Bohun earls of Hereford, King Henry III, Simon de Montfort, the Llywelyns, and many men and women of the Marches, that swathe of country that once straddled the current border.

As times grew more settled, so traders and merchants grew in importance, as did the struggles to use the Wye as a trade route. Agricultural markets grew, associated businesses came and went, the whole percolated by the religious changes that swept to and fro. Hay even became the site of a stoning of a nonconformist preacher, William Seward, who died as a result of his injuries.

With the coming of the railways, cheaper competition from further afield caused many businesses to falter. Extracts form the diary of Francis Kilvert, written whilst he was a curate at nearby Clyro, add to the atmosphere of Victorian Hay, and the account of the famous trial of Major Armstrong for murder sheds light on the town in the 1920s. Also featured are some of the people who have in recent years played a role in creating the current town, notably Richard Booth, self-styled King of Hay. For Richard began a ‘new’ trade of secondhand books which has spawned associated literary and other festivals which, combined, have brought new vigour to the town.

This book is a completely revised and updated edition of that first published in 2000, which has benefited from the contributions of Clare Purcell and Mari Fforde, each intimately involved with the life of Hay.

Kate Clarke, crime writer and diarist, is an ex-London schoolteacher now living in Hay-on-Wye. Her books include Murder at the Priory: The Mysterious Poisoning of Charles Bravo (with Bernard Taylor), short-listed for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger award; The Pimlico Murder; Who Killed Simon Dale?; Deadly Service; Bad Companions; Lethal Alliance and Fatal Affairs. She is currently collaborating on an A-Z of Victorian Crime. All volumes of her Journal (as Kate Paul) are held in the Mass Observation Archive, Special Collections, at Sussex University Library.

Paperback | 120 pages | 210 x 148 mm | 2015
26 colour and 35 b&w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-906663-90-2


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