Clevedon 1864

The New Handbook of Clevedon and The Neighbourhood. May 1864

The New Handbook of Clevedon – published 156 years ago this month – in May 1864 gives an insight into a seaside town which was pushing to having a pier erected for health, wealth and social welfare purposes. A selection of pages taken from The New Handbook are shared in this posting.

A List of Some of the Flowering Plants, Ferns, Birds and Moths in Clevedon and the Vicinity

This Appendix at the back of the 1864 New Handbook of Clevedon gives substantial lists of the flower and fauna which lived in and around Clevedon as well as what can be found in the sea. The lists of flowers, birds and moths were compiled by the Rev. George W Braikenridge who was, in 1839, appointed minister of the newly consecrated church, Christ Church. The page on Marine Zoology was written by Mr Frederick R Martin. If anyone would like digital images of these pages do please get in touch:

Next are the pages listing THE BIRDS OF CLEVEDON

Butterflies and Moths

And finally, Mr. Frederick Martin’s treatise on the Marine Zoology of Clevedon. Lots of wonderful sea creatures to keep an eye out for.

Tomorrow: Some advertisements 1864 Style

A Day’s Sport Outside the Sea-Wall

This entire chapter is based upon an anonymous letter from M- A- to Mr Dear C. It relates the tales of M-A-‘s cold day out January 1864 walking from Clevedon to Clevedon Pill to Wick Pill to Wick St Lawrence and what he saw, who he bumped into and the chats he had. It is a day out for a sport which some may find disagreeable. Here’s a clue, “I donned my roughest togs – a ‘Crimean vest’ of thickest knitting, ancient unmentionables and …. a pair of waterproof knee boots. Thus clad, and with snipe shot in one pouch, plenty of BB in a second, and a good supply of Ely’s green cartridges, I sallied out.” The reader who dips into the pages below will, in addition to the sporting references, find wonderful and interesting details of Clevedon 156 years ago.

The Stranger’s Entree

Outline of the Town

In 6 short pages, the New Handbook of Clevedon gives the stranger an ‘entrée’ to the town. The author feels that arriving by train in the old town is somewhat disappointing because the sea and more striking features of the town, for example Highdale Hill ‘whose occupants, like the Romans of old, prefer a dry soil and a pleasant prospect‘ are not immediately to view. The train station was firmly in the middle of Clevedon town by the Clock Tower as shown in the photo below provided by Jane Lilly.

Photo of Clevedon Station provided by Jane Lilly.

However, the author does accede that: ‘There is something simple and primitive, notwithstanding, about the old village which entitles it to the sort of respectful homage we pay to old people. Quite right! The images of the pages below provide a guided tour in word around Clevedon in 1864 – one which can, just about, be recognised and followed, 156 years later.

Tomorrow: A Day’s Sport

Notes. – Historical, Personal, &c (sic)

There are several pages of historical and personal notes in The New Handbook. The first four (below) go from Geological eras to the great flood of 1703 when so many lives and cattle were lost along the Severn Estuary.

It is particularly charming to see how the author links Clevedon to the descendants of Noah – after the great flood – via Armenia, the Euphrates, Brittany, Normandy, and the Romans, Phoenicians and Carthaginians who ‘introduced amongst the wild inhabitants imperfect elements of a higher civilisation. Hopefully Clevedon has now caught up in the civilisation stakes. The New Handbook notes how the manor of Clivedone is recorded in the Domesday Book (image below) and dedicates the last 5 pages of this chapter discussing the Elton family who bought Clevedon Court in 1709 – now a National Trust property open to the public.

Tomorrow. Chapter 3: The Stranger’s Entrée, An Outline of the Town.

The Climate

In these three pages the New Handbook trumpets the wonderfully healthy and health-giving climate of Clevedon for ‘pulmonary invalids and scrofula, rheumatism and convalescents from fevers’ as well as for those who, ‘without being really ill’ would benefit from imbibing ‘health and strength’ in order that ‘flesh and good looks’ are restored.

There is no chance for all of those nasty, noxious effluvia that cause illness ‘accumulating’ because, the New Handbook says, ‘The fresh breezes wafted across the broad bosom of the Atlantic, that sweep over the place continually, would effectually dissipate them.’

And if the visitor is someone who likes to be guided by the science there’s even a bit of science. ‘The presence of a large proportion of ozone in the air bears important chemical testimony to its purity.’

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