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The Frome Yearbook: Volume 25

THE latest edition of the Frome Yearbook is now in the shops, containing its usual array of fascinating stories about the town and its environs.  

The Frome Yearbook – Volume 25.

Amongst this year’s treats is an in-depth article about the life of William Wheatley, a local artist who was active from the 1820s until his death in 1885. Wheatley lived for some time in Rode and painted many local scenes in Frome and surrounding areas. His watercolour of the clipping of Rode Church in 1848 is probably is his most famous, along with his sketches of Cheap Street and Lullington. One of his paintings, depicting King Street in the 1840s, is reproduced alongside a photograph of the street today, comparing then with now. 

There is news of work towards the publication of the Jeremiah Cruse map of 1813, soon to be reproduced in full by the Frome Society, depicting all the properties and streets in the town as well as plots of land in the surrounding countryside. 

Beckington’s many ghosts are exposed, as are the many fanciful stories told by rotund conman, Arthur Orton, whose attempt to claim a fortune from a rich widow in mid-Victorian England scandalised the courts and society for many months. Hear his story as told at the Market Hall in 1885. 

The story of the famous coaching inn, the Black Dog at Standerwick, is examined in detail for the first time; the location of the kidnapping of Thomas Swymmer Champneys, master of Orchardleigh, during his attempt to evade capture for his immense debts and later the childhood home of one of the first women barristers, Nemone Lethbridge, and a favourite of the Kray twins.  

In 1839 the Candy family thought they had found a way to make some easy money and engaged in large scale mortgage fraud with master forger, James Sealy. After initial success, greed got the better of them, their stories became more outlandish and ended in two deaths on the way to Australia. 

Frome’s historic buildings are well catered for with Dr John Harvey unpicking the story of his house on Portway Steps and the slave owners behind the construction of one of the town’s Georgian mansions. The lower orders aren’t forgotten, with a contemporary account of the ‘Mass Labour Demonstration of 1917’, and an examination of the origins of ‘Beggars Bush.’ 

There are further articles on geology, fossils, Frome’s early MPs, Frome’s welcoming of Belgian refugees in 1914 and the story of William Brett Harvey, prolific do-gooder.  

This engrossing compendium of 126 pages is available from Frome Museum 01370 454 611 or Winstone’s Hunting Raven bookshop in Cheap Street at £10.

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